Amazon (once again) helpfully informs me that I bought this over five years ago, on May 14, 2008. I need to start reading faster, I think.
But before I get into the book itself, let me share with you a brilliant idea.
I'm a big fan of the FX series Justified. It was originally based on an Elmore Leonard short story, and it follows US Marshal Raylan Givens as he is assigned back into the area in which he grew up, Appalachian Eastern Kentucky. He is surrounded by a fascinating bunch of family, co-workers, criminals, and assorted lowlifes. It's powered by some of the cleverest TV writing ever.
Well, let me tell you: they could do the same thing with James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux. Might be even better. Dave's a little more haunted by his past than is Raylan. But, other than that, there's the same rich stew of colorful characters, outrageous crimes, and a decent guy just trying to navigate the demands of justice, friendship, family, and his inner demons.
There have been two Robicheaux movies, both kind of duds. But an episodic TV series that plays out a novel-length plot over an entire season would work much better than trying to fit the same thing into 100 minutes.
Just sayin'. To potential producers of this goldmine: I don't need any compensation; just send me free DVD sets of the series as they come out.
Anyway: the events of this book are centered around 2005's Hurricane Katrina and its devastating effects on New Orleans. Dave is heartbroken by the toll on the area and its citizenry, outraged by governmental ineptitude and malfeasance. (Burke's prose mostly implicates Dubya's administration of course, and lets local authorities mostly skate. But this isn't a political tome.)
But in the midst of all that horror, the bad guys came out to play, with the usual tragic results. A junkie priest has gone missing while trying to rescue parishoners that mistakenly took refuge in a church about to be engulfed by floodwaters. An insurance agent is trying gamely to hold his family together, although his daughter is recovering poorly from the trauma of a savage crime. A "roving band of youths" coincidentally pick a house to loot that turns out to be chock full of cash and diamonds, but their escape is complicated by sniper fire from unknown persons. Soon a trademark Burke villain, a funny-looking creep is prowling around, menacing all concerned; worse, he takes a shine to Dave's grown daughter Alafair.
In short, it's another engrossing read from James Lee Burke.