Superb writing and a throbbing pace lift two-time Edgar-winner Burke's powerful, many-layered 14th Dave Robicheaux novel (after 2003's Last Car to Elysian Fields), which involves venal and arrogant members of a wealthy family that can trace its lineage to fifth-century France as well as the machinations of the New Orleans mafia.A conversation between Robicheaux and a dying childhood friend about Ida Durbin, a young prostitute that Robicheaux's half-brother, Jimmie, loved and lost in the late 1950s, sets the ex-homicide detective on a path that eventually leads to several gruesome killings and his near downfall. Unemployed, his wife dead, his daughter in college, Robicheaux rejoins the New Iberia, La., sheriff's department at the urging of Sheriff Helen Soileau, who needs an extra hand as the murders mount. While the tendrils of the sometimes rambling plot unfold, Robicheaux and his impulsive former police partner, PI Clete Purcell, seek retribution for injustices caused by a wide range of corrupt villains. Burke masterfully combines landscape and memory in a violent, complex story peopled by sharply defined characters who inhabit a lush, sensual, almost mythological world.
I am always struck by what a great writer Burke is. His command of the language is awesome! mixed in are such uniquely southern way of speaking that I wish I had a dictionary by my side! Highly recommended.
As much as I love Burke's writing, I still sometimes wish he weren't quite so verbose. Sometimes, I just don't need to read three paragraphs on how the mist hangs over the bayou in the morning, know what I mean? As to this particular story, I've read all the Robicheaux books up to this one, and I found this one to be one of the best so far. He started off good in his career and he just keeps getting better! One critic called Burke, "the rightful heir to Raymond Chandler", but I'd go further and say Burke has passed Chandler in talent.
I've read everything James Lee Burke has ever written, and now I'm reading books written by his real-life daughter, Alafair (who is a character in so many of his books - you can almost watch her grow up if you read his books in chronological order). He sets most of his stories in South Louisiana, and no one gets it right like JLB. The descriptions of the Louisiana landscape, with its dreamy, slow-moving bayous and dreamy, slow-moving way of life, the New Orleans he loves, the dialogue that is right on, even the history and culture of the Acadian, or 'Cajun' people (and in New Orleans, the Creoles)...he gets it all right, and you can tell he loves the place he lives and writes about. (Can you tell I'm a Louisiana lady?) :-)
Since the story is well-described, I won't attempt another description. But I will say that I believe anyone who enjoys a good mystery with in-depth characterizations and plenty of twists and turns, should truly enjoy the incomparable James Lee Burke.
In southern Louisiana, the land of Cajun, Creole, coonass, and the eternal bayou, you will find Sheriff's Detective Dave Robicheaux and P.I. Clete Purcell casually busy finding trouble at every turn.
James Lee Burke writes a very entertaining yarn about the seamier underside of life in geography that squishes just about any place you put your foot. This story has it's full complement of good guys, bad guys, and ladies to keep you entertained and engaged all the way through. He accurately describes both the environment and the people of the area in a State that has no counties. This one has a very satisfying ending. Good Read.
Rick B. (guitardude) reviewed Crusader's Cross : A Dave Robicheaux Novel (Dave Robicheaux Mysteries (Audio)) on
This was my first James Lee Burke novel, and it was recommended by another member. I loved the book. He reminds me a bit of Lawrence Block: Dave Robicheaux is a gritty, no apologies, antihero. The descriptions of New Orleans and the Bayou are fantastic, and lend a steamy,sultry,cajun atmosphere that pervades the entire book. Oddly, the editing was a little shoddy - I found several typos. Great book, nevertheless! Rick from Del Mar.
For detective Dave Robicheaux, memories-including those of a strange and violent summer from his youth- are best left alone. But a dying man's confession forces Robicheaux to resurrect a decades old mystery with a missing woman at its heart. Her name may or not have been Ida Durbin, and Robicheaux's half brother Jimmie, paid a brutal price for entering her world. Now the truth will plunge him into the manipulations of New Orleans' wealthiest family, into a complex love affair of his own, and into hot pursuit of a killer expanding his territory beyond the Big Easy at a frightening pace.
For Dave Robicheaux, life in Louisiana is filled with haunting memories of the past. In "Crusader Cross", a deathbed confession from an old schoolmate resurrects a story of injustice, the murder of a young woman, and a time in Robicheaux's life he has tried to forget.
Her name may or may not have been Ida Durbin. It was back in the innocent days of the 1950's when Robicheaux and his brother, Jummie, met her on a Galveston beach. She was pretty and Jummie fell for her hard--not knowing she was a prostitute on infamous Post Office Street, with ties to the mob. Then Ida was abducted and never seen again.
Now, decades later, Robicheaux is asking questions about Ida Durbin, and a couple of redneck deputy sheriff's make it clear that asking questions is a dangerous game. With a series of horrifying murders and the sudden appearance of Valentine Chalons and his sister, Robicheaux is soon involved with the murderous energies of the New Orleans underworld.