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Swan Peak by James Lee Burke
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Swan Peak (2008)

by James Lee Burke

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
enjoyable and atmospheric as always, here the forests and backwaters rather than New Orleans and Louisiana. I found the lot a bit muddled though ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
I am not new to the Dave Robicheaux novels, but it has been a long time since I read one. Burke is one of those authors whose work has gotten a bit too violent and downright gratuitously bloody for me, so I hesitated before I picked this book up. However, I was driving cross country to Montana, and decided that I would give it a try. I found the descriptions of the country wonderful, and to my surprise found this novel to be one in which the good guys were good guys and the bad guys, well bad guys. There were characters who interested me, and made me care about them. In fact there were a whole raft of them, plus many of them started out bad, and then redeemed themselves. In fact I liked them so much that I cheered out loud for them. It was a good thing that I was alone in the car. There wasn't overt descriptions of violent horrible torture and death, but the novel was still edgy. That is a delicate balance for an author to keep and Burke did it well in this novel. In fact, this novel redeemed Burke for me and moved him back into my radar sights as a mystery author that I wouldn't mind reading in the future. What kept this from being an outstanding mystery, with a higher rating, was that the mystery part of the novel was rather mundane. What kept my interest were the wonderful characters and their moral development during the course of the novel. ( )
  benitastrnad | Aug 11, 2015 |
Burke has just gotten too creepy and violent for me. EXCELLENT writer -- truly superb. A sad loss to my stand-by list of always read authors. ( )
  mrb46 | Jun 19, 2014 |
This book was really beautifully written... gorgeous prose.

However, I just couldn't connect with the characters or get into the story. It seems like these characters have several books with them, so I might one day find them in chronological order and see if I can develop more of an attachment to them. As I said, it was a beautifully written story. I just picked it up at random on the library shelf. ( )
  wispywillow | Sep 21, 2013 |
A few spoilers below!

Blurb........Detective Dave Robicheaux returns in another adventure. Only this time, he travels from New Iberia Parish to the wilds of Montana. Swan Peak is the sequel to Black Cherry Blues, the third title in the Robicheaux series. In it, Clete Purcel has to confront ghosts from his past, namely the fact he poured sand in the fuel tanks of an airplane owned by Sally Dio, resulting supposedly in Dio's death. The story also deals with Jimmy Dale Greenwood, an escaped convict who was at one time a fairly famous country singer. His lover is Jamie Sue Wellstone, now the wife of one of the richest men in the West.

The larger story deals with country music, the use of fraudulent ministries to garner support for nefarious political enterprises, and two brothers who are the sons of the most famous wildcatter in Texas oil history. Perhaps the most striking character, however, is an ex-Miami roller derby queen by the name of Candace Sweeney. Her lover is a Texas gunbull who was a guard at Abu Ghraib Prison.

Few authors can tell a story quite like James Lee Burke. He deftly combines intricate, engaging plotlines and original, compelling characters with his uniquely graceful prose. Burke transcends genre yet again in his latest thrilling addition to the Robicheaux series.

I first discovered James Lee Burke in the early 90’s when I came across The Neon Rain, Heaven’s Prisoners and Black Cherry Blues. He absolutely blew me away with the quality of his writing, and his double act of recovering alcoholic Dave Robicheaux and colourful sidekick Clete Purcell.

His full bibliography is as follows;

Hackberry Holland
1. Lay Down My Sword and Shield (1971)
2. Rain Gods (2009)
3. Feast Day of Fools (2011)

Robicheaux
1. The Neon Rain (1987)
2. Heaven's Prisoners (1988)
3. Black Cherry Blues (1989)
4. A Morning for Flamingos (1990)
5. A Stained White Radiance (1992)
6. In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead (1993)
7. Dixie City Jam (1994)
8. Burning Angel (1995)
9. Cadillac Jukebox (1995)
10. Sunset Limited (1998)
11. Purple Cane Road (2000)
12. Jolie Blon's Bounce (2002)
13. Last Car to Elysian Fields (2003)
14. Crusader's Cross (2005)
15. Pegasus Descending (2006)
16. The Tin Roof Blowdown (2007)
17. Swan Peak (2008)
18. The Glass Rainbow (2010)
19. Creole Belle (2012)

Billy Bob Holland
1. Cimarron Rose (1997)
2. Heartwood (1999)
3. Bitterroot (2001)
4. In The Moon of Red Ponies (2004)

Novels
Half of Paradise (1965)
To The Bright and Shining Sun (1970)
Two for Texas (1982)
aka Sabine Spring
The Lost Get Back Boogie (1986)
White Doves at Morning (2002)

Collections
The Convict: And Other Stories (1985)
Jesus Out to Sea (2007)

Since then I’ve fallen in and out of love with the three of them several times in the last 20 years. Does the quality of the man’s prose outweigh the sheer improbability that after 20 years the self-proclaimed Bobbsey Twins would still be busting heads and taking down the bad guys?

Dave and his constant quest for justice, whilst battling his demons and attempting to keep a reign on Clete has just got tiresome for this reader. JLB’s books seem to have an underlying narrative that rich people and big business are invariably bad, evil and corrupt, which may be true occasionally, but which after the best part of 30-odd books becomes stale and repetiticious.

In Swan Peak the quality of the writing is as good as ever, with convincingly written flashpoints and lyrical depictions of the Montana countryside.

The downside for me was, after the predictability of the outcome which is fairly inevitable, that the plot was implausible. With over 147,000 square miles of Montana countryside to vacation and fish in, the dynamic duo happen to pitch up in the same neck of the woods as Sally Dio? Unlikely! Vindictive, sociopath Dio gives Purcell a free pass for years until such time as they cross paths? Unbelievable.

Most of the time, I read crime fiction for entertainment, and in truth I was entertained. Most times when following a series with a strong lead character there appears to be a formula to the writing which is often tolerable, but I think I’m done with JLB now though. I think this series has gone on for a few too many books now and though the author is no guiltier of milking this particular cash-cow than many others in the genre, I’m off to pastures new.

This copy was acquired second-hand from Oxfam books in Leighton Buzzard.

3 from 5

http://col2910.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/james-lee-burke-swan-peak.html ( )
  col2910 | Aug 15, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Swan Peak is a deeply confused book, and so must its author be, realizing–even as he writes on autopilot–that his mouthpiece Robicheaux, occasionally even speaking in first person, is a violent sociopath, immune to human emotion, and totally detached from reality.
 
Despite the story’s length and complexity, Burke’s view of the world is more explicit than ever: noble intentions baffled by long-festering damage from war and alcoholism, and beneath it all the determination of the rich and powerful to keep their perks. ... Like all Dave’s adventures, a tale of violent conflict whose deepest violence boils inside the heroes.
added by Roycrofter | editKirkus Reviews (Jun 1, 2008)
 
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For our son, James L. Burke III, and his wife, Kara, and their son, James L. Burke IV
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Clete Purcel had heard of people who sleep without dreaming, but either because of the era and neighborhood in which he had grown up, or the later experiences that had come to define his life, he could not think of sleep as anything other than an uncontrolled descent into a basement where the gargoyles turned somersaults like circus midgets.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743571878, Audio CD)

Trouble follows Dave Robicheaux.

James Lee Burke's new novel finds Detective Robicheaux far from his New Iberia roots, attempting to relax in the untouched wilderness of rural Montana. He, his wife, and his buddy Clete Purcel have retreated to stay at an old friend's ranch, hoping to spend their days fishing and enjoying their distance from the harsh, gritty landscape of Louisiana post-Katrina.

But the serenity is quickly shattered when two college students are found brutally murdered in the hills behind where the Robicheauxs and Purcel are staying. Drawn into a twisted and dangerous mystery involving a wealthy, vicious oil tycoon, his deformed brother and beautiful wife, a sexually deviant minister, an escaped con and former country music star, and a vigilante Texas gunbull out for blood. At the center of the storm is Clete, who cannot shake the feeling that he is being haunted by ghosts from his past -- namely Sally Dio, the mob boss he'd sabotaged and killed years before.

In this expertly drawn, gripping story, Burke deftly weaves intricate, engaging plotlines and original, compelling characters with his uniquely graceful prose. He transcends genre yet again in the latest thrilling addition to his New York Times bestselling series.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:59 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Detective Dave Robicheaux returns in another adventure--only this time, he travels from New Iberia Parish to the wilds of Montana to solve the mysterious murder of a University of Montana coed and her boyfriend.

» see all 8 descriptions

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