The New Iberia Blues

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

This is the second book in the James Lee Burke series that I have read, and I enjoyed the appreciation of the Louisiana culture and environment.  I am a bit tired of the alcoholic police officer/detective role, but Burke writes so well he pulls it off. You can't help but grow attached to the main character as he strives against the violence and corruption inherent in the Louisiana legal system.
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James Lee Burke’s series featuring Detective Dave Robicheaux is now up to #22 – and since Burke has long been one of my husband’s all-time favorite authors and Robicheaux one of his favorite characters, I was happy to let him have first crack at the copy of The New Iberia  Blues I received from Simon & Schuster and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Admission: this review is based on my husband’s opinions (he likes Burke much more than I do, so this seems like a good thing!)

This novel brings back a character Robicheaux met on the streets of New Orleans twenty-five years ago, Desmond Cormier. Now a successful Hollywood Director, Cormier has maintained his connection with Southern Louisiana, owning an estate named Cyrpremort Point. Robicheaux and a young deputy are investigating the death of a young woman who is found crucified, wearing only a gold ankle chain, after disappearing from Cormier’s estate. 

Familiar characters including Dave’s buddy Clete Purcel and his daughter Alafair are there to help, and we also have another appearance by the deranged hitman, Chester “Smiley” Wimple, who tortures and kills people, occasionally acting for the Mob. As my husband puts it, Smiley is a “superhumanly effective” killer. Yikes.

Throughout the investigation into the mysterious death, there are several red herrings, along with mob money, arms dealing, and kidnapping. In one memorable chapter, we learn Smiley’s backstory which led to him becoming a “murderous savant,” (again, according to my husband). Another chapter that stood out was Alafair’s kidnapping, probably by one of Cormier’s group, although it didn’t seem entirely clear who was responsible. Clete and Dave head off to the bayou for the climactic battle scene, which resolves much of the mystery. But not all: do I foresee #23 in the series?

My husband found it well-written, as expected. He also enjoyed the repetition of familiar characters in the series. One thing he just doesn’t get with this series is why the rich and famous people meekly turn the other cheek over and over and over and continually take so much crap from Robicheaux. The things he does appreciate about the series in general and this title in particular include the beauty of the language used by Burke and the literary and historical allusions (to things including  Vietnam, the life of a reformed alcoholic, and the contrast between the incredible beauty and the grime and misery of Southern Louisiana). Four stars. (My husband would probably say five, but I just couldn’t handle it, so it is a four-star from me!)
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The past is always present in James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux novels, and no one is better than Burke at evoking the haunted landscape of southern Louisiana. The New Iberia Blues (Simon and Schuster, digital galley), the 22nd in the series, finds Dave, adopted daughter Alafair and old buddy Clete Purcell all in the orbit of Desmond Cormier, a local boy made good as a Hollywood film director. Dave suspects Cormier and his smarmy friend Antoine Butterworth know more than they're saying about the murder of pastor's daughter Lucinda Arceneaux, whose crucified corpse is found in the river near Cormier's estate. But then other bodies show up posed like Tarot card symbols, and the number of suspects escalates as well. Escaped Texas convict Hugo Tillinger is certifiably crazy, as is Chester "Smiley'' Wimple, returning from last year's Robicheaux, and it looks as if the mob is providing the money for Cormier's latest project. Both the director and widower Dave are attracted to new young deputy Bailey Ribbons, who seems to have wandered in from another book. Still, as digressive as the narrative seems, Burke unknots the tangled strands with practiced ease.
from On a Clear Day I Can Read Forever
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Been hanging out in the Delta with my friend Dave Robichaux.  I don’t know how old Dave actually is now (two hundred three or so?), but he’s still kicking butt, breaking hearts and doing his own yardwork at his peaceful Cajun cottage on the bayou.  No matter.  For the creator of this all-time great detective series, I’ll willingly suspend any disbelief.  The man is a writer.  He can tell a story and write up a storm.

You do know James Lee Burke, don’t you?   If you don’t or you think he’s mass market dross ‘cause he’s on every drugstore rack, get over it and get on with it.  If you’re a returning devotee like me, New Iberia Blues is a good place to jump back in.  If you’re a devotee-to-be, start here or anywhere, or, if you want, go back to where it all began with The Neon Rain.  You will, anyway.   Feel the soft bayou breezes through the window screen, fluttering the curtains just before the storm.

Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided to me by Simon & Schuster via NetGalley. I would like to thank the publisher and the author for providing me this opportunity. All opinions expressed herein are my own.
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Published by Simon & Schuster on January 8, 2019

“There are moments when you realize that our greatest vanity lies in the belief that we have control of our lives and that reason holds sway in human affairs.” Dave Robicheaux is prone to moments of darkness, an understandable reaction to the miseries he has faced. In The New Iberia Blues, his moments tend to be darker than we have seen in most Robicheaux novels, potentially imperiling his relationship with his daughter and everyone else he cares about. He is feeling his mortality and catching glimpses of whatever lies beyond. Yet he still retains the ability to notice “the leaves blowing along the sidewalks, the flowers blooming in the gardens, the massive live oaks spangled with light and shadow, all of these gifts set in juxtaposition to the violence and cruelty that had fallen upon us like a scourge.”

Dave finds a dead woman’s body nailed to a cross floating in the ocean, visible from the home of a Hollywood director Dave has known since they were both growing up in Louisiana. He wonders whether the director, Desmond Cormier, has anything to do with the woman’s death. Other suspects include a producer with a shady past who is staying with Cormier and another producer who is hanging out with Dave’s daughter.

More murders ensue. They might or might not have been committed by the same killer but they all seem to relate to tarot cards. Dave and the reader are tasked with deciding whether and how the killings are connected.

Dave’s newest partner, Bailey Ribbons, is smart and attractive, which in Dave’s world makes her a target for all the people who have an axe to grind with Dave. Chester Wimple, who smiled as he killed a bunch of people in the last Robicheaux novel, returns in this one. He’s one of James Lee Burke’s creepiest creations.

The New Iberia Blues includes a dead-on description of the Southern white trash who “glory in violence and cruelty and brag on their ignorance, and would have no problem manning the ovens at Auschwitz.” Race is not directly related to the crimes Dave Robicheaux investigates in The New Iberia Blues, but as one of the characters notes, everything in Louisiana is about race. Burke doesn’t back away from that ugly reality.

The novel also showcases the resentment that some people feel about “Hollywood types” who don’t share their narrow values, as well as the lack of sensitivity that Hollywood types have toward people who have less money and education and opportunity than society’s more privileged members. Robicheaux has examined what America has become and knows that it is pointless to “argue with those who are proud of their membership in the Herd,” but he also takes the time to understand why the herd mentality has become so prevalent.

Burke writes beautifully about the environmental and cultural devastation inflicted on Louisiana by industry and seedy politicians to the detriment of Cajuns and blacks and all of the state residents who live in poverty. He writes with dismay about the horror of war and “those people who love wars as long as they don’t have to participate in one.” He writes even more beautifully about the personal turmoil that afflicts Robicheaux and Purcell and even a psychopath like Wimple. When Robicheaux’s daughter tells him that he feels guilty about everything he loves, she nails a common problem — the inability to love without guilt.

Tension mounts as lurking threats give way to imminent danger in the novel’s last act. Burke provides several good suspects and a variety of motives for the multiple homicides. Trying to affix guilt or to maintain trust is as difficult for the reader as it is for Robicheaux and Purcell. The ending is just fantastic. And while the novel is very dark, Burke always reminds the reader that no matter how small a glimmer of hope might be, it can never be extinguished.

RECOMMENDED
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Quite the apotheosis of detective Dave Robicheaux’s career.  Once again we have a twisted man committing murders in the New Iberia area of Louisiana, and Dave has to ride herd on his internal demons to succeed in catching him.  In this case a social worker who helps inmates on Death Row pursue justice is found dead in the sea crucified on a cross.  

After so many books Dave has become of living figure for the reader, from his poor Cajun roots, his terrible experience in Vietnam, and long struggle against alcoholism and violent rages against the corrupt and abusers of the defenseless, and now middle-aged and more and more subject to experiences with ghosts and spiritual mysteries.  As always, his mind takes constant refuge in the beauty and poetry of the natural world around him in and around Bayou Teche.  His buddy from New Orleans police days, Clete Purcell, not a bail bondsman, helps as usual in figuring out the source of evil behind what turns out to be a series of murders.  Dave’s new female partner contributes insights that the murders all are staged from versions of Tarot cards.  It is unclear whether this means the perp is mentally disturbed or makes use of the staging to hide other more mundane motives like financial gains and corruption linked to organized crime.

This could be a good dose of Burke’s masterful storytelling for those trying him for the first time.  For me, my pleasure was marred by a sense of excess.  There were too many suspects and too many murders before significant progress was made.  Having his grown daughter Alafair, a lawyer and movie script writer, become a target for the bad guy and require desperate efforts to save her felt like a bit of a cliché.
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“[real evil] may be a disembodied presence floating from place to place, seeking to drop its tentacles into whatever host it can find.”  I’ve read a few of the books featuring Dave Robicheaux and have liked each of them. There is a certain sameness to them, and you either like the author’s elegant, somewhat flowery, language or you don’t. I happen to like it a lot, however I think that some of his non-Robicheaux books are even better, like “Wayfaring Stranger”. 

In this book, which can be read as a standalone, Robicheaux and his private investigator friend Clete try to solve several murders involving the Aryan Brotherhood, prostitutes, tarot cards, money laundering, an escaped convict, more than one avenger and the movie business. He is working with a new and inexperienced partner, the beautiful Bailey Ribbons, who has a past that doesn’t scream “police officer”.  There is also an ex-mercenary: “He reminded me of other mercenaries I had known. At heart they were secular Calvinists and believed their fellow man was born in a degraded state; consequently, they oversaw atrocities with equanimity and substituted pragmatism for compassion and slept the sleep of the dead.”  And a dirty cop:  “Unless you are familiar with the nature of Southern white trash, you will not understand the following: they are a genetically produced breed whose commonality is the state of mind and not related to the social class to which they belong. Economics has nothing to do with their origins or their behavior. You cannot change them. They glory in violence and cruelty and brag on their ignorance, and would have no problem manning the ovens at Auschwitz.” One of my favorite characters was Smiley, a diminutive killer who looks like “an albino caterpillar that glows in the dark” and follows his own code of conduct guided by Wonder Woman. 

I thought this book was a little too long, but I will certainly read more of the series.  Will Patton’s narration of the audio book is perfection as always.  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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New Iberia Blues is another great southern police procedural from James Lee Burke.

The crucifixion death of a woman leads Detective Dave Robicheaux to a Hollywood director in town to make a movie. What follows is a slam-bam thriller.

While New Iberia Blues is not the best book in the series, the author is such a skilled writer that it is still better than many books out there. This is book 22 but surprisingly can be read as a standalone though I recommend reading a least a couple of the older books to get some background on Dave. This book rates 4 stars!

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I've been hearing about James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series for years but never got around to reading any of them until now. Completely ignoring the advice I frequently give to others about starting a series with the first book (The New Iberia Blues is #22).

A quick rundown of the basics: Desmond Cormier, a local boy from humble beginnings, returns home as a hotshot film director with a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination. He is making a movie on location that many believe will be a masterpiece.  To say that Desmond and some of his associates are eccentric is something along the lines of saying that the ocean is wet. 

A series of strange murders that seem to be inspired by the cards of a Tarot deck begin to occur; are they connected to the strange movie people? Maybe, maybe not. Why were those particular victims chosen? Nobody really knows. And where does the religious fanatic who recently escaped from Death Row fit in?  What about the bizarre looking hitman who seems more child than adult who is roaming around in the shadows?  The former mercenaries who are now movie producers (How does that even happen)? And what on Earth is the strange obsession with the film My Darling Clementine all about?

Adding to the plot - with varying degrees of importance - are possible arms deals... A Russian connection (maybe)... A mafia connection (again, maybe)... A new 28-year old partner/possible love interest... A tragic blues singer... Dirty cops... and Dave's former partner  a hard drinking private investigator named Clete Purcel.

I am not exaggerating when I say the whole thing becomes more twisted and confused than a ball of worms in a tin can! 

The writing style seems rambling and unfocused with strained metaphors and similes that don't quite work. The attempts to invoke mysticism or cryptic revelations often come off as muddled and overwrought. I found the flashbacks confusing, written in such a way as to make it difficult to decipher what was "real" versus what was a vision or hallucination (Pretty sure that was intentional on the part of the author but it was still a bit confusing and repeatedly took me out of the story). Everyone talks as though they have a degree in psychology... Okay, not everyone but too many to be believable. 

And, while I'm on the subject of believability, Robicheaux mentions having graduated from the University of Louisiana in 1960 and there is a reference to the Las Vegas shooting in 2017 so that would place the story in more-or-less current time. That means this rough and tumble cop who takes names and kicks butt is well into his 70s!!! I'd like to be in that kind of shape when  I'm in my 70s (doubtful - I'm not even in that kind of shape now).

So, now that I've gone on about all the things I didn't like about this book here's the kicker... I could not put the damn thing down! 

Seriously, every time some passage would make me stop and shake my head in disbelief my next thought would be "Now where is this thing going?" I couldn't wait to see how it all tied together. Honestly, some of it didn't. There were several false leads and subplots that never really amounted to much but it was still a thrill following them to their respective dead ends. 

It was a unique reading experience. I will definitely seek out earlier entries in this series. 

***Thanks to NetGalley,the publisher, and the author for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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The New Iberia Blues
James Lee Burke
Simon and Schuster 
published  date 1/8/19

4/5 stars  ☆☆☆☆

Summary:
Robicheaux knocks on Cormier’s door, it isn’t to congratulate him on his Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. Robicheaux has discovered the body of a young woman who’s been crucified, wearing only a small chain on her ankle. She disappeared near Cormier’s Cyrpemort Point estate, and Robicheaux, along with young deputy, Sean McClain, are looking for answers. Neither Cormier nor his enigmatic actor friend Antoine Butterworth are saying much, but Robicheaux knows better.

I had heard rave reviews about this series of  mysteries, and short story writers quote his prose as perfection . I found myself rereading sections for the mere beauty of the words: his description of water, the luminosity of the sky,  The ending is movie set actiin ready, I felt for his flashbacks worthy of a veteran, those who suffer from PTSD will feel a kinship with the author that is authentic. As this was my first Robicheaux novel I was not lost , I felt like I had been reading since book one a reader could easily pick up the series anywhere. The Louisiana bayou was depicted well, and I had no idea Alafair is his daughter in real life's name..and plug...at the end: she wrote the book "The Wife" ..can't wait to go out and read and see if like father like  daughter!  The biggest thumbs up was the "character "Smiley" , his determination even after speaking with the angels "who had come to take him home " to kill Wexler was an A+ scene, even then I had no idea what was ahead, the ending was complete surprise.  A must read for January, thanks #Netgalley and #simonschuster for my advanced copy for my honest review
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This book has ‘swansong’ stamped all the way through it. The latest in a long line of literary crime novels in the Dave Robicheaux series, The New Iberia Blues reads like the author’s valedictory address. It’s an extended farewell to old Louisiana, as the landmass slowly disintegrates into the ocean and the subtle shades of the French/Cajun culture of the Deep South are overwhelmed by the harsh realities of the modern world.

In parallel, detective Robicheaux is an olde-worlde archaism, a flawed but honourably intentioned throwback to the mid-20th century. This is Robicheaux’s ‘do not go gently into that good night’ moment, when the weight of all his personal history threatens to overwhelm the storyline.

James Lee Burke couldn’t write a bad book if he tried, and New Iberia Blues is saturated in his beautiful, lyrical imagery. It comes as close to prose-poetry as you’re likely to find in the crime genre, which means that many readers of fast-paced thrillers may find simply too elaborate to endure. But then, few people will start reading JLB with this book – and it’s hard to see how it could be rewarding unless you’re already a committed convert to the author’s meandering habit of incorporating American history, social justice, moral ambiguity, personal loyalty, the fight for sobriety and a raging white, middle-class guilt-trip into what is essentially a straightforward serial killer mystery.

It’s certainly not the best of the Robicheaux series although it contains all the essential touchstones: Dave’s bull-in-a-china-shop podna in crime, Clete Purcel; his over-protective relationship with adult daughter Alafair; haunting flashbacks to Vietnam; sheriff Helen Soileau doing her best to limit the fall-out from Dave’s self-destructive worst/best impulses… and the bayou itself, where live oaks are strewn with strands of Spanish moss and the silent spirits of the Confederate dead mingle with Dave’s own lost loved ones in the mist.

There’s also a terrific celebration of one of JLB’s finest creations, Smiley Wimple, a crazed but curiously moral contract killer who raises the game of every page he appears upon. Balancing the brilliance of Smiley’s appearance we have a poorly-rendered female love interest, a two-dimensional stand-in for the tough survivor. I struggled to understand why every person in Dave’s universe needs to carry the baggage of a brutalised childhood or other societal ills.

The ritual / tarot theme of the murders is intriguing, although it’s given little development and this connection to the killings is overwhelmed by tangled plot threads en route to the finale.

And indeed the ending is perhaps the weakest part of this story. It’s essentially an encore of many other Robicheaux misadventures. Perhaps that’s fitting, given that this feels like the last of the line, but it comes across as lazy storytelling, plain and simple. The final chapter did not, to me, seem to be Dave or JLB’s finest hour. That comes much earlier in the narrative, when Dave confronts the realisation that he is an old man, and that his time has passed.

This is an adequate conclusion, then, a nostalgic way of saying goodbye to much-loved characters and to JLB’s uniquely indulgent writing. But it’s not the best Robicheaux story by a long way, nor is it the right place to introduce yourself to JLB’s repertoire.

7/10
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3.5 stars

In this 22nd book in the 'Dave Robicheaux' series, the detective is after a brutal serial killer. The book can be read as a standalone, but familiarity with the characters is a plus.

*****

When people report hearing screams on the bayou near Cypremort Point in New Iberia, Louisiana, Sheriff's Detective Dave Robicheaux and Deputy Sean McClain drive over to investigate. One of the homes in the area belongs to award-winning Hollywood director Desmond Cormier - who's in town to film a movie - and the detectives go there first.....to see if he heard anything.

Dave knew Desmond a quarter century ago, when the director was a poor New Orleans schoolboy with big dreams - and the filmmaker invites the detectives into his home. On Desmond's patio they meet Antoine Butterworth, an arrogant Hollywood tagalong who's exercising in the near nude.

Dave takes an instant dislike to Antoine, who he considers a sociopath and pervert, and Dave's opinion of Desmond drops a few notches as well. These feelings get even stronger when Dave spots a body in the bayou, and Desmond and Antoine claim to see nothing.

The corpse, secured to a large wooden cross, turns out to be Lucinda Arceneaux - a preacher's daughter who helps get wrongly convicted men out of prison. Lucinda's death is followed by a series of vicious murders, each one connected to an abstruse symbol from the tarot.

The main suspect for the crimes is Hugo Tillinger, a convicted killer who broke out of a Texas prison. Hugo had been in contact with Lucinda.....and was recently seen in New Iberia by Dave's friend Clete Purcel. Hugo thinks the 'movie people' will prove his innocence and make a documentary film about him.

Hugo isn't the only suspect however. Other possible killers considered by Dave and his boss Sheriff Helen Soileau are: a weird little assassin named Chester ("Smiley") Wimple - who looks like a huge maggot with red lips; the financiers of Desmond's movie - New Jersey mafiosos, Miami drug dealers, and Middle-Eastern oil sheiks; and people on the film crew.

While Dave is investigating the killings he has a personal crisis brought on by the ugliness of the crimes; his life as a lonely widower; horrible memories of the Viet Nam War; and the despoliation of southern Louisiana - which has been ruined by greedy developers and corrupt politicians.

Dave is also at odds with his daughter Alafair, a law school graduate who writes novels and screenplays. Alafair is working on Desmond's movie and hanging out with Lou Wexler - a handsome, well-built producer much older than herself. Dave thinks all Hollywood people are bottom feeders and has an especially bad feeling about Wexler, who drives a red Lamborghini and flies in private planes. Moreover, Dave disapproves of the age difference between Alafair and the producer.

All this turmoil ALMOST drives Dave - a recovering alcoholic - back to the bottle. Dave has a few terrible weeks during which he obsesses constantly; hangs out at a blues bar frequented by hookers; experiences dry drunks, and does things he shouldn't.

Dave's attitude about Alafair and Wexler is ironic since Dave himself is infatuated with his new partner Bailey Ribbons - a pretty woman at least 30 years his junior. Dave tries to play it cool, but Bailey insists 'age isn't important' and practically throws herself at him. This is what I call 'male fantasy writing' and I wish James Lee Burke had left it out. 😒

Dave and his fellow cops continue to pursue the perp, sometimes with the help of Clete Purcel - who's quick with his fists and his guns. Of course the killer is eventually identified and the motive revealed, but it doesn't ring true to me, and the connection with the tarot is especially obscure.

The book has a variety of memorable characters, including: a poor black prostitute whose pimp is a dirty cop; a black blues singer with a small child; corrupt deputies in the Sheriff's Department (Why oh why does Helen keep hiring these people? 🤕); a Miami hitman; Dave's pets Mon Tee Coon (a raccoon) and Snuggs (a cat); and more.

As always in this series, the author's atmospheric depiction of southern Louisiana - the flora, fauna, swamps, tides, sunrises, sunsets, clouds, rain, food, and so on - is superb.....and I felt like I could see and smell the region. (I actually went to school there; shout out to Cajun restaurants. 😊💕)

The plot of the book is engaging, but is almost overshadowed by Dave's continuous introspection and poor behavior. I hope Dave gets over himself in future books. Still, James Lee Burke is one of America's best mystery writers (IMO) and his novels are always worth reading.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author (James Lee Burke) and the publisher (Simon and Schuster) for a copy of the book.
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Dave Robucheaux is feeling his age. He feels it in his muscles and bones and in his soul, which is spinning itself out toward – well, what? His parents and wives call out to him from the valley of death, and the recurring glory of the earth suggests that perhaps humans are a blight.

A series of brutal and ritualistic killings in New Iberia are the pivot of this book, but they do not seem to be the center.

"The New Iberia Blues" is beautifully written but it long and the murder investigation does not go anywhere. The cast of possible murderers is so small I kept looking at the page count to see if we were getting toward the wrap-up. The insertion of a subplot about Smiley the hit man, while interesting enough I supposed, seemed more like padding.

Dave's not at the end of his road yet, but his world is dissolving and the music of the spheres is getting louder.

I received a review copy of "The New Iberia Blues: A Dave Robicheaux Novel" by James Lee Burke
(Simon & Schuster) through NetGalley.com.
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THE NEW IBERIA BLUES: A Dave Robicheaux Novel
James Lee Burke
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 978-1-5011-7687-6
Hardcover
Fiction

So it is that THE NEW IBERIA BLUES, one of the first books to be published in the opening days of 2019 will undoubtedly at the end of the calendar tunnel be considered one of its best. That might seem like a tall prophecy to fulfill until one considers that THE NEW IBERIA BLUES is written by James Lee Burke. Burke, into his sixth decade of writing, continues to present some of his best work with each new novel. That would be a remarkable achievement all by itself but does not quite fully describe what Burke has done here, which is to bring his considerable plotting, descriptive, and characterization chops (which are always always at a fine and sharp edge) to full power from beginning to end, slicing through and between genres --- mystery, romantic, and thriller --- and ultimately rendering such classifications immaterial.

THE NEW IBERIA BLUES is arguably one of Burke’s most complex (though not complicated) works to date. The tale snakes smoothly through the past and present of David Robicheaux, Burke’s troubled but upright protagonist, whose personality and character have been developed by Burke over the course of twenty-two books. For Robicheaux, a detective with the New Iberia, Louisiana police, the tale begins on a fateful morning where he responds to some vague and somewhat contradictory 911 calls concerning a woman possibly in distress on Cypremort Point on Louisiana’s Vermilion Bay. Cormier and Robicheaux are anything but strangers. Robicheaux first met Cormier when Cormier was a young and struggling amateur artist on Jackson Square in New Orleans and Robicheaux was a foot patrolman. Cormier shared his dream of being a Hollywood filmmaker with Robicheaux back in the day, and Cormier has fulfilled that seemingly unattainable goal, and then some.  As it happens, the distress calls center upon the stilt house which Cormier maintains on Cypremont Point. When Robicheaux and a young deputy named Sean McClain arrive on the scene, they find Cormier in attendance with his friend, a somewhat unsettling individual named Antoine Butterworth. All seems in order until Robicheaux’s reconnaissance of the area results in the discovery of the body of a young woman who appears to have been ritualistically executed. In the weeks that follow, she will not be the last. Robicheaux investigates the chain of crimes with a newly minted deputy named Bailey Ribbons, a twenty-eight-year-old who is making the transition from a middle school teacher to a law enforcement officer. While the two of them make for an almost perfect professional pairing, the thrice-widowed Robicheaux is aware of the almost instant physical attraction between them as well, one which Ribbons welcomes, even as Robicheaux finds their age difference to be an all-but-insurmountable chasm. Meanwhile, their investigation does not lack for suspects, one of whom manages to insinuate himself into Robicheaux’s own household. Everyone, it seems, has a secret or two which connects to the series of murders, whether in the past or present, and when a prior nemesis of Robicheaux’s --- one of Burke’s most intriguing antagonists --- makes an appearance seemingly from beyond the grave, it creates an obstacle that is by turns almost impossible to overcome and almost certainly deadly for all concerned. Clete Purcel is on hand to help, as always, as is Robicheaux’s daughter Alafair, but this time their combined efforts may not be enough and may in fact make things worse. The conclusion to this story --- one of Burke’s finest --- is as poignant as you are likely to read in this or any year, even as mercy is given and justice is done. 

About that ending...let me say that when Purcel, as is his wont, affectionally addresses Robicheaux as “noble mon” he is not saying it as an empty term of endearment. It is, in Burke’s strong but gentle hands, as accurate a description of someone as you are likely to encounter. Of perhaps equal significance is that the classic film My Darling Clementine is also frequently referenced during the course of THE NEW IBERIA BLUES, with the latter not so much paying tribute to the former as using it as a palimpsest of sorts while standing firmly and equally on its own. I assure you as a result that it doesn’t get any better than THE NEW IBERIA BLUES until, at least, Burke’s next novel. Highest possible recommendation. 

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
© Copyright 2019, The Book Report, Inc. All rights reserved.
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What I loved with The New Iberia Blues (besides the great characters and the setting of New Orleans) is the fact that I easily felt right at home, despite never having read a previous book in the series. And, this is the 22nd book in the series. So, I'm VERY late to the party. Now, I have wanted for a long time to read any of James Lee Burke's books and I'm absolutely thrilled to have finally gotten to it and also that I found the books so bloody good. 

I do recognize the fact that I, as a new reader, have missed a lot of previous events. Dave Robicheaux has lived a very eventful life. In some way, as I write this book does he remind me of Walt Longmire, from the Craig Johanson series. Could be the tortured soul thing, and the widower status. And that both have experienced war. And, since I'm a BIG fan of the Longmire series is this only a plus.

As for the story. It takes a long time before the case makes sense before they finally connect the dots and that's just the way I like it. I love cases that are not easily solved. And, this one, well what connects the victims? I have to admit that I was not sure who was behind it until it was revealed.  

The New Iberia Blues is an excellent crime novel and I'm happy to have so many unread Dave Robicheaux to find and read.
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Dave Robicheaux has been a cop in Louisiana for years, since some time after his return from the jungles of Vietnam. Crete Purcel has shared much of his life’s journey from Vietnam to the present, some of it dealing with the dregs of humanity and those they injure. Both men have been deeply scarred but retain a belief in Good.

As are many of Burke’s novels, The New Iberia Blues is a story of dualities: good and evil, light and dark, nobility and cupidity, natural beauty and deformed ugliness, knowledge and ignorance. Characters often display these dualities within their own behavior. Robicheaux himself is the best example of a man fighting within himself, constantly at odds with his demons as he works to help others. Here his work is to solve horrific killings that appear related but with no clear motives.

While the killings are brutal, Burke ties everything into the amazing place which is southern coastal Louisiana. His descriptions of the land and natural environment are often gorgeous, sometimes heartbreaking in their implications for the future. Louisiana itself seems a massive duality. Lush landscapes, polluted gulf, environmental degradation mirroring depredations of man. But the deep poverty has allowed predators in, i.e. casinos on the river.

Dave Robicheaux is an older man in this novel, a man feeling his mortality as he tries to do the best he can for family, friends, fellow cops and the public that needs his services. Burke’s prose continues among the best in this genre, and probably most others. He is able to capture and express all of the nuances of the land, human behavior.

As I have been writing this review, which I acknowledge is very general as you can find more plot details elsewhere, I realize that I should increase my rating from 4 to 5*. The overall effect is 5.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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If you love James Lee Burke, and you love Dave Robicheaux and company, you will love The New Iberia Blues. As good as the last book in the series, Robicheaux, and in some ways better. TNIB is a welcome addition to the canon of work of Burke. His books never get old, mainly because of the writing. Burke is a master of language and mood. His characters breathe and bleed and are entirely human. 
What's not to love?
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James Lee Burke has done it again.  In his masterful hands a police procedural becomes a treatise on modern America without ever being slow, boring or preachy.  Set in the bayous of southern Louisiana, Detective Dave Robicheaux fights the good fight, while also dealing with personal problems such as the deaths of his wives, and flashbacks to his time as a soldier in Viet Nam.  This is the twenty-second book, and Dave is older, perhaps a little wiser, but just as ruminative about what he sees in the society around him.

I don’t like spoilers, so I am not going to give any.  Be assured though that this book is full of interesting, and sometimes scary characters; that like all of the Robicheaux books it has its dark aspects, and that Clete Purcell, Dave’s old partner from when they were both police officers in New Orleans has his part to play.  I have often thought that Clete is who Robicheaux might have been without his religious sense and discipline, and if he had not had the great good luck to be loved by some special women.

As always, southern Louisiana, raped, despoiled and degraded, is an overarching character in this book.  The reader can feel Burke’s pain at what has been done to his birth state, and the sympathy which he has for those who are trying to live good lives there.  He pulls no punches, and makes no excuses.  In the person of Dave Robicheaux we see an avatar of ourselves, without it ever costing Robicheaux’s flawed but valiant humanity.  This book, as with all of the others in the series, is well worth reading on a number of levels, and I highly recommend it.
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The New Iberia Blues, the twenty-second novel in the long-running, critically acclaimed Detective Robicheaux mystery series, is a compelling, immersive and gripping reading experience and fun, fast and fabulous. Having come across it on a number of "best crime novels of January" lists, I was exceptionally excited, and boy did it turn out to be a great choice for the opening week of 2019! Although the premise is one that has been recycled a million times over, Burke seems particularly adept at luring you in with intriguing characters, an action-packed plot and an expertly judged pace and keeping you in that vice until the last line has been devoured.

One of the many outstanding features of this story, and the one that illustrates just how powerful and visual Burke's writing is, is the immaculate sense of time and place he portrays. I was transported to the places described, saw the things the characters saw and smelled exactly what they did. It was all so vivid and the details so captivating that I found it almost impossible to put the book down and rumbled through it in a single,  memorable sitting. Given that this series first began in 1987 with The Neon Rain, you'll be pleased to know that each instalment works perfectly well on its own. Add to all of this a good dose of humour and you've got a book well worth investing some time in. 

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for an ARC.
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The New Iberia Blues by James Lee Burke shines with beautiful prose. This is a tale about a search for a possible serial killer in the bayous of Louisiana. Dave Robicheaux is the detective leading the investigation of people from the backwoods, Hollywood types, the mafia etc. This novel did not do it for me. I have quit after 200 pages, which is something I have a lot of trouble doing. The author has written many books about Detective Dave Robicheaux and this was only my second. I found that there were too many characters, which slowed down the action considerably. This is only my opinion. James Lee Burke is a much praised and popular author. Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.
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