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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I know you murdered my mother. I know the words she spoke just before you and your partner killed her."
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...
Published on 2 April 2009 by Mary Whipple

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars James Lee Burke's first major disappointment
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...
Published on 16 Sep 2001


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars James Lee Burke's first major disappointment, 16 Sep 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Purple Cane Road (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
4.0 out of 5 stars "I know you murdered my mother. I know the words she spoke just before you and your partner killed her.", 2 April 2009
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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. When Johnny Remeta, an attractive hit man, begins to ingratiate himself with Robicheaux's sixteen-year-old daughter Alafair, who is attracted to what she sees as his charm and sensitivity, Robicheaux goes ballistic, determined to protect Alafair and to determine who is paying Remeta.

Although there is a great deal of violence in this episode in Robicheaux's life, both by others and by Robicheaux himself, Robicheaux manages (barely) to hang on to his sobriety and to avoid criminal charges for his violence. As the various plot lines converge and lead to a blockbuster conclusion, many aspects of Robicheaux's life come together, and many long-time predators meet their ends. More emotionally satisfying than some other Robicheaux novels because the violence is less gratuitous, Purple Cane Road combines issues from Dave's past with issues from his present, and suggests issues with which Robicheaux will have to deal for the rest of his life. A fine mystery executed with Burke's customary panache. n Mary Whipple

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4.0 out of 5 stars Purple Cane Road weaves a passionate tale., 22 April 2001
By 
Rebecca Brown "rebeccasreads" (Clallam Bay, WA United States) - See all my reviews
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cajun Classic, 15 Aug 2001
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Mr. S. J. Wade "thebardofb6" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Purple Cane Road (Mass Market Paperback)
Read enough off the crime shelves and things get predictable. The authors you return to are those that add the atmosphere, the characters and the style. Burke has an interesting detective with baggage and an amusing side-kick. He has the usual omnipotent threat and a decent plot but the overwhelming joy, is the Southern flavour, with dialogue that has voices warbling poetically, in the head. Fabulous entertainment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 2 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Purple Cane Road (Mass Market Paperback)
Just brilliant - James Lee Burke has to be one of the best writers on the planet. A thoroughly good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mean, moody and magnificent, 19 Nov 2013
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If you want to spend a little time in another place, another world, few writers can take you there like James Lee Burke. But probably his greatest asset is his lyrical, poetic language. This book, set in southern Louisiana simply drips with atmosphere. It's dark, moody and complicated, like all JLB's books. The story that drives the narrative is perhaps good, rather than great. But what sets him apart from other crime writers is the humanity in his deeply flawed characters. There are no happy endings. Nothing ever works out just fine. The good guys sometimes seem not much better than the bad guys. But the fact that they keep trying seems somehow more uplifting than any number of more straightforward thrillers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Purple Cane Road, 1 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Purple Cane Road (Mass Market Paperback)
We have read hints about Dave Robicheaux's past in peevious books but now he gets at the truth. Full of the author's colourful characters and the detective's wondreful relationship with his daughter Alafair. His addictive past always threatening to undo him.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Crime down in Dixie, 26 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Purple Cane Road (Mass Market Paperback)
James Lee Burke writes the southern characters in Purple Can Road a way that makes you know he has lived in their skins. The result are characters that ring true and make you feel you are a fly on the wall watching the story unfold. Purple Can Road was a really enjoyable read. Teddy Hayes "author Devil Barnett novels"
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5.0 out of 5 stars JLB in fine form, 7 Aug 2013
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C. Upfield "Brihdein" (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Purple Cane Road (Mass Market Paperback)
I caught up with this novel late, having read several Dave Robicheaux before hand. This one strikes me as one of JLB's best and such a powerful message against state execution.
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5.0 out of 5 stars For Mom, 21 July 2013
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Amazon Customer (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Purple Cane Road (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. At this late date in my reading career, I've decided that a flawed hero is much more interesting than one who is not. (Another striking example that comes to mind is Jonah Said in Simon Conway's A Loyal Spy.) Such characterization perhaps elevates what is otherwise trashy pulp fiction a notch or two.

The plot of PURPLE CANE ROAD evolves languidly with multiple characters, much like a warm and humid day spent lazily fishing out on the bayou. However, what the author does demonstrate in this novel (as well as BLACK CHERRY BLUES and presumably the other installments of Robicheaux) is a talent for painting a vivid word picture when describing the ambience of a particular scene, such as:

"A sun shower peppered the lake, then the wind dropped and the air became still and birds rose out of the cypress and willows and gum trees against a blood-red sky. The alligators sleeping on the banks were slick with mud and looked like they were sculpted out of black and green stone."

And...

"The wind was blowing hard and the sky had turned black and I could feel the barometer dropping ... I waited in my truck until almost noon under a sky sealed with clouds that looked like black ink floating inside an inverted bowl ... The temperature must have dropped fifteen degrees and through the window I could smell speckled trout schooling up in the bay and the cool, wet odor of dust blowing out of the cane, and when I shut my eyes I was a little boy again, deriving down Purple Cane Road with my mother ..."

My only complaint is that there isn`t as many of these deliciously descriptive passages as I, a lover of stringing words together, would like. However, I'll gladly take what I can get and keep reading Robicheaux until the plots take on a certain sameness.
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Purple Cane Road
Purple Cane Road by James Lee Burke (Mass Market Paperback - 7 Jun 2001)
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