From Publishers Weekly
In the sixth Dave Robicheaux mystery (following A Stained White Radiance ), Burke explores new narrative territory with qualified success, leading his Cajun detective into a series of dreamlike encounters with a troop of Confederate soldiers under Gen. John Bell Hood. Soon after the severely mutilated body of a young woman is found in a ditch outside the southern Louisiana town of New Iberia, deputy sheriff Robicheaux busts Elrod Sykes, star of a Hollywood movie being filmed nearby, for drunk driving. Sykes says a skeleton wrapped in chains was unearthed during filming in a marsh where, in 1957, Robicheaux witnessed--but remained silent about--the killing of a chained black man by two white men. As the belatedly guilt-stricken detective tries to identify that victim, another young woman is brutally killed. Then, Sykes's co-star is shot to death, perhaps having been mistaken for Robicheaux, who gradually connects the recent murders to Louisiana mob-kingpin Baby Feet Balboni, a key backer of the movie. With the help of FBI agent Rosie Gomez and the intermittent, often elliptical advice of the ghostly Gen. Hood, Robicheaux nails the psycho--but not before the man has kidnapped the detective's young daughter Alafair. Burke's evocative prose is well suited to the misty bayou scenes in which past and present mingle, but the links between the two eras are weak, and some of the contemporary characters lack definition. 75,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB selections; author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
New Iberia Lt. Dave Robicheaux (A Stained White Radiance, 1992, etc.) is trying to link the murder of a local hooker to New Orleans mobster Julie (Baby Feet) Balboni--back in his home parish as co- producer of Hollywood director Michael Goldman's Civil War film--when sozzled/psychic movie-star Elrod Sykes, pulled over for drunk driving, starts babbling about a corpse he found in the Atchafalaya Swamp--the corpse of a black man Dave had seen murdered 35 years before. Convinced that Baby Feet is the key to both the old murder and the horrific new serial killings of prostitutes, Dave goes outside the law to nail him over the protests of locals getting fat off Hollywood-and- mob money--provoking stunning new outbursts of violence, getting suspended after a shootout leaves still another prostitute dead, and finding himself holding hushed conversations with the specter of a Confederate general whom Sykes had already met deep in the bayou. Dave's visions of the Confederate dead bring a Faulknerian resonance to the miasmal guilt and self-doubt that enrich all his encounters with evil. After outstanding success in the genre, Burke has produced a violent, somber, deeply satisfying crossover novel. (First printing of 75,000) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.