In the Electric Mist with the Confederate Dead James Lee Burke Hyperion Publishers Copyright 1993
Of all Burke's novel featuring Dave Robicheaux, this is my favorite - a perfect balance of dialogue, action and luscious description. Written in the first person of the flawed hero, Burke limits the perspective and forces us into a raw intimacy with the main character at times uncomfortable but always compelling. The dialogue is written in dialect when necessary - and Burke gets away with it. He has the gift that reflects the sensuous character of the southern Louisiana setting and never seems trite or overdone-just natural.
I developed a sinere affection for Robicheaux as he fought his own demons and remained true to his values in the face of powerful exterior and interior forces. His voice aches with with the sadness of resignation, yet his melancholic descriptions and thoughts never totally surrender to those demons. Each time I thought I had had just about enough of his wallowing, he picked himself up by his boostraps and smashed his fist into somebody's sleazy jaw- always well deserved.
From the bayou to the city, the complex plot lines weaves a sultry thread throughout the book looping around the many characters of both locales, then pulling the knot ever so slowly.
An intriguing concept that glimmers within the plot are communications with a dead Confederate soldier that blur the line between myth and reality. Questions asked but unanswered. Are they buried memories or messages from beyond the pale?
Burke intertwines so many elements in this novel -a poetic eye, profound insights, raw violence, gripping action and of course, the ability of his 20th century Lancelot to eke out a victory in spite of his human frailities.
A great read.