Black Cherry Blues is the third entry in the Dave Robicheaux series, and it remains my favorite of all of James Lee Burke s novels As the book opens, Robicheaux, a former New Orleans homicide detective, is now running a bait and boat rental shop in the Louisiana bayou He s a recovering alcoholic who remains haunted by the brutal death of his wife, Annie, who was murdered by drug dealers Parenthetically, no man in the history of crime fiction has had worse luck with wives than poor Dave Robicheaux I ve lost track of how many wives he s now lost over the course of this long running series, but it s an amazing number Dave is struggling to raise his six year old daughter, Alafair, and to adjust to the loss of his wife, when an old college roommate named Dixie Lee Pugh comes back into his life Pugh left college to become a rock and roll musician Later, while driving drunk, he hit and killed a child and was sent to prison Now out, he s working as a leaseman for an oil company up in Montana One thing leads to another, and Pugh manages to involve Dave with some very unsavory characters When one of those characters is murdered, Dave is set up to take the fall for the crime.The principal witness against Dave is Harry Mapes, a scumbag who s associated with the crew that Pugh runs with up in Montana Mapes has taken off to Montana and Dave decides that in order to clear his name and save himself from a long stretch in prison, he ll have to go to Montana and track the guy down Accordingly, Dave packs up his daughter and drives up to Missoula There he rents a house, puts Alafair in school and sets about trying to get himself out of this jam.It won t be easy Both Mapes and Pugh have tied in with a mobster named Sal Dio Dio has a home on Flathead Lake, seventy miles north of Missoula, and when Dave shows up there, he discovers that Clete Purcell, his old partner from the N.O.P.D Homicide Unit, is also working for Dio Dio is attempting to expand his interests into Montana and he and his associates, Harry Mapes included, may have committed several murders in an attempt to protect their operations in the Treasure State Dave s efforts to unscramble this mess and to somehow clear his name will lead him down a rabbit hole of horror.This is a very dark, dense, violent novel It s also beautifully written in a lyrical style that few other authors can match Burke knows this territory intimately, and as in all of his books, the setting becomes a character in and of itself Even this early in the series, Dave Robicheaux has become one of the most conflicted characters ever to populate a crime novel The man is haunted bydemons than any rational person should be able to bear he lives in a world so corrupt as to seem unsalvageable, and yet he somehow soldiers on It can sometimes be hard to watch him do so, but at the same time, you can t pull your eye away from the page A truly great read. This novel is best suited for people who like a darkness of human character intertwined with an engaging clue trail amidst melancholy yet beautiful writing Robicheaux is back and not too soon This time around he s recovering from a horrible loss in his family, getting over his binge with alcoholism and wouldn t you know it but the poor guy tries to help an old college friend and gets framed for murder What s a detective to do Apparently, drive to Montana with his foster daughter.I m kidding, really The clue trail leads that way and so we re off to another state in the Union Additionally, the head honcho who is responsible for framing Robicheaux is up there as well as an old friend from the first novel Robicheaux also has two romances in Montana but you can tell they re both short term.Again I could say a lotbut I d give spoilers so here are some particular passages I enjoyed which don t give too much away chokengititikchokeng 26 A woman once told me my face looked like soil erosion I think it was my wife p 29I am not going to get involved with his troubles, I told myself When you use, you lose A mean lesson, but when you become involved with an addict or a drunk, you simply become an actor in a script that they ve written for you as well as themselves I can t come, Sister I m sorry, I said She paused Is that all you want me to tell him she asked He needs a lawyer I can give you a couple of names in Lafayette or St Martinville She paused again They must teach it in the convent, I thought It s an electric silence that makes you feel you re sliding down the sides of the universe I m sorry To be frank, so am I, she said, and hung upchokengtitiktitikchokeng 39 40We sat at one of the checker cloth tables on the screen porch by the way, a big bib with a red crawfish on it tied around Alafair s neck, and looked out at the sun setting across the miles of dead cypress, saw grass, the sandy inlets, the wetlands that stretches across Texas The tied was out, and the jetties were black and stark against the flat gray expanse of the bay and the strips of purple and crimson cloud that had flattened the western horizon Seagulls dipped and wheeled over the water s edge, and a solitary blue heron stood among the saw grass in an inlet pool, his long body and slender legs like a painting on the airchokengtitiktitikchokeng 47 letter P.S If you run into Lois, tell her I m sorry for ripping her off I left my toothbrush in the bathroom I want her to have itchokengtitiktitikchokeng72 I heard his pistol come out of his leather holster, felt his hand clamp down on my neck as he stuck the barrel of the revolver behind my ear You re under arrest for murder You think being an ex cop lets you write the rules he said Out of the corner of my eye I saw Alafair staring at us with the stunned, empty expression of person wakened from a nightmarechokengtitiktitikchokeng 91 and I wondered if I had any chance at all of having a normal life again, of being an ordinary person who lived in an ordered town like this and who did not wake up each morning with his fears sitting collectively on his chest like a grinning gargoylechokengtitiktitikchokeng 274 After supper we did the dishes together while Alafair watched television When her leg bumped against me, she smiled awkwardly as though we had been jostled against one another on a bus, then her eyes looked at my face with both expectation and perhaps a moment s fear I suspected she was one of those whose hearts could be easily hurt, one to whom a casual expression of affection would probably be interpreted as a large personal commitmentchokengtitiktitikchokeng 307 I think she reminded me of one of those girls whom Catholic boys were always told, when I was growing up, that they should marry I doubt that a girl of that kind ever existed, but we believed she did, anyway p 364 I believe every middle aged man remembers the girl he thinks he should have married She reappears to him in his lonely moments, or he sees her in the face of a young girl in the park, buying a snowball under an oak tree by the baseball diamond But she belongs back there, to somebody else, and that thought sometimes rends your heart in a way that you never share with anyone else Overall, a very satisfying conclusion CHARACTER PLOTTING B to B plus STORY PLOTTING B plus SETTING B plus to A minus CLUE TRAIL B plus WRITING STYLE A minus OVERALL GRADE B plus WHEN READ May 2012 to January 2013. 4.25 Rather timely 27 years after publication I d say Up in Montana, Star Drilling is going after hundreds of millions of dollars in oil only problem is, its under pristine wilderness and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation Shades of Standing Rock Twenty years ago that same company had a faulty platform out in the ocean that killed Dave s father He s putting his nose where some don t think it belongs and threats to his six year old little girl are just one of the consequences That brings out Dave s tendency to want to control the situation and of course the B word.All right then, I thought I was making this variation up, but no, there it is on several sites though for sure auto correct is like WTF and has it underlined in red.Badassness.Urban Dictionary Badassness is the state of being badass.Portland actually has a Badassness Map on Vimeo YourDictionary asks How would you define badassness Wiktionary says it s a state of having extreme appearance, attitude, or behavior that is considered admirable Someone submitted a question I m looking for a better way to say badass that doesn t use any words that could be considered profanity you won t find it here.Trust me, this one was seriously good I love to have girl fun with my JLB reviews but alongside all that, this is worthy of the praise Author Ron Hansen wrote There s plenty of action and adventure, but the novel is absorbing even in its quiet moments, when you watch Dave Robicheaux valiantly try to conduct his honest and honorable life The reader always gets .I wonder where he s taking me next time After this third date we re on third base and I m ready for a black cherry tattoo.Ya ll don t think I ve lost my powers of discretion do you, or ruining my reputation and credibility on Goodreads Be honest. Black Cherry Blues is the third in the Dave Robicheaux series and a familiar pattern starts to emerge of a man shoving his nose where it has no place being, that generally puts both his life and everyone close to him in potential jeopardy Thankfully Robicheaux doesn t fall of the wagon this time, so there s no depressing plummet into alcoholism but he does have some particularly annoying traits You can t help thinking, your adopted little girl and the couple that run your business when you re off fucking everything up are gonna die, man, reign yourself back in I guess this is why good old Dave is a character you can t help but get emotionally invested in, whether it be good shit or bad shit, you re in it for the duration To the story, Dave runs into ex college buddy Dixie Lee Pugh, in a diner Dixie has problems and soon enough Dave s paying a visit to the hospital, he didn t want to get involved but you know, he might just end up helping the guy When he does there s no going back and pretty soon he s up on a murder charge and linked to Dixie s mafia buddies He makes bond by mortgaging everything he owns and then he s off with his adopted charge, young Alafair, to Montana desperate to prove his innocence He throws himself into dangerous situations with reckless abandon, with neither thought nor care for repercussion and it s this wildness that has you tearing your hair out We also have the reintroduction of his old partner now working for the mafia, Clete Purcell and their relationship is yet another reason to draw you into a series that has some remarkably powerful characters Mafia, the oil business and an Indian reservation all careen through Dave s life, even an Indian woman and the start of a relationship until the inevitable happens, destiny is a heavy weight on this man s shoulders and shit happens, as they say There s a lot of depth to the character, you frequently travel back with him to his armed forces days and Vietnam, he sees and speaks with his dead wife, dreams of her Which reiterates the fact that she died because he was involved in something he really should have avoided but Dave Robicheaux is not someone who turns the other cheek It s why bad things follow him relentlessly trying their best to cause him grief The writing is brilliant as ever, the prose is Southern fried at its most delicious, James Lee Burke paints a scene better than most, his characters are as gripping as a bear hug from the biggest wrestler and he is easily up there with my favourite authors.Also posted at This book won the Edgar Award in 1990 and it is easy to see why I have read several of the books in the Dave Robicheaux series and this may be my favorite so far There are few authors that I have encountered who have the ability to set the scene so that you feel like you are actually there His descriptions of a bayou, a lake, the mountains, the rain, even the local foods are masterful As are the characters in his stories A great story teller in every sense.In Black Cherry Blues Robicheaux is still dealing with the death of Annie and being a single parent to Alafair The love that he and Annie shared is still strong even in death As is his love for Alafair, the girl he rescued from a plane that crashed in the bayou in Heaven s Prisoners In this outing you can see the bond between father and daughter The smile on Alafair s face or the steps Dave will take to protect her There are moments of comical relief such as when he constantly corrects her grammar Don t say ain t Alafair has apparently picked up some Cajun since the last novel Maybe from Batist who works for Dave in his bait and boat rental business The story opens when Robicheaux runs into an old college roommate Dixie Lee Pugh is a burned out musician He had a brief taste of success but lost that to drink and drugs Now he works for a Montana oil business and for a small time wise guy named Sally Dio He has a problem he would like to talk to Robicheaux about In very short time Dixie Lee s problem becomes Robicheaux s problem Robicheaux finds himself framed for murder and the only way to clear himself and stop from being sent to Angola prison is to go to Montana and find the person who framed him We once again meet Clete Purcel, his former partner on the New Orleans Police Department, who is also working for Dio This is a story of a land hungry oil company, the Mafia, and American Indian activists Dave Robicheaux is a very complex character He is haunted by the memories of his mother who left the family when he was a boy, the untimely death of his father on an oil rig in the Gulf, his military service in Vietnam, his alcoholism, and of the murder of Annie who he could not save He is not always easy to like but overall you can forgive these flaws for his just being human and dealing with life the best way he can. Dave Robicheaux does not know when enough is enough He keeps sticking his nose in where it doesn t belong and in the process puts those he loves at risk He s like a dog with a bone and he will not let go Sometimes I think the alcohol fried his brain He may be sober now but he is always one drink away from a drunk Actually I don t know if he could really be described as sober He seems to live in a perpetual dry drunk.He may not be that likable as a character, but James Lee Burke s writing makes it all worthwhile.In Black Cherry Blues, Dave gets involved in the business of Dixie Lee Pugh, his freshman college roommate, who went on to be famous in the early days of rock n roll Nowadays it seems that wherever Dixie Lee goes, trouble follows and at first Robicheaux doesn t want any part of it But as it turns out, he can t resist getting involved.In this book he and his daughter, Alafair, follow trouble all the way from Louisiana to Montana.Burke has some of the best descriptive powers of any writer, so much so that you think you re right there.There are a lot of evil people in this world and Dave Robicheaux seems to want to meet them all It s always black and white with him I sometimes get frustrated with all the trouble he gets himself into but I keep reading.James Lee Burke is one of my favorite authors The first book I read by him was Wayfaring Stranger, a book that I received as an advanced reading copy That book pulled me in and made me want to read everything he wrote I have him for my Bookworm one author challenge I m enjoying the challenge so far I just wish sometimes that Dave Robicheaux weren t so pig headed. BACK IN THE UNDERWORLD HE TRIED TO LEAVE BEHIND Haunted By The Memory Of His Wife S Murder And His Father S Untimely Death, Ex New Orleans Cop Dave Robicheaux Spends His Days In A Fish And Tackle Business But When An Old Friend Makes A Surprise Appearance, Robicheaux Finds Himself Thrust Back Into The Violent World Of Mafia Goons And Wily Federal Agents From The Louisiana Bayou To Montana S Tribal Lands, Robicheaux Is Running From The Bottle, A Homicide Rap, A Professional Killer And The Demons Of His Past Rich With Fascinating Characters And Dramatic Plot Twists, The Audio Debut Of James Lee Burke And His Cajun Detective Dave Robicheaux Recalls The Best Of Raymond Chandler S Philip Marlowe Tough, Complex And Thoroughly Entertaining Finally, a modern author who isn t afraid to take his time and use language as it is meant to be used in a novel Patterson tells a hell of a storybut Burke makes the read wholly worthwhile and rewarding I believe everyman remembers the girl he thinks he should have married She reappears to him in his lonely moments, or he sees her in the face of a young girl in the park, buying a snowball under an oak tree by the baseball diamond But she belongs to back there, to somebody else, and that thought sometimes rends your heart in a way that you never share with anyone else. Wow This is the first time I ve read James Lee Burke but have wanted to a long time since this book won the Edgar Award I like to follow those books which are nominated and or receive an Edgar.Must check it out but thought this was the first in the series, and I hope so because just read something which said, it just keeps getting better That s quite a compliment since this book was a great read with all the elements I, personally, love in a book.The characters were described with clarity, were easy to keep up with and the plot was fantastic One of the elements I really love though, is the description of the landscape and this was full of wonderful adjectives taking the reader from southern Louisana to Texas and Montana The character, Dave Robicheaux, obviously has had his share of sadness and how he responds to trouble is based, in part, to his past experiences which he describes in almost a mystical manner Just another reason I like Burke s writing So glad my reader friend Sandy found this one for me I owe it to her Gave four stars but waffledwithout much effort I could have given it five I really like everything about this book Aw, hell, I m changing it and giving it five stars I really, really liked it UPDATE Just read an article passed to me by Goodreads friend Lynette By the way, I compared books and there are 131 books we both have read It goes without saying that our tastes are definately similarwe laugh about it, too And for those who do not know my and Lynette s favorite genre, it s mysteries James Burke, T Jeff Parker, Michael Connelly, John Lescroart, Robert Crais and oh, Robert Crais And I say above, Burke can only get better, and yes, I was right Dave Robicheaux has only gotten better Lynette is on her way to read John D MacDonald who she s never read and I m on my way to read J A Jance, who I ve never read That s what GR friends are for The article she thought I would like and I loved it was an interview with Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin who said The opening chapter of Black Cherry Blues, his first Dave Robicheaux novel, it is an absolute classic If I was going to take a class on crime writing I would just give the students this chapter It s the perfect opening chapter of a book Everything you need is in there the characters, the situation, a suggestion of what might happen, what the theme might be bang, in one short chapter Here s a link to the article on Ian Rankin creator of Scottish maverick Rebus who is also on my to read list now with his love of the masters, Raymond Chandler, Leonard Ellroy, Leonard El and of course, James Lee Burke Blood and Beer With Ian RankinThanks to Lynette for bringing this article to light or dark murder Great observations on American crime writers by Ian Rankin. Audiobook James LeeBurke is a master His writing is vivid, the characters well drawn, and the plots intriguing Dave Robicheaux is an ex New Orleans cop whose partner, Dixie Lee, now a lease man for an oil company thinks he has overheard two other lease men discussing burying a body Unsure as to what he heard and what to do about it, he seeks Dave s help In the meantime Dave chain whips a bad guy he really should have known better and the guy turns up dead so Dave is facing a murder charge He s been a homicide detective but apparently has little faith in their ability to solve the crime and find the real killer so he heads for Montana to sort things out where his murder charge is resolved are you really surprised in the midst of Native Americans fighting against a land hungry oil company that s probably a redundancy There was something a bit off about this novel Perhaps it was that Dave was no longer in Louisiana perhaps it was the to my mind excessive guilt ridden self examination that seemsa plea for forgiveness from others than seeking to understand himself perhaps it was the excessively slow cadence of the reader who I normally like very much Will Patton perhaps it was the implausible plot and would you take your six year old daughter on a dangerous mission or, perhaps it was that I didn t get the same sense of place that usually pervades Burke s Louisiana Robicheax novels Then again it might have been the outrageous way he solves the case Personally, had I been the social worker, there is no way I would ever have placed Alifair with Dave given the level of violence with which he surrounds himself.But he does write beautifully.