This is a revised review as of 4 14 2013 with some images to add flavor.It s like a lot of detective novels set in the 1980s except the real standouts are the fact that it s New Orleans and the author gets that particular sub culture Burke has an elegant prose and his main character, David Robicheaux, is engaging Robicheaux is a 50 something hard boiled detective who survived the Vietnam War yet is still haunted by it and thus turns to drinking though it becomes evident later he was drinking before he went to war He has since joined the police force as a detective and has a corrupt partner named Cletus who seems to have the best, crude lines In this first novel Robicheaux gets caught up in the death of a black prostitute who everybody else seems to want to write off yet Robicheaux feels strangely compelled to poke his nose into things which leads to resistance not only from the mob but his own allies the police The tale was certainly very good to great in overall quality and most of the characters are believable to compelling Word on the street is that the series gets better in time and that s a real good sign as this was a solid and enjoyable book Veterans of this genre will becritical, I suspect This is one of those rare instances in which I checked out the series after seeing the movie I would present that the real strengths of this tale other than it being a solid mystery are its usual focuses upon the bayou, New Orleans NOLA and DR s alcoholism for a dark tragedy comes down upon him and he finds himself drinking that golden fire oncehe alludes to drinking before the series started and having an alcoholic father Rarely have I read something that has made me understand the addictions of alcohol and how hard it is to shake off But even all those reading pleasures are a still a notch down from the character of New Orleans The Bayou with its balmy heat waves, summer rains, Poorboy sandwiches, evening skies that are the color of torn plums, cicadas in the purple haze, fireflies lighting up the trees, and, of course, the charm of not just New Orleans but its French Quarter That makes it a pleasure to read and bumps up the overall quality of the novel I look forward to reading the next oneHere are few excerpts from the novel p 1 The evening sky was streaked with purple, the color of torn plums, and a light rain had started to fall when I came to the end of the blacktop road that cut through twenty miles of thick, almost impenetrable scrub oak and pine and stopped at the front gate of Angola penitentiarychokengtitiktitikchokeng 49 Oh, my, you shouldn t have done that, the man in the raincoat said Erik grabbed my hair and slammed my head against the side of the tub I kicked at all of them blindly, but my feet struck at empty air Then Bobby Joe locked his powerful arms around my neck and took me over the rim again, his body trembling rigidly with a cruel and murderous energy, and I knew that all my past fears of being shotgunned by a psychotic , of being shanked by an addict, of stepping on a Clay mine in Vietnam, were just the foolish preoccupation of youth that my real nemesis had always been a redneck lover who would hold me upside down against his chest while my soul slipped through a green, watery porcelain hole in the earth, down through the depths of the Mekong River, where floated the bodies of other fatigue clad men and whole families of civilians, their faces still filled with disbelief and the shock of an artillery burst, and farther still to the mossy base of an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, where my father waited for me in his hardhat, coveralls, and steel tipped drilling boots after having drowned there twenty years agochokengtitiktitikchokeng 80 Why are you so obnoxious, Motley Clete said Is it because you re fat and ugly, or is it because you re fat and dumb It s a mystery to us all p 121 I slept through the rest of the afternoon and woke in the cooling dusk when the cicadas were loud in the purple haze and the fireflies were lighting in the trees I showered and felt some of the misery begin to go out of my mind and body, then I took a taxi to the Hertz agency and rented a small Ford.Because most of the Quarter was closed to automobile traffic at night, I parked the car near the French Market, by the river, and walked back to Bourbon The street was loud with music from the bars and strip houses, and the sidewalks were filled with tourists, drunks, and street people who were trying to hold on to their last little piece of American geography My favorite bunch of hustlers and scam artists, the black sidewalk tap dancers, were out in force They wore enormous iron taps that clipped onto their shoes, and when they danced to the music from the bars, their feet rang on the concrete like horseshoes A tap dancer would stop a tourist, rivet him in the eyes, and say, I bet you a half dollar I can tell you where you got yo shoes If the tourist accepted the wager, the dancer would then say, You got yo shoes on yo feet, and yo feet is on Bourbon Street You ain t the kind, now, to back out on yo bet, is youSTORY PACING B plus to A minus DIALOGUE CHARACTERS B plus SETTING A minus WHEN READ December to January 2010 revised review 4 14 2013 MY GRADE B plus to A minus. Detective Dave Robicheaux Has Fought Too Many Battles In Vietnam, With Killers And Hustlers, With Police Brass, And With The Bottle Lost Without His Wife S Love, Robicheaux S Haunted Soul Mirrors The Intensity And Dusky Mystery Of New Orleans French Quarter The Place He Calls Home, And The Place That Nearly Destroys Him When He Becomes Involved In The Case Of A Young Prostitute Whose Body Is Found In A Bayou Thrust Into The World Of Drug Lords And Arms Smugglers, Robicheaux Must Face Down A Subterranean Criminal World And Come To Terms With His Own Bruised Heart In Order To Survive Great Louisiana atmosphere and a good deal of violence in this, the first of the Dave Robicheaux mysteries Entertaining but not compelling. Everyone says too many books, too little time I m changing it to too many great writers, too little time The first book I read by James Lee Burke was Wayfaring Stranger I read it before it was published in July of 2014 because I received an advance reading copy from the publisher It was an unbelievably good book and I wanted to readfrom this author So here it is August of 2017 and I have just finished my second book by James Lee Burke How could I let so many years go by without reading another book by this great author It s not like I only read occasionally I always have a book going if not 2 or3 There are always new authors coming on the horizon and the older ones are still there I guess that I should consider myself lucky to have so many choices,Neon Rain is James Lee Burke s first Dave Robicheaux book and I knew before reading it that he survived because of all the Dave Robicheaux series that came after Like all the detective novels this one pits the good guys against the bad guys, but sometimes the line between the two gets blurred But outside that usual plot line, James Lee Burke paints vivid pictures of New Orleans so that I felt like I was actually there enjoying the sights, sounds and smells I will take a pass on the poor boy sandwiches dripping with shrimp and oysters that Dave seems to love He lives on a houseboat, reminiscent of the Travis McGee novels by John D MacDonald that I read so many years ago Dave Robicheaux is a recovering alcoholic who attends AA meetings but is always one step away from a drunk.We are introduced to his half brother Jimmie, who is the son of a whore that their father frequented They are raised by their father, a poor Cajun who loved and cared for his boys the best he could Dave and Jimmie love each other as only brothers can despite the fact that they have gone down different paths When someone tries to take Jimmie out there is nothing that will get in the way of Dave bringing them down.He stick his nose in where the government doesn t want it but Dave Robicheaux doesn t care He wants to see that justice, as he defines it, is done He ends up getting involved in Nicaraguan politics because he wants to see justice done for a young, black hooker who ends up dead because she too unknowingly gets in the middle of this political game.In the end Dave Robicheaux lives to fight another day As we leave them, he and his girl, Annie, are sailing off into the sunset on his houseboat which is being towed to a new location I felt that the plot of this book was secondary to setting the scene for future novels in this series You definitely have to read this book before you can read any of the others I am fascinated by the thought of getting to know Dave Robicheaux better. 3.5After reading six Holland Family novels I just had to start this series I began with a bit of trepidation because I knew those books would be a hard act to follow Here s what happened.It took me right back to New Orleans which I visited about the time the novel was written.It opened a hardcore window into a man s soul as he daily struggles to say no to the siren call of alcoholism.It brought back all the reasons I participated in anti Vietnam War marches, though I really had no honest clue at the time.It was sick with violence, oh so dark, made me wince so why read it The unpalatable can be endured because the man can write His deeply flawed protagonists burrow in deep as you struggle right alongside with them I was clipping my dogs nails the other day after giving her a sedative As my husband was holding her and whispering sweet things in her ear she just surrendered and enjoyed the whole process.JLB does that to you with his prose, even when telling you about a guy getting tortured and killed He can keep the reader in a state of animated reading enjoyment even when the story gets chaotic with all the myriad characters and heat going down as it did with this one It did not have the same impact on me as the ones that came before and my rating reflects that, but I m certain the series will keep getting better after all it s been going strong for a quarter of a century I intend to find out for myself if Dave and I will get a thing goin and let ya ll know. I know an author setting a book in a city known for its food like New Orleans would really want to get the regional flavor across by having the characters chow down on the local cuisine, but do they really eat that many po boy sandwiches down there Hell, I m from Kansas City, but I don t eat barbecue every day James Lee Burke kicked off this long running crime series back in the late 80s Dave Robicheaux is a recovering alcoholic, a Vietnam vet Yet again confirming my theory that all tough guy hero characters created in the 80s are Vietnam vets , and a police lieutenant in New Orleans When a death row inmate tells Dave that someone has put a contract out on his life, Dave finds it hard to believe that anything he s working on would rate someone trying to kill a police officer However, it s not one of his cases that have caused Dave problems While fishing in a rural area, Dave had found a woman s body in the water and called in the local sheriff s office When he found that the sheriff had the body cremated without an autopsy, Dave got curious It s that curiosity that lands Dave in all kinds of hot water with local gangsters, crooked cops and some creepy covert types who are tied in with some shennigans in Central America Dave has to fend off attempts on his life while his career is also threatened, and the temptation of the bottle may lead him into even further trouble.I spent a few weeks in New Orleans shortly after Katrina, so it was hard not to wince a bit while reading this because Burke wrote Dave as being a native who genuinely loves his city The long descriptions of various locales had me constantly wondering if they were still there as I remembered the damage I saw So this is a book that later events have added a bittersweet vibe to.Overall, I enjoyed the story Dave reminded me a bit of Matt Scudder with the alcoholic angle and with his being a good guy, but not someone out to change the world The character, setting and main story were all intriguing However, I didn t like the romance angle added in with Dave meeting and getting a new girlfriend right as the action ramped up Would any woman really keep going out with a guy after they both get assaulted and nearly killed on their first date Plus, Dave makes a series of decisions late in the book that seem downright stupid.Still, this was a gritty crime story with Cajun flavor I need to readDave s stories. One of the movies on endless repeat with my best high school friend and I was The Big Easy with Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin That and a couple trips to New Orleans are the sum of my Louisiana experience, and yet, when I read Neon Rain I feel as if I m there, ghosting alongside Dave Robicheaux as he investigates Burke s writing is extremely evocative, in the very best way for the detective centered mystery A strong since of place, of the cultural gumbo of New Orleans and the surrounding rural area clinging to its heritage by fingertips It also has an equally strong sense of a narrator in turmoil It s a powerful book that begins with a New Orleans Police Department detective, Lt Dave Robicheaux, visiting an former button man on death row, only to learn about a death threat against himself Coincidentally, about two weeks ago, he discovered the body of a young black woman while he was fishing down by Lake Cataouatche Something about the needle tracks down her arm and her clothing bothers his instincts, and he starts hounding the rural sheriff s department to follow through with investigating her death Her young face looked like a flower unexpectedly cut from its stem Characterization in this book is riveting Robicheaux is the cop with his own code who slowly learns no one else shares, that he s holding to values from another time It s interesting to watch his gradual realization he believes he s so cynical, so dialed in in the beginning, and he s a bit right Early on, when he meets with the parish sheriff to request an autopsy for the drowned girl, he ends up in a contest of wills that nearly becomes disastrous Back in New Orleans, he harasses a porno theater owner, looking for the word on who wants to kill him Both times, he s so sure of his stance and the way to manipulate the situation for results but then is surprised when it comes back at him Slowly, it dawns that everyone is working their own angle He suspects that, he halfway knows it, but he can t quite conceive the absolute depth of the dishonesty.Robicheaux also struggles with memories from the Vietnam war, and many of his coping strategies seem to stem from wartime experience Its interesting being reminded of the psychological impact of a war that hasn t been on our cultural consciousness for twenty five years, overshadowed byrecent ones in sand and desert My dad was in Vietnam, and I remember that period in the 1980s when I kept bugging him to talk about his experiences, first because of Platoon and then later Born on the Fourth of July That s the kind of book Burke has written, far ranging and capable of recapturing a lost cultural time, and conjuring up memories of one s own The lush descriptions of the setting are beautiful, and Burke doeswith light and smells than any other mystery writer I can think of, immersing the reader in the scene Yet when the action comes, it s powerful and direct, even if it takes place in flashbacks His first sentence guaranteed I would keep reading The evening sky was streaked with purple, the color of torn plums, and a light rain had started to fall when I came to the end of the blacktop road that cut through twenty miles of thick, almost impenetrable scrub oak and pine and stopped at the front gate of Angola penitentiary The ultimate connections between the unknown woman s drowning, view spoiler the Columbians, the federal agents and the general hide spoiler Two months ago I d never even heard of James Lee Burke never mind the renowned Dave Robicheaux, a New Orleans s detective who is the main character in a twenty book series and there s also a couple of films about the guy I would have remained in this completely unaware state had it not been for my praise of Will Patton s narration of Doctor Sleep, a fellow blogger recommended his narration of the Robicheaux series, so I looked into it and lo and behold, I find three of my favourite authors hold him in very high regard and two of them recommended his books to me So got to be worth a try, right.The Neon Rain is fast approaching thirty years old but that didn t matter in the slightest, as I was completely blown away by a story I just couldn t stop listening to Dave Robicheaux s tale is filled with twists and turns, a bared back torture scene that he is lucky to escape from, the mafia, drugs, weapons smuggling and a personnel life that gets you deeply inside the character I was that invested in the story, I found myself intensely disappointed in him when he jumped off the wagon and hit the bottle with a vengeance His life is absolutely fascinating, intricate and complex with a gritty darkness that is never far away He has a dynamic, sometimes forceful persistence to his personality and the forthright dialogue was intriguing in a way that, well I guess everyone wishes they could say exactly what needed to be said, every time instead of forever hiding Robicheaux has the quick answers and intelligence to match, he tells it like it is, in a way that you and I would only think of after the conversation was long finished I loved everything about this book, the main character, the setting, the dialogue all blended seamlessly with a compelling prose, that Will Patton turned into something special I ve already got quite a few books lined up by James Lee Burke, only wish I d discovered him years ago.http paulnelson.booklikes.com post I bought about five copies of the hard cover and passed them out to my friends This is an amazingly good book Got Mr Burke to sign my copy Now I kind of wish I would have kept a couple as the first edition sell for between 300 and 500 dollars in good shape, but at the time I enjoyed the book so much I wanted to have every one I know read it. Enjoy detective fiction , they asked Read a Dave Robicheaux book , they said.So I did.And now I have a problem I feel both soiled and exhilarated in equal measure.This is some good detective fiction, but damn is it gritty I regret nothing.