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Crusader's Cross by James Lee Burke
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Crusader's Cross

by James Lee Burke

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1,0092713,093 (3.98)19
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.... Robicheaux and his impulsive former police partner, PI Clete Purcell, seek retribution for injustices caused by a wide range of corrupt villains.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Meh. I'm not really sure how to review this. I've followed the Dave Robicheaux novels forever (albeit not always in order). Usually I love them and would give it 5 stars without hesitation. This one certainly contained all the elements of the series: the flashbacks, the little glimpses of bayou life, the sometimes almost comical by-play between characters. I loved the way the title tied in this time too: Dave on a cross (Isn't he always?), a nun, and of course, with one of the murders.
The characters didn't disappoint either. Dave was just as... well, Dave... as always, although towards the end of the book, he gets a little too "sunlight and fluffy bunnies" for my taste. But hey, character development happens. Besides, he's been bagged on enough, he's deserved a little sunlight. Clete is his usual over-the-top, psychotic, unrepentant self, and Helen is as sardonic as always. Dave's brother is in this one, and he struck me as an obsessive mook.
Ida Durbin was probably my one sore point in the characters, because I simply didn't care. She was nothing but a memory and a phantom through most of the book, and she could have stayed that way for all I cared. The way Dave and his brother met her was funny, but that was about it. When she disappeared, I didn't care if she was dead or not. I continued to not care clear through to the final page. I didn't hate her, because to hate, you have to care. I didn't, at all. She was nothing but words on a page that I had to get through to get back to something I cared about.
Even with that, I would give it 5 stars...
But then I get to the murder mystery part. There I had an issue. Maybe it was because I read the first half of the book, then had to put it aside for a few months because life got in the way. Up to the point at which I found out who the killer was, it was really going well with plenty of twists and turns. I was really interested to find out who the killer was, and who's theory was right. Then I did find out... and went "Huh? Why?" I still feel like I missed some key point that would have clarified it all for me, yet I can't figure out how I could have missed anything that major if it was there.
As such, from that angle, it barely chokes out 3 stars.
So, I suppose I'll give it 4. As a part of the series, it fit in very nicely, and there was some very nice character development, and I certainly wouldn't suggest not reading it if you enjoy Mr. Robicheaux and his group. I mostly read these because I enjoy the characters anyway. It may be my own fault I feel like I don't know everything I should know, and because of that, I'll put it in my list of books to reread to see if I catch on the second time around. ( )
  shadowelf76 | Apr 1, 2015 |
Since we were on our way to Louisiana as a way to celebrate retirement I decided I should read some of the books by James Lee Burke that I had sitting on my shelf. Crusader’s Cross is #15 in the Dave Robicheaux series and takes place mostly in New Iberia but New Orleans and other places are also mentioned. It was a great way to remind me of how Burke describes the Louisiana countryside.
When the book opens Dave is reminiscing about a summer he and his half-brother, Jimmie, spent a summer working on a seismograph crew along the Louisiana-Texas coastline. They worked 10 days on and 5 days off and they spent their off time on Galveston Island. They got to know a young prostitute named Ida and Jimmie fell hard for her. They planned to run off to Mexico together but before they could Ida disappeared. Dave always figured Ida’s pimp had her killed but Jimmie thought she was perhaps still alive. Dave had almost forgotten about Ida but an old college classmate made a dying confession to him about her and Dave felt he had to follow up on it. He has recently retired as a detective for the New Iberia Sheriff’s office. His wife, Bootsie, died and his daughter, Alafair, is away at college. In order to investigate the case about Ida he asks for his old job back and the sheriff agrees provided he help with a murder case that looks like it might the work of a serial killer. Both investigations seem to involve the wealthy Chalons family and Dave hardly seems to move without running across one of the Chalons. In the course of his investigations he meets and falls in love with a nun by the name of Molly Burke. Fans of the later Robicheaux books will recognize that Molly becomes his fourth wife. That romance provides one bright spot in a book that has lots of violence and corruption.
I hope that I won’t experience the dark side of Louisiana on this trip; but I am pumped to experience the beauty and culture. ( )
  gypsysmom | Nov 7, 2014 |
Maybe I need to read a few more in the Robicheaux series to appreciate this detective's personality. I do like the setting (New Orleans and southward),but got annoyed by the constant references to the climate of the region (usually silent lightning over the gulf alternating with some rain the night before). The character was maddening in the way his dialogue with others seemed artificially short. Finally, there were some interesting plot twists but a lot that was predicable. ( )
  jklavanian | Oct 17, 2014 |
From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. 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.
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Bookmarks Magazine The aging Robicheaux has led a full life—full of loss, violence, and evil. Critics agree that Crusader’s Cross is a worthy addition to the series. It’s all here—the violence, the power plays, the class and racial tensions, Robicheaux’s stubbornness, the Louisiana landscape, and, of course, the references to crosses. As usual, Burke takes readers deep inside his protagonist’s heart to show how one man deals with the world’s evils, and it’s the lyrical writing and palpable scenes that make that possible. Some tangled subplots and a weak rendering of women (including Robicheaux’s daughter) barely detract. If you believe "that beauty and horror go hand in hand," notes the Washington Post, Burke "can touch you in ways few writers can." Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
  Hans.Michel | Sep 13, 2013 |
Crusader's Cross by James Lee Burke-It was back in the innocent days of the 50's when Robicheaux and his brother, Jimmie, met Ida Durbin on a Galveston beach storm, not knowing she was a prostitute with ties to the mob, she was abducted and never seen again, Jimmie fell for her hard. Now, decades later Dave is asking questions about Ida and is soon involved with the Chalon's family but with the murderous energies of the New Orleans underworld. ( )
  Gatorhater | Jun 26, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
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For Linda and Roger Grainger
First words
It was the end of an era, one that I suspect historians may look upon as the last decade of American innocence.
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"I also decided I did not want to be held hostage by what I considered the self-imposed victimhood of others."
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Danish title (2006): Korsfarers kors; Norwegian title (2006): Jerusalemkorset
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A woman named Ida Durbin saves Dave and Jimmy Robicheaux when they become stranded after swimming in shark infested waters.
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