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Purple Cane Road Mass Market Paperback – 7 Jun 2001

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New Ed edition (7 Jun. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752843346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752843346
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Lee Burke is the author of many previous novels, many featuring Detective Dave Robicheaux. He won the Edgar Award in 1998 for Cimarron Rose, while Black Cherry Blues won the Edgar in 1990 and Sunset Limited was awarded the CWA Gold Dagger in 1998. He lives with his wife, Pearl, in Missoula, Montana and New Iberia, Louisiana.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Purple Cane Road is proof positive that James Lee Burke is considerably more than a dispenser of tough and atmospheric detective yarns. His central character, Dave Robicheaux, is more than just a powerful addition to a prestigious series. We are dealing here with a stylist of the first order: a writer who has managed to seamlessly marry the hard-boiled idiom of Chandler with the atmosphere and literary elegance of William Faulkner.

Robicheaux is here plunged into his most painful and personal odyssey yet. He learns that his mother, Mae, was a prostitute who ended up drowned in a mud puddle by crooked cops in the pay of the Mob. As Dave and his partner Clete Purcell investigate, they encounter State Governor Belmont Pugh, a fundamentalist preacher; the terrifying Remeta, a super-intelligent hit man, and, most significantly, Jim Gable, owner of the mansion in Purple Cane Road, who knows more about Dave's wife then Dave himself.

As Robicheaux struggles through a morass of intrigue and double-dealing, he finds that coming to terms with his own troubled past becomes as important as identifying the his mother's killers. Burke's strategy is to subtly subvert the standard detective narrative, creating a seamy panoply of the darker side of American society. Alongside the customary imperatives of bloody violence and dangerous sexuality, Burke is able to address such issues as the growing chasm between black and white and the inequalities that have riven American society. He is a storyteller of prodigious ability and his use of language remains nonpareil:

I returned to New Orleans and my problems with pari-mutuel windows and a dark-haired, milk-skinned wife from Martinique who went home with men from the Garden District while I was passed out in a house boat on Lake Pontchartrain, the downdraft of US Army helicopters flattening a plain of elephant grass in my dreams.
--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


The best in the Detective Dave Robicheaux series. (THE INDEPENDENT) --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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YEARS AGO, IN STATE documents, Vachel Carmouche was always referred to as the electrician, never as the executioner. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Sept. 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been reading JLB for 5 years now. I started with The Neon Rain, have read all the Robicheaux books and almost everything else. Most of the books have grabbed me and transported me to Louisiana, Montana, Texas or wherever. The stories have grabbed me by the throat and don't let go until the final page. The sense of place that JLB conveys is such that I can almost smell the Gulf. However I have a major problem with Purple Cane Road which is that I cannot accept the basic premise that Dave Robicheaux, despite his lost years as a drunk, has never once heard a rumour that his mother was murdered. Or that Clete hasn't heard anything even if Dave hasn't, especially as so many other people in the novel seem to be informed of the story, whether or not they have the full story. To me it defies belief that more than 30 years can pass without the slightest hint reaching his ears. Also in the reminicences about his childhood there seems to be a big hole in the plot in that his half brother Jimmie never gets mentioned, even in passing. In The Neon Rain we are told Jimmie is 15 months Dave's junior "... we did everything together. We washed bottles..., plucked chickens..., set pins at the bowling alley..". They were apparently inseparable. Yet not a word in Purple Cain Road. I'm looking forward to the next Robicheaux novel and just hoping that this was a temporary glitch until normal service is resumed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 April 2009
Format: Hardcover
This agonized accusation reveals some of the previously unknown trauma in the life of Dave Robicheaux, detective with the New Iberia Police Department, outside New Orleans. Robicheaux is a Vietnam War veteran with the emotional scars to prove it, an alcoholic who has finally beaten his addiction, and a fierce believer in justice, even if achieving justice means taking shortcuts. Dave's mother was murdered when he was a young boy, after she ran off and fell upon hard times in New Orleans. Some people report that she lived as a prostitute, but Dave has only good memories. He believes that she was murdered by two cops in the pay of the Giacano crime family, an issue which brings his present life into the picture, since his wife Bootsie is the widow of Ralph Giacano.

In one of his most emotional and personally affecting novels, James Lee Burke traces Robicheaux's search for information about his mother, her killers, and the reasons for her death. He is also, however, dealing with several other issues, some of which begin to overlap with the past. He is sympathetic to the case of Letty Labiche, a young woman on death row for killing a man who subjected her to constant molestation from the age of twelve, and Robicheaux blames himself, to some degree, for suspecting the molestation and ignoring it. As the days tick down toward Letty's execution, Robicheaux is hoping to find something that exculpates her. That search leads him, ironically, to discover information about his mother.

As usual, Robicheaux is dealing with crooked politicians and law officers, problems which have not changed since his mother's death more than thirty years before, with some of the same people involved in both her death and in recent crimes.
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By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 21 July 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"I was tired of daily convincing myself that what I did for a living made a difference." ‒ Dave Robicheaux, in PURPLE CANE ROAD

Back in May, I read my first Dave Robicheaux novel by James Lee Burke, BLACK CHERRY BLUES. It was a pleasing discovery. Though I'll likely not read all in the series because life is short (and getting shorter) and I have too many other books on my shelf, I'll cherry-pick from among Dave's thrillers, but probably not in any particular order.

In this novel, while revisiting the circumstances of a particularly messy murder that will soon result in the execution of the convicted killer, the young woman Letty Labiche, Cajun Detective Robicheaux of the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Department stumbles across the revelation that his mother Mae, who'd deserted her husband and son when the latter was but a child, had been brutally killed by two corrupt and unidentified members of the New Orleans Police Department many years earlier under sordid circumstances. Understandably, Dave is compelled to track down the pair and exact revenge, legally or otherwise.

An endearing element of the storyline is that Robicheaux's adopted daughter is now a typically rebellious teenager. What parent can't relate to that?

Unlike Lee Child's literary hero, Jack Reacher, Burke's creation doesn't seem to possess exceptional lethality. At least Robicheaux hasn't demonstrated such in the two novels I've now completed. Indeed, in PURPLE CANE ROAD most of the mayhem and bloodletting is accomplished by others. What Dave does have is a flawed history and personality.
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Format: Hardcover
Webmaster & I always eagerly grab Author Burke's latest & hurry home to return to Dave Robicheaux's world of swamps & sunsets, boogie players & lowlifes, an ordinary man with an extraordinary sense of honor & compassion with a recovering wife he adores, a teenage daughter on the verge of rebellion & a home & fishing business his father built with his bare hands.
Dave Robicheaux is a Vietnam Veteran & a New Iberia Parish police detective who has only recently dragged himself out of the bottle. When he gets a call to check out an isolated house he finds his long time friend Clete Purcel throwing lowlifes off the roof into an ancient oak tree. While Dave attempts to sort out the fracas, Zipper Clum, a well-known pimp, squints at him & utters a horrifying statement that sends Dave into a swamp of pain & into the past of New Orleans law enforcement, a hive of corruption no one wants to disturb.
A James Lee Burke book is always a maze of stories where past & present melt into each other & where the Louisiana land is as much a player in the story as are the people. The bayous come alive with colors, sounds, scents & seasons.
Fascinating reading - as are all Burke's books.
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