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Purple Cane Road by James Lee Burke

Purple Cane Road (original 2000; edition 2000)

by James Lee Burke

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1,057127,948 (3.93)18
Title:Purple Cane Road
Authors:James Lee Burke
Info:Doubleday (2000), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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Purple Cane Road by James Lee Burke (2000)



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The book does a la la the bayou and la la cyprus and la la the other plants and la la the sunset to lull readers lyrical with the serenity of the southern Louisiana swamps. Then Burke hits you--with unforgiving, brutal, gotta-do-it-cause-I'm-damaged violence that takes your breath.
Wife Bootsie and daughter are marginal in this buddy duet of killing, beating, punching, and some knifing centered around the ex-drunk, post-PTSD, still detective Robicheaux and his double, the what-Robicheaux-would-have -been-except-for-being saved-by-his-wifelet, the ex-cop, still drunk, bigger-than-any-scumbag, cadillac-prowling, gumshoe friend Clete.
Burke cannot push the series any farther without having the rage destroy Robicheaux. Maybe it already has. So I'm wondering what the next installment will do.
And yes the mosquito-infested bogs are beautiful in Burke's writing. Makes you want to go visit. ( )
  kerns222 | Aug 24, 2016 |
Burke, one of my favorite writers, has an extraordinary gift for the use of similes. He can evoke the atmosphere and scenery that sets him way above other writers in the mystery genre. Despite the brutality, violence and corruption, the story intrigues, and Burke continues to develop the character of Dave Robichaeux, ex- New Orleans cop and now homicide detective for the New Iberia Sheriff’s department. The integration of the past and its influence on the present is a recurring theme in Burke's books. Dave is trying to help Letty Labiche, a woman on death row for having murdered the man who had repeatedly molested her and her sister. That he was a cop meant the girls had little sympathy from the department. During his search for exculpatory evidence, Dave stumbles across Zipper Clum, a New Orleans lowlife who provides Dave with information that provideshim with leads related to the death of Dave's mother many years before. Dave, whose memories of his mother, Mae, are bittersweet, becomes obsessed with finding her murderers, cops in the pay of a local crime family, as it turns out. The investigation becomes messy, as the Labiche case becomes intertwined with his search for his mother's killers. Jim Gable, the political liaison in the governor's office with the New Orleans police department whom Dave has reason to dislike more than most, becomes implicated as does the attorney general, a woman Dave learns had connections with Labiche's parents. In the meantime, a hit man, Johnny Remeta, has taken a liking to Alifair, Dave's daughter. Johnny, too, is involved in the whole sordid mess that resolves into a climax revealing the truth of Mae's murder. Similes can often be overdone, in fact, a recent book I finished by Stuart Woods, Choke, eschewed them completely. Burke indulges in them quite successfully, and they bring a vividness to the ambiance that is quite startling; the scent of musty leaves, a fetid swamp and dank bar cascade the reader's senses. His latest book, [book:White Dove in the Morning], which I purchased and am reading as an e-book, takes place during the Civil War; historical fiction is not his usual milieu, but this is excellent.

( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Dave chases down his mother's killers. Story is set in Louisiana with typical Burke writing. ( )
  addunn3 | Feb 25, 2013 |
Great plot, great characters, as always Burke delivers a great read.

Back Cover Blurb:
When Detective Dave Robicheaux discovers disturbing secrets from his mother's past, he embarks on a journey through a murky world of vice, politics and murder.
Robicheaux has been told that his mother, Mae, was a hooker and ended her life drowned in a mud puddle by two cops working for the Mob. As Robicheaux and his partner hunt for the killers, they hook up with a door-to-door salesman turned state governor, a psychotic hit-man, and the owner of the mansion at Purple Cane Road - who knows rather too much about Robicheaux's wife...... ( )
  mazda502001 | Oct 20, 2011 |
I notice one of the blurbs on the book's jacket calls James Lee Burke "the Faulkner of crime fiction" and I couldn't agree more. With description as spare and terse as the notes in a police blotter Burke brings to life the haunting, corrupt beauty of southern Louisiana and the complex, morally compromised lives of the people who inhabit the borderlands between polite society and lawlessness, making a convincing argument that most of us dwell closer to the borderlands than we probably care to ackowledge. In the meantime, the plot races from one terse, heartbreaking setpiece to the next, making the story almost impossible to put down. I love how the author assumes his readers are clever enough to infer what is happening; I love how he never uses 10 ordinary words when 2 brilliant words (or a gorgeous simile, or a devastatingly quick flashback, often to the Vietnam War) will suffice; and I love how he challenges the reader to reflect upon what constitutes morality; but, most of all, I love becoming so vested in characters that they have the power to break my heart. By almost any definition, this is a work of literature disguised as crime fiction.
1 vote Dorritt | Jul 2, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Lee Burkeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Patton, WillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For old-time University of Missouri pals Harold Frisbee and Jerry Hood
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Years ago, in state documents, Vachel Carmouche was always referred to as the electrician, never as the executioner.
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Danish title (2001): Smertens vej; German title: Straße ins Nichts; Norwegian title (2006): Smertens vei
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440224047, Mass Market Paperback)

In New Iberia, Louisiana, memories are long and dangerous, and the past and present are seldom easy to untangle. Homicide investigator Dave Robicheaux is trying to help Letty Labiche, a New Iberia girl on death row for killing the man who molested her and her sister as children, when chance brings him to Zipper Clum, a pimp and pornographer who recognizes Robicheaux secondhand through a 30-year haze:
"Robicheaux, your mama's name was Mae.... Wait, it was Guillory before she married. That was the name she went by ... Mae Guillory. But she was your mama," he said.

"What?" I said.

He wet his lips uncertainly.

"She dealt cards and still hooked a little bit. Behind a club in Lafourche Parish. This was maybe 1966 or '67," he said.

Clete's eyes were fixed on my face. "You're in a dangerous area, sperm breath," he said to Zipper.

"They held her down in a mud puddle. They drowned her," Zipper said.

To Robicheaux, whose memories of the fun-loving Mae are few and bittersweet, the news comes like a bolt of lightning. Though she abandoned him to the uncertain mercies of a violent, alcoholic father, he loved her, and his desire to find her killers--cops in the pay of the Giacano crime family, according to Clum--is instantaneous and deeply felt. Unfortunately, Zipper Clum meets the wrong end of a .25 automatic soon after his electrifying announcement, but his conversation with his killer is recorded--and Mae Guillory's name comes up again.

The winding trail of evidence connected to both Letty Labiche and Mae Guillory leads Robicheaux almost immediately to Jim Gable, the New Orleans Police Department's liaison with city hall, whose position has afforded him a number of less-than-legal advantages. Gable also happens to be an ex-lover of Robicheaux's wife, Bootsie--formerly the widow of Ralph Giacano. From there the web of connections grows ever wider, and (not surprisingly) incriminates those in high places. These include the state attorney general, a woman who, if photographic evidence is to be trusted, was once friendly with the Labiches' parents, who were known procurers.

But if Purple Cane Road has its share of corrupt powermongers, it's also filled with beautifully rounded characters, like piano-playing governor Belmont Pugh and hit man Johnny Remeta, whose personality slowly begins to unravel as he gets closer to Robicheaux's daughter. The plot converges seamlessly to its climax--the true story of what happened to Mae Robicheaux--as James Lee Burke's trademark of uncompromising justice is brought to fruition. Like Burke's other Robicheaux novels, Purple Cane Road offers a solidly satisfying piece in the picture of a complex hero. --Barrie Trinkle

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:21 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Dave Robicheaux was just a boy when his mother ran out on him and his whiskey-driven father. Now Robicheaux is a man, still haunted by her desertion and her death. More than thirty-five years after Mae Guillory died, her son will go to any length to bring her killers to justice.… (more)

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