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Purple Cane Road (Dave Robicheaux Mysteries (Paperback)) Mass Market Paperback – May 8, 2001
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"Robicheaux, your mama's name was Mae.... Wait, it was Guillory before she married. That was the name she went by ... Mae Guillory. But she was your mama," he said.To Robicheaux, whose memories of the fun-loving Mae are few and bittersweet, the news comes like a bolt of lightning. Though she abandoned him to the uncertain mercies of a violent, alcoholic father, he loved her, and his desire to find her killers--cops in the pay of the Giacano crime family, according to Clum--is instantaneous and deeply felt. Unfortunately, Zipper Clum meets the wrong end of a .25 automatic soon after his electrifying announcement, but his conversation with his killer is recorded--and Mae Guillory's name comes up again.
"What?" I said.
He wet his lips uncertainly.
"She dealt cards and still hooked a little bit. Behind a club in Lafourche Parish. This was maybe 1966 or '67," he said.
Clete's eyes were fixed on my face. "You're in a dangerous area, sperm breath," he said to Zipper.
"They held her down in a mud puddle. They drowned her," Zipper said.
The winding trail of evidence connected to both Letty Labiche and Mae Guillory leads Robicheaux almost immediately to Jim Gable, the New Orleans Police Department's liaison with city hall, whose position has afforded him a number of less-than-legal advantages. Gable also happens to be an ex-lover of Robicheaux's wife, Bootsie--formerly the widow of Ralph Giacano. From there the web of connections grows ever wider, and (not surprisingly) incriminates those in high places. These include the state attorney general, a woman who, if photographic evidence is to be trusted, was once friendly with the Labiches' parents, who were known procurers.
But if Purple Cane Road has its share of corrupt powermongers, it's also filled with beautifully rounded characters, like piano-playing governor Belmont Pugh and hit man Johnny Remeta, whose personality slowly begins to unravel as he gets closer to Robicheaux's daughter. The plot converges seamlessly to its climax--the true story of what happened to Mae Robicheaux--as James Lee Burke's trademark of uncompromising justice is brought to fruition. Like Burke's other Robicheaux novels, Purple Cane Road offers a solidly satisfying piece in the picture of a complex hero. --Barrie Trinkle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
the beauty of Burke's writing is the carefully crafted gorgeous run on sentences (amazing in their delicacy of word choices) contrasted with the violence that spurts from his finely developed characters.
Purple Cane Road is the 17th (?) of his novels and almost perfect. (More on "almost" in a second). He brings to bear familiar characters (Bootsie, Batist, Alafair, Cletus Purcell, the Sherriff), but ties it to a core value of Burke's: family. Robicheaux, in the course of a typically brutal "investigation" by Clete, his best friend, hears that his mother was murdered by detectives from the New Orleans Police Department and that she was a hooker. While Robicheaux realizes that his mother was not a queen, he is shaken. A whore? Murdered? Murdered by the NOPD?
Luckily Robicheaux is still on the wagon or we would see him swirl into drink, despair... His AA outlook saves him.
Okay, I was disappointed in the lack of exploration of some of the characters. They are introduced but not fully explored -- if I had not read previous Robicheaux novels, they would have seemed hurried in their introduction.
On a scale of 1 to 10, the styling of the book gets a 9.5 -- the prose, the evocation of the scenes, the way i could practically smell the sea air/salt...
On a scale of 1 to 10, the action is a 10. Brutal, but realistic.
One item surprised me: Dave rarely talks about the daily life of being a police officer.Read more ›
All the characters you have come to look forward to reading about are back again. There's Dave, Clete Purcell, Bootsie, Helen Soileau, Alafair and Batist. Even Tripod, Alafair's three legged pet racoon is still in the cast.
What Burke does exceptionally well with this novel is introduce more interesting characters to the mix. The story also deals with obsession(s) as Dave tries to clear a woman on Death Row while finding out who killed his mother more than 30 years before.
The violence that punctuates all of the novels in this series is also present here as well. Most noticeably, Clete Purcell, Dave's loyal former partner and always best-friend, seems to find more than his fair share of it. His excessive drinking and intemperate remarks and lifestyle continue in PURPLE CANE ROAD and it is during the moments when we read of these events that JLB interjects much of his pathos and humor. Clete is an extremely violent man, but it is also good to know that he is primarily on the side of right. God help the people of Louisiana if he were ever to cross over to the criminal side of the spectrum.
Dave Robicheaux is obssessed by the need to find out who killed his mother Mae in 1967. Readers of this series will remember that Dave's mother abandoned him for a bouree dealer when she left while Dave was still a small boy. As a grown man and a police officer, Dave struggles to do right by her memory by re-opening the unsolved 30 year old case. Along the way, he runs into the string of sociopaths that Burke is so fond of populating this series with.Read more ›
Dave's mother was a "whore", who was killed in the sixties, and according to Zipper, she was killed by police officers.
Dave begins his own investigation into his mother's death, while still trying to find evidence that can spare Letty's life, but with witnesses on BOTH cases being killed, he realizes these two cases may be impossible, and at the same time he must go head to head with a killer who will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.
This is the best entry yet, in the masterful Dave Robicheaux series. "Purple Cane Road" is well-written, and suspenseful throughout, it is peopled with colorful, and exciting characters, and maintains a sense of realism until the end.
James Lee Burke writes the kind of novels readers can get lost in, every sentence flows, while the plot boils to it's stunning conclusion.
A MUST read!
Obsessed about what Zipper claims happened to his mother, Dave begins making inquiries into learning the truth, even at the cost of ignoring his family. Along the way, Dave begins to uncover new evidence on his "other" case that might free death row murderer Letty Labiche. However, as he makes progress on both cases, someone systemically kills his witnesses, making his mother's investigation impossible and probably leaving Labiche for the electric chair. The psychopath jump starts Dave into action when he targets the cop's daughter as one of his victims.
PURPLE CANE ROAD is the best Robicheaux tale to date and that is saying a lot since author James Lee Burke has two Edgars to his credit. The story line is crisp and exciting as expected from the novels in this series. However, this time the plot turns personal which allows the audience to see much of the inner sanctum of Dave's soul. One of the great, perhaps the greatest mystery writer of the past decade, Mr. Burke scores on all cylinders with this taut thriller.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love all of his books, no matter who the characters are but I especially love the Dave Robicheaux character. I lived in New Orleans for 5 yrs. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Teri L. Dysarz
The descriptions are so real it feels like you have been there. His books are addicting. Can't wait to read a new one.Published 3 months ago by Don
The best Robicheaux yet - another example of great, interesting writing. It will be hard to put this one down...exciting, rich and satisfying - a real page -turner. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Joseph H. Race
Love this writer. Just wish I had kept a list of the books I've read so I'd know which one to order next. He paints pictures with his words.Published 5 months ago by K. Henderson
I enjoy Burke's writing. Good story telling in his Dave Robicheau series. If you enjoyed John D. McDonald's Travis McGee series, you'll enjoy these novels as well.Published 6 months ago by jojo gazz