Top positive review
44 of 45 people found this helpful
BIG novel with ambitions to be epic - 4-
on 2 August 2012
I was pulled into this intense, elegiac and sometime melancholic salute to Dave Robicheaux and buddy Clete Purcell and their Louisiana from the first few pages--but was also overwhelmed and fatigued by it at the closing. Author James Lee Burke has poured heart and soul into this story of greed, exploitation and basic human savagery in such an unrestrained fashion that the effect is like being on a roller coaster that runs on a permanent loop--exhilarating but maybe too much of a good thing.
The storyline is convoluted and secondary to the examination of the lives of Robicheaux and Purcell. It gradually builds to expose garden variety larceny, thuggery, art theft and forgery, white slavery and Nazi war crimes. The intervals between action segments look at the trials and tribulations of the two principals and the dynamics of their relationship over the years. Most interesting to me was the author's observations about the story's context--the state of his state and his obvious frustration with the direction that it has been going in. One telling para:
"For me Louisiana has always been a haunted place. I believe the specters of slaves and Houma and Atakapa Indians and pirates and Confederate soldiers and Acadian farmers and plantation belles are still out there in the mist. I believe their story has never been adequately told and they will never rest until it is. I also believe my home state is cursed by ignorance and poverty and racism, much of it deliberately inculcated to control a vulnerable electorate. And I believe many of the politicians in Louisiana are among the most stomach-churning examples of white trash and venality I have ever known". *
Ultimately, this is an entertaining novel by a masterful writer. It is probably overwritten and overlong by 150 pages, but there is enough brilliance and passion here to make up for the occasional repetition and overstatement.
*I was reading this in a week when the current, popular governor of Louisiana, campaigning for the presumptive Republican candidate for president, was condemning the Affordable Healthcare Act--this from a man who presides over a state where a quarter of the population has no healthcare at all and is struggling with major problems in education, environment, transportation, etc.