A Private Cathedral

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Wow, I really read quite a few books in the past couple weeks. It helps when you're sitting in airports and planes for extended periods.

I've been a longtime fan of James Lee Burke's novels featuring moody heroic sometimes-cop Dave Robicheaux. So this latest one was a must-read too. And even though James Lee is getting up there (specifically, he's 84) he still does not disappoint: this is another harrowing tale of Dave, with sidekick Clete Purcel, getting into deadlhy conflict with the worst folks Louisiana has to offer. The mean streets of LA, the city, have nothing to compare to the mean bayous of LA, the state.

Something about the Amazon blurb caught my eye: "After finding himself caught up in one of Louisiana’s oldest and bloodiest family rivalries, Detective Dave Robicheaux must battle the most terrifying adversary he has ever encountered: a time-traveling superhuman assassin."

Dude, what? Are we getting into Marvel Comics territory here? Not quite. Dave has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the supernatural, going back to at least In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead (1993).

The book is unusual in that it's explicitly set in Dave's past: in terms of wives, it's post-Bootsie, and pre-Molly. This gives him some additional latitude in dealing with a couple of ladies he encounters along the way. But he keeps his hands off young Miss Isolde Balangie, who belongs to one of those families mentioned in the blurb above. One night when listening to talented musician Johnny Shondell perform—Johnny belongs to that other family—Isolde walks up to Dave, claiming that she's being delivered by Johnny to his uncle, Mark Shondell.

Dave declines to get involved, disappointing Isolde. At first. But his crusading curiosity leads him into it, and pretty soon he and Clete are up to their necks. And get associated with that time-travelling superhuman assassin. Who turns out to be a troubled soul himself.