James Lee Burke

The Glass Rainbow

"...as good as anything Burke has ever written and you are quite simply swept up and away in the race to the finish."


When Dave Robicheaux gets the call saying his ex-partner, Clete Purcel, is in jail for felony assault and resisting arrest, bailing him out is instinctive. After all, Clete is the man who saved Dave's life by carrying him down a fire escape with two bullets in his back. But Clete's latest escapade isn't just worrying because it shows his demons are gaining the upper hand; it also brings some of those demons into Dave's life, in the most personal way possible.

The man Clete assaulted, a big-time pimp and meth dealer called Herman Stanga, is a suspect in the murder of a series of young women - but his criminal activities are hidden behind his involvement in the St Jude Project, a charity aimed at getting young women off the streets. As Dave probes the charity further, he finds that its main sponsor is a man called Kermit Abelard, the smooth-talking scion of a wealthy family, and a man whose motives Dave instinctively mistrusts. He also happens to be Dave's daughter Alafair's boyfriend...

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It's fair to say that they don't come much better than James Lee Burke. For me a new novel from this wonderful writer is an event worth ticking off in anticipation on my calendar. If he is new to you then boy are you in for a treat; if you are already a fan you'll be more than satisfied by this latest offering. The usual elements are here for your delectation: the sumptuous descriptions of the Louisiana bayous, the strength of the friendship between Clete Purcel and Robicheaux, some of the sickest bad guys you'll ever meet and a plot that bewitches from the very first page. In the first half of the book the pace is measured as the author becomes elegiac about the ecological backdrop, regularly comparing it to the Garden of Eden and demonstrating how man is poisoning it. The last half of the novel becomes more involved with the killer and catching him before he hurts any more young women. Here the actions scenes are as good as anything Burke has ever written and you are quite simply swept up and away in the race to the finish. What you have here is quite possibly is the darkest Robicheaux novel yet. Not only does his family come under immediate threat, as they have done in the past, but Dave Robicheaux is ageing and feeling it. At several points in the novel he sees a 19th century steam paddle-wheeler emerge from the mists on the Bayou Teche, complete with crew and passengers who signal to him to come on board. This becomes symbolic of Dave's mortality and a clever device that has the reader worried this might be the last we ever see of this fantastic character. Does Alafair become a victim of a serial killer? Does Dave survive despite his overwhelming feeling that he is about to get lost forever in the mists? You'll just have to read The Glass Rainbow to find out.

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