When you think of Southern writers, the names William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Robert Penn Warren, Tennessee Williams, Margaret Mitchell, James Dickey, and Harper Lee may come to mind. I’ve read many books by these and other illustrious authors from the American South, but none has called to mind a more evocative picture of the region than the superb detective novels in James Lee Burke‘s Dave Robicheaux series. However, chances are slim that you’ll find Burke on any list of eminent Southern writers, since genre fiction apparently doesn’t qualify as Literature. Too bad, because the man writes like an angel.
The Cajun detective, Dave Robicheaux, a twice-wounded Vietnam vet and former New Orleans cop, has returned to law enforcement in this fourth of the twenty novels that comprise the series to date. He’s back with the sheriff’s department in southern Louisiana’s New Iberia parish to earn enough money to get himself out of hock.
A Morning for Flamingos (Dave Robicheaux #4) by James Lee Burke ★★★★★
While transporting two convicted killers from the local jail to the state pen, where they’re destined for the electric chair, Robicheaux’s fellow deputy sheriff does something stupid. The killers escape, grievously wounding Robicheaux and killing his partner. Months later, even as he teams up with the DEA to go undercover with the New Orleans Mob, he is fixated on hunting down the man who nearly killed him, a psychopath named Jimmie Lee Boggs. The tale that unfolds is deliciously complex and compulsively suspenseful, and it celebrates the rich tapestry of sights, sounds, and smells that is southern Louisiana. This is not a tourist’s-eye view of the South but a deeply textured portrait by a native.
Twice winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar award for best novel of the year and named a Grand Master of the field, James Lee Burke is is 78 years old as of this writing. His daughter, Alafair Burke, is a crime writer in her own right, author of eleven novels and a long list of articles in law journals. (She is a Professor of Law at Hofstra Law School.)
For more great reading
You might also enjoy my posts:
- Top 10 mystery and thriller series
- 20 excellent standalone mysteries and thrillers
- 30 outstanding detective series from around the world
- Top 20 suspenseful detective novels
- Top 10 historical mysteries and thrillers
And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, on the Home Page.