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A Stained White Radiance (A Dave Robicheaux Novel) Hardcover – April 1, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sadistic villains and interior demons plague Cajun police detective Dave Robicheaux as the murder of a local cop draws him into the painful conflicts of the Sonnier family, with whom he grew up near the bayous. Weldon Sonnier, an oil speculator perhaps involved with organized crime in New Orleans, is married to the sister of racist Louisiana politician Bobby Earl; Lyle Sonnier is a televangelist with a widely publicized gift of healing that antagonizes the detective, whose wife has lupus; Weldon and Lyle's sister, Drew, whom Robicheaux loved as a teenager, is New Iberia's liberal eccentric. Harshly abused as children, the Sonniers exert a strong pull on Robicheaux, whose desire to help pits him and his former New Orleans police department partner Cletus Purcel against southern Louisiana's fierce Mafia leader and his hired thugs, one of whom, Robicheaux observes, has a face with the "moral depth and complexity of freshly poured cement." While attending AA meetings, trying to cope with both his response to his wife's illness and his moral rage at Earl's politicking, Robicheaux pursues killers through biker bars and unearths long-buried secrets in the Sonnier past. Burke ( A Morning for Flamingos ) resolves the complex case in a satisfying climax as Robicheaux comes to terms with social ills, the evil of individuals and his own helplessness to overcome them. $100,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Another dark rhapsody on Burke's favorite themes--power and vengeance, organized crime, maverick Louisiana lawmen, and nightmares from Vietnam--all pulled together more tightly than ever by the Sonnier family, threatened by somebody (oilman brother Weldon's mob contacts? televangelist brother Lyle's stray sheep? sister Drew's old political enemies? brother-in-law Bobby Earl's followers in the Aryan Nation? hateful paterfamilias Verise, long presumed dead in a tanker explosion?) who first shoots out Weldon's window and then executes a cop in the family basement. There'll be more violence--much more--and enough guilt for everybody, as New Iberia detective Dave Robicheaux, instead of maundering over the issues, as in Black Cherry Blues (1989) and A Morning for Flamingos (1990), turns in his finest performance to date. By no means a well-made detective story--the Sonniers' coincidental bad luck rivals Job's--but a wholly original tale of crime and revenge, inside and outside the law. This series keeps getting stronger and stronger. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; 1st edition (April 2, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1562829807
  • ISBN-13: 978-1562829803
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #709,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Lee Burke, a rare winner of two Edgar Awards, is the author of twenty-three previous novels, including such New York Times bestsellers as Bitterroot, Purple Cane Road, Cimarron Rose, Jolie Blon's Bounce, and Dixie City Jam. He lives in Missoula, Montana, and New Iberia, Louisiana.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Stone Junction on September 18, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If the axiom ‘Write what you know’ is at all true, then James Lee Burke must have some truly frightening skeletons in his closet. It isn’t so much the subject matter, as it is the passion and intensity with which he pours the narrative onto the page. Burke’s characters live and breathe corruption, and ignorance, and violence, in a manner most of us would scarcely think possible. But he draws us in, into a world so vividly sketched that part of our being yearns to visit it again and again.
A SHINING WHITE RADIANCE is vintage Burke, another steamy and scintillating exploration of crime and corruption in New Orleans. His familiar hero, world-weary police detective Dave Robicheaux, is unwillingly enveloped in the twisted lives of the Sonniers, a local family with a history so unnerving that it’s a wonder any of them got out alive. Following the brutal slaying of a police officer in Weldon Sonnier’s home, Robicheaux is swiftly sped along a road of clues and red herrings, stopping at various points to involve late-night tele-evangelists, local crime bosses, past loves, Air America, drugs, and the AB (Aryan Brotherhood).
Burke has so far (as far as my readings of the Robicheaux novels are concerned) avoided the pitfalls that can trap the author of an ongoing series. The temptation must be great to simply graft a plot around the characters, and let it all just slide by. Burke takes the effort needed to not insult his readership, never content to let the characters simply act as they have in the past. Burke comes up with new ways to reintroduce us to the characters, allowing for new developments that expand what we thought we new about his universe.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By juliest@xtra.co.nz on July 19, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I came to James Lee Burke and Dave Robicheaux by accident and now I am hooked!!! I started with Sunset Limited, not knowing there was 9 earlier novels in the series. I am quickly making my way through them and enjoying them immensely. It is not enough to describe them as "mystery" or "thrillers". Burke has introduced me to a whole new world so completely different to the place I live. Dave is a thoroughly believable creation, and might I add one of the sexiest men in fiction! This is my favourite in the series so far, but I still have 6 to read, and then Burke's other novels! I feel like I have not only been entertained by a good story but I have been educated about a place and people that I had no knowledge of.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mac Blair on September 3, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the fifth Robicheaux book I have read. I think this one was the best so far. It had lots of action, a good mystery going on. Dave is great as usual. I really like Cletus and his loyalty to Dave. I like the language that Burke weaves into the book. Batist is also a very good character. Burke lets you feel the pain and hurt Robicheaux has for himself and his love for Bootsie and Alafair. You can nearly feel the heat lighting and the dust from the roads. Many good characters, much suspense, a good ending. If you like Burke you will like this book, if you have not read him before I think you he will become one of you favoite authors.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 15, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
James Lee Burke has given us another strong effort in his fifth Dave Robicheaux mystery, A Stained White Radiance.

Book five opens with someone shooting a rifle through a window of Weldon Sonnier's house. The Sonnier children (Weldon, Lyle and Drew) were friends of Robicheaux's growing up in New Iberia. Unfortunately, they suffered a horrendous childhood at the hands of their father. It is obvious that Weldon is hiding something and that his life is in danger. A few days later, three men break into Weldon's house and trash the place. When Robicheaux arrives as backup at the scene, he discovers the body of a fellow police officer who was first sent to investigate. He was executed mob-style. Robicheaux now applies a full court press to identify the murderers, discover who is behind then, and also, reveal what dark secrets the Sonnier's are hiding. Burke also has to deal with some issues at home including a sick wife (lupus) who is jealous of an old flame. We also see Robicheaux more in an AA setting. Although he remains on the wagon, we see him work the program more than in previous books.

A Stained White Radiance touches on the "usual" southern Louisiana maladies including drug dealing. But Burke also shows the ugly side of Louisiana that often includes not on the mob, but also rednecks, Nazi's and Aryans. One character, Bobby Earl, is a former Klansman now running for state office (think David Duke). He operates on the fringe, getting others to do his dirty work. Somehow, these guys are all in bed together.

Burke has always been a fine writer, but he really tightened things up since the first books in this series. The plots are less predictable and more enjoyable.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Grey Wolffe VINE VOICE on July 7, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dave is back working as a detective with the New Iberia sheriff's office; living with Bootsie and Alafair, and running his boat rental business. On a routine call, a new officer is killed by two men caught in the middle of a crime. The house where this occurs, is the home of an old friend from his childhood, Weldon Sonnier.

The Sonnier family story is even sorrier than Dave's childhood. Dirt Poor, their mother dies, leaving them to be taken care of by their abusive father's girlfriend. Things get so bad for the kids that at one point they set her on fire. Their father dies in an industrial accident and they spend the rest of their childhood in foster homes and state institutions.

The oldest brother (Weldon) was a flier in 'Nam and then worked for Air America, running drugs and arms to rebels in the mountains of Laos. The younger brother (Lyle) was in 'Nam with Dave, and was a 'tunnel rat' who lost three fingers on his hand. Their sister (Drew) was Dave's girlfriend in college after he got back from 'Nam, as he was on the rebound from Bootsie.

Now Weldon is a rich, successful oilman; Lyle is a born again preacher; and Drew is messed up. Weldon's brother-in-law (his wife is a pill addict) is a racist politician (Bobby Earl) in the manner of David Dukes), mixed up with the aryan brotherhood. One of Earl's biggest backers is the local drug don.

Weldon has gotten involved with Earl's friends who need a man who knows how to fly under the radar (literally). But on a job (that he was pre-paid) for, Weldon gets a conscience and dumps the cargo. Needless to say, his ex-employers are not happy. To add a little extra grusomeness, there is a psychopath midget, and a man with a burned face that looks like melted rubber.
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