Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. MWA Grand Master Burke offers everything his readers expect–brilliant prose, prosaic situations that suddenly become mystic experiences, and a complex plot that repeatedly plumbs the depths of human depravity and the heights of nobility–in his superlative 18th novel featuring Iberia, La., deputy sheriff Dave Robicheaux (after Swan Peak). Robicheaux finds himself dealing with adopted daughter Alafair’s attraction to novelist Kermit Abelard of the degenerate Abelard clan (who echo Faulkner’s Snopses), as well as trying to avenge the sadistic murders of two young women, aided by best friend Clete Purcel. Evil comes in many forms, from the psychotic interloper Vidor Perkins to Robert Weingart, a convict turned author, whom Kermit has championed. The sights, smells, and sounds of the Louisiana bayous become sensory experiences in Burke’s novels, and death is a constant presence that threatens to overwhelm his angels with “tarnished wings.”
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Following his sojourn to Montana in Swan Peak (2008), Dave Robicheaux is back in New Iberia, Louisiana, hoping to enjoy the company of his adopted daughter, Alafair, who is taking a semester off from law school to finish a novel. Not nearly as suspicious of Louisiana’s blood-stained aristocracy as Dave, Alafair has become involved, romantically and otherwise, with Kermit Abelard, a writer who is also the son of one of the region’s most notorious robber barons. Kermit, along with his friend, an ex-con turned best-selling memoirist, volunteers to help Alafair find a publisher for her book, much to Dave’s chagrin. Father-daughter conflict ensues, and as Dave’s investigation of a series of murders veers ever closer to the Abelards, it appears that, yet again, the closets of Louisiana’s rich are knee-deep in skeletons. That plot summary sounds very much like a lot of Robicheaux novels, but this time Burke adds a new twist: both Dave and running-buddy Clete Purcell are hearing intimations of mortality around every fog-enveloped corner of the bayou, putting both them and us on high alert. Burke gives us a bravura ending in which the violence that has always hovered around Dave’s life comes home to roost, possibly with far-reaching implications for the series. The first half of this book is standard Robicheaux, almost formulaic (a winning formula but a formula all the same), but in the last half, Burke kicks into another gear: superb suspense leading to a gripping, set-piece finale that is a masterpiece of texture and mood, with the high-energy climax in the foreground both contrasted against and supported by the intensely lyrical, heavily melancholic prose that swells and recedes underneath the action. Not to be missed by any follower of the landmark series. –Bill Ott