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Swan Peak Paperback – 25 Jun 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (25 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075382602X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753826027
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 44,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

With its trademark mix of brutality and poetry, Swan Peak is a brilliant piece of work from an American master. (Peter Guttridge THE OBSERVER)

How does Burke do it? Following swiftly on from his brilliant The Tin Roof Blowdown, we find Dave Robicheaux and his ex-homicide partner Clete Purcel escaping hurricane-devastated New Orleans for the wild calm of Montana, only to find a twisted serial killer at work, and worse. 4 Stars (Henry Sutton THE MIRROR)

Hurricane Katrina is over, but the clean-up goes on: inthe latest instalment of Burke's crime series, Dave Robicheaux flees New Orleans only to be sucked into a perfect storm of murder, convicts and oil money. The frenetic plotting contrasts with moody descriptions of the Montana wilderness. (ESQUIRE)

His lyrical prose, his deep understanding of what makes people behave as they do, and his control of plot and pace are masterly. (Susanna Yager SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

The last 30 pages had me gripped with tension. This, together with Burke's ability to place you vicariously in the haunting landscapes he describes with such love and passion, again confirms his position as one of the finest American writers. (Matthew Lewin THE GUARDIAN)

As a master of crime fiction, Burke needs no introduction ... With its relentlessley captivating narrative, Swan Peak immerses us in this corner of Montana, alive with colourful, dangerous characters. The sense of impending doom builds until the climatic ending. A thriller so good you will regret finishing it. (WATERSTONE'S BOOKS QUARTERLY)

Superious crime fiction (Michael Parkinson EVENING STANDARD ES MAGAZINE)

James Lee Burke... never fails to please. He offers a sweeping, repertorial perspective of how modern America works, while weaving a tightly plotted thriller around a fabulous array of characters. (Carla McKay DAILY MAIL) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The latest mesmerising Dave Robicheaux novel from one of American crime fiction's greats.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James Lee Burke's latest novel, Swan Peak, is another chapter in the life of his troubled character Dave Robicheaux. It is set in the wilds of Montana rather than the lush lands of Louisiana. An early novel, Black Cherry Blues was similarly set against the Montana backdrop of mountains and grazing land.
This time Dave and his friend Cletus Purcell are ostensibly taking a well earned break from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. At one point Dave reflects, in a beautifully constructed paragraph, of how the intersections in his life seem practically predetermined as is the attraction of iron filings for a magnet. There is a sense of evil in the first few pages as Clete is bullied by some unpleasant characters who move him off the territory of a rich landowner. It is surely a craft of very few authors to write so infectiously and to create such a sense of bad things to come as does James Lee Burke.
The story is set around the rich landowner and some gruesome killings in the same area. It has, rather like an airliner, a smooth and progressive glide slope to a climax rather than a landing. As a reader one is drawn and even captivated by each turn of the screw.
Woven into this story are some old and some new characters along with just a hint of romance. One or two descriptions of the Montana environment are reminiscent of early Lee Burke writing about Louisiana and I have to say I wish there were more of these.
Quite where Lee Burke gets his material from is a mystery but how he creates such an art from whatever the source is very impressive. It is, yet again, a great read and I'm glad to say the author still retains those qualities of writing that attracted me to the Robicheaux novels all those years ago.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the first Dave Robicheaux novel since `Black Cherry Blues' to take the deputy sheriff out of his home state of Louisiana (laid to waste after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita) and into the mid-west farmlands of Montana. Not coincidentally, these are also the two states that James Lee Burke calls his home. Here Robicheaux is enjoying a trip with his wife Molly and big buddy Cletus Purcell, where they're ranch house guests of Robicheux's friend Albert Hollister - a retired English professor and writer.

Virtually from page one - which depicts Purcell doing a spot of solo fishing - there's trouble. Two employees of Ridley Wellstone, an extremely rich Texan oil man who has relocated to Montana, inform Purcell he's on private land, insult him, break his fishing rod (a VERY bad idea) and chase him.

From there the action kicks off as Robicheaux and Purcell become entangled in events at Wellstone's mansion - which he shares with his badly burnt brother Lesley and Lesley's wife Jamie Sue - and the search for a serial killer.

In a parallel plot, 6ft 5in prison guard Troyce Nix violently sodomises country singer Jimmy Dale Greenwood, a prisoner in his care, and pushes this gentle guy into attacking him with a homemade shiv. Nix is badly injured but recovers after a short spell in hospital. He then pursues his attacker, accompanied by a lady friend he picks-up along the way. His pursuit of Greenwood becomes inextricably linked with the Robicheaux/Wellstone story, and there's a crossover of characters into both plotlines that Burke controls brilliantly.

`Swan Peak' is the seventeenth novel in the series and displays all the strengths and weaknesses of the best of the books.

The strengths?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This novel finds Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel, the two detective anti-heroes of James Lee Burke’s imagination, in Montana, trying to find some peace of mind and quiet respite from the submerged streets of New Orleans that they normally inhabit. Peace and quiet? If these novels were set in Harrogate, then Betty’s Tea Rooms would be full of hookers, pimps, drug crazed biker gangs, ex-Mafia contract killers, crooked FBI agents and a paedophile priest who had a pet Doberman trained to attack your gonads. And Dave and Clete would serve their measures of justice to them all, sadly lamenting the demise of society and lack of divine retribution as they ram a cream scone down an ex-cons throat while gouging out his eyes. This act would then throw Dave into acres of regret and depression and would inevitably lead him to killing about ten scumbags in consequence. Clete would again drink himself senseless, address Dave as Noble Mon and drive his Cadillac into the legs of a corrupt sheriff. Seriously, these two could turn up at a nursery and find it populated with Mexican drug dealing death squads. I have loved most of James Lee Burke's novels in this series, but I tired of the formula here. There's only so many eccentric psychopathic hoodlums two men can meet, surely, and these two have met them all as far as I'm concerned. Time to find something new and Swan Peak, I fear, has become Swan Song for me and James Lee.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have started reading James Lee Burke again and I am so happy I made that decision. This series is superb. The writing is lyrical and up there with the likes of Le Carr e and Elmore Leonard. Far more descriptive and evocative though. Burke can really wax lyrical so much so that the the pure rhythm of the writing carries you through some quite disturbing passages. The storyline is always intriguing and the characters superb.
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