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on 22 July 2010
James Lee Burke has crafted possibly the best Dave Robicheaux novel in terms of both its literary quality and the storyline. Recent novels have mirrored contemporary reality focussing on the effects of hurricane Katrina for example. In this latest work Lee Burke provides the ecological backdrop, the many canals dug into the Bayou, to what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico. Robicheaux is ageing and is particularly reflective on death in this novel which begins with the discovery of human remains in Mississipi. Indeed rather like the caduceus death winds itself around the characters and the region like the snake in the symbol.
The investigation into the origins of the human remains leads Robicheaux and his faithful sidelick, Cletus Purcell, into a very sinister group of people whose motives are initially unclear. Using the lead characters daughter, Alifair, in the plot could have been a mistake, however, Lee Burke succeeds and Alifair is quite a credible component of the scene. Some of the prose Lee Burke writes are often stunning and moving and contribute to the overall quality of the work.
Between Robicheaux and Purcell there is a wonderful bond of loyalty and friendship that has lasted throughout the series of novels, both characters have their failings which each recognises and accepts. A little more of Helen Soileau, the Sheriff, comes to light in this novel. Her softness towards Robicheaux is touching and despite her orientation there is a sense of romance in the relationship.
Unlike other Robicheaux novels the bad guys are credible individuals, people that one might meet socially and it is this aspect that highlights the craft Lee Burke has used.
I found the book difficult to put down and I recommend it highly to initiates and newcomers, it is an excellent read.

Mike Alexander, Leeds.
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VINE VOICEon 12 May 2011
To echo other reviewer comments, this latest Dave Robicheaux novel from James Lee Burke is his best yet.

With the usual offering of strong characters, tight plot and a real sense of the Deep South, this is not just another crime thriller, but the cumulative result of a his great series of them.

The good news is this book also stands alone in its own right. Start here and work backwards if you wish.

You won't be disappointed.
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on 5 September 2014
Excellent. JLB tells a great story.
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on 5 January 2011
I have read all of Burke's novels, even hunting down his earlier westerns. The Robicheaux series however is my favorite. In many ways Dave Robicheaux has been representative of post WWII Louisiana Cajun culture. Themes of mysticism, despair, and elation that tempt the soul have been a thread through these novels. I won't ruin the story by giving away anything, but this is another great addition to the series. For more great viction I have to recommend "The Bridge at Valentine"
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"That they may successfully do evil with both hands--
The prince asks for gifts,
The judge seeks a bribe,
And the great man utters his evil desire;
So they scheme together. -- Micah 7:3 (NKJV)

This is the best new novel I've read so far in 2010.

The best of the Dave Robicheaux novels draw on deep roots into the antebellum South, long-standing class and racial divisions, mystical visions on the bayou, an unquenchable will for justice, Clete Purcel operating like a one-man demolition derby, and some of the slimiest villains ever conceived and described. Usually, I find one of the elements to seem under or over developed. Not this time. The Glass Rainbow is just right, and I strongly urge you to read and enjoy the book.

Dave is trying to find out who has been killing "throwaway" young women. At the same time, he's deeply disturbed that Alafair, his adopted daughter, is spending time with Kermit Abelard, who seems just right to Alafair . . . but all wrong to Dave. If that sounds like a plot that isn't very deep, you should remember that ninety percent of icebergs stay out of sight. Ultimately, the book succeeds as a dark and desperately pessimistic portrayal of the evil that men do. Unfortunately, it rings true. And that's the book's greatness.

One of the particular strengths of the book is the way that James Lee Burke lets you use your imagination to fill in the blanks that describe the ugliness that has been and is going on.

The action scenes are among the best that Mr. Burke has ever written. Two in particular will stay with you for a long time to come.

Bravo, Mr. Burke!
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on 5 January 2013
James Lee Burke has written Dave Robicheaux into crime fiction history and, as with any series, for the new reader, the latest story has to stack up, otherwise why go back and read the rest. Now The Glass Rainbow is not the latest as Creole Belle was release in 2012, but I have not read that yet so this is the marker. I should say at this point that I am a Dave Robicheaux fan of some years, but for me also that means any new novel has to meet some exacting standards.
The Glass Rainbow ticks all the boxes. Burke's descriptive style and restricted range of players forces the reader to either embrace the characterisations and their context or miss the plot almost entirely. Whatever the reality, Burke's portrayal of New Orleans' history, its people and places, the continuing racial undercurrents and its own class struggles, and the bringing of all that to a modern crime drama come across as convincing and compelling. Dave Robicheaux's world maybe a little fanciful, although Burke has a way of persuading one otherwise, but it is far from the fantasy that has seemingly overtaken other contemporary crime writers, there is enough to hang onto here to believe in the possibility that such events might occur.
If you are prepared to spend time getting to know Dave Robicheaux's world then Burke will paint you a romantic picture of some of the best and worst living conditions in America today, and go on to explain why they are the way they are as with the people who inhabit them. Meanwhile, the action scenes are as graphic and as gripping as any you might read. But it is in the dialogue that Burke really sharpens his attack, with the occasional passage that harks back to the very best of Hammett and Spillane, maybe even transcends it. The real friendship between Robicheaux and Purcell finally comes across in the silences between them as much as the almost incessant noise.

The Glass Rainbow has a great storyline too, with sufficient twists and turns to keep the most avid fan of the genre in tow. After such a journey, it would be understandable if Burke were to occasionally skip a beat, but he hasn't done it here. This is a top class addition to the Dave Robicheaux compendium.
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on 2 September 2015
The noir genre is one that revels in being over written, just balancing the ripeness of phrase with a compelling crime narrative is key. There is nothing quite like reading about a PI walking into a dark alleyway and coming across a mysterious killer or a femme fatale. The secret is not to overdo it and at over 500 pages there is not denying that James Lee Burke has overdone it this time. ‘The Glass Rainbow’ is an interesting and dark detective story that also feels around 200 pages too long. Burke is unable to stop himself from over explaining every characters smallest nuisance and when this comes at the cost of pace, this is annoying.

At the core ‘Glass’ is a standard outing in the Robicheaux series and when you are up to book 18 you know what to expect. There are no surprises in this book, therefore being slowly dragged through it feels even slower. There is no denying that Burke is a master of description, you can feel the heat in the air and the darkness of the characters – it’s just that the book is so slow it is like reading treacle.

Without any fresh twists or turns to justify the length, ‘Glass’ is one of those classic veteran author outings that suggests they write as much as they like and no longer ask the help of an editor. With a little snip here and there the book could have held the attention a lot better and stopped indulging in prose.
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on 22 November 2011
I have come to James Lee Burke's books rather late and started with this one but I found it so amazing I've gone back and tried to read them all in order. Burke writes beautifully even when he is describing the most horrific scenes. In The Tin Roof Blowdown his description of the carnage of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit was heartbreaking and reduced me to tears. He draws the most amazing characters and shows a good side to even the most evil characters, for example Troyce Nix in Swan Peak. His descriptions of the American South, Louisiana, Montana etc make me want to get on a plane and go there.
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on 24 July 2012
In fiction and entertainment, there have been some great double acts: Laurel and Hardy, Holmes and Watson, Morecombe and Wise, Morse and Lewis, Keith Harris and Orville. Add to this list Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell. They have partnered each other across all of the James Lee Burke novels about crime in New Iberia, Louisianna, where the ghosts of the Confederate militia roam the swamp lands and Dave's booze-damaged brain, seeking redemption through a bit of the old ultra-violence. The partnership looms large in this novel. I notice it's the 18th in the Dave Robicheaux series, and the man really needs to widen his social circle. He keeps running up against what seems to be the most degenerate bunch of killers and sadists to have walked through the pages of American crime. Fortunately he has his partner, Clete Purcell, along for the ride, watching his back and dealing out the kind of law enforcement that Dave only philosophises over.
I think I've read all 18 in this series, and I return to James Lee Burke as an author that won't really let me down. I don't think his style will be everyone's cup of tea, the plots don't always hang together and it's all a bit macho and old fashioned. But clearly I like it. I think this is one of his better novels, although I would admit that all of them now kind of merge together in my memory, with only the first one I read, "A Morning For Flamingos" really standing out. I read that one in the course of one rainy Bank Holiday Monday years ago, and never looked back.
No doubt I'll continue to read any more that the author writes as none of his novels have disappointed me. So here's to the next instalment....
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on 1 April 2013
I've been reading this guy's books for a long while now. Everything else you've already read is probably true. Great writer with a leaning toward Southern Gothic Grand Guignol, extreme violence & a humanist live & let live attitude to the decent working folk who have, and always will be, screwed downward into hardship by an uncaring, broken country.

Wonderful characters finely drawn populate his novels throughout. Only thing that springs to mind is this: how old must Dave Robicheaux be now... 75-ish... a little too old for his chosen profession..?
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