Guilty Pleasures: James Lee Burke

Creole Belle CoverI generally do not like violent mystery stories where psychopaths practice their evil and tormented detectives struggle to bring them down. But, I got hooked on James Lee Burke in my commuting days when Will Patton‘s gentle southern voice made the violence less stark and the introspection more riveting. Burke’s thick prose rolled from his tongue like molasses from a spoon, and there were moments at the end of a paragraph when I just had to hit pause and even rewind.

I don’t listen to audio books much anymore, and I managed to miss two additions to the Dave Robicheaux series: The Glass Rainbow and Creole Belle. My public library had both of them and I managed to breeze through them in just a couple days. Just in time for the latest book–Light of the World–that will be coming out in July.

Here’s just one example of his prose from Creole Belle:

The winter was not really winter at all, and therein may lie Key West’s greatest charm. If one does not have to brood upon the coming of winter and the shortening of the days and the fading of the light, then perhaps one does not have to brood upon the coming of death. When the season is gentle and untreatening and seems to renew itself daily, we come to believe that spring and the long days of summer may be eternal after all. When we see the light trapped high in the sky on a summer evening, is it possible we are looking through an aperture at our future rather than at a seasonal phenomenon? Is it possible that the big party is just beginning?

And I discovered that you can view all the Kindle highlights as well.*

Rich, luscious, sometimes over the top…but riveting and really just fun even in its violence and introspection.

And, I also noticed that it’s written in a mix of first and third person although we understand that Dave is telling us the story. But sometimes he is getting us caught up on what other characters were doing and tells that in the third person. It helps relieve some of the stream of consciousness that happens with all first person books. Sometimes, I just need a break from the thoughts of one character.

Here’s my biggest question: just how old is Dave Robicheaux? He made a comment in one of the books I just read that he was entering his 8th decade. Really? According to wiki answers, he is 72. Seems a bit improbable. And Clete Purcel, his buddy, is always on the edge of dying but somehow continues to survive.

Now that I’ve gotten caught up with Burke, I’m moving on to Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles series and Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs. I’ve checked them out from my local library who has an amazing interlibrary loan system. If they don’t have it, I get it within 24 hours. I’ve saved almost $50 in the past week! It’s meant a few trips to the library, but it’s only a few minutes away and I get to know more people each time I make the trip.

*One downside of library books: I had dog-eared a few pages with juicy quotes to share (I know, I know, I’m a criminal) but I would have had to type the quotes from the book and I wanted to get to the library before the worst of the storm hit. Maybe there’s an app for that.


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2 Responses to Guilty Pleasures: James Lee Burke

  1. Bill says:

    I happened on here when I was looking around for comments and thoughts about the ages of Dave and Clete. If Dave was born in 1938 then he woud be about 75. And Clete would be about the same age, I guess. It’s a bit of a stretch to think that all these women just jump into bed with Clete. Wasn’t Varina supposed to be this drop dead beautiful woman in her 20′s? And Clete is sitting there stuffing his face with oyster po’ boys and drinking brandy and egg-nog and spitting up blood and 75 years old with huge love handles and a pork pie hat and he has to beat women off with a stick? Hmm.

  2. witchyrichy says:

    I’ve thought that same thing about Clete…must be something in the way he looks or the sense of sadness about him? It does require a certain suspension of disbelief.

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