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The Neon Rain: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (Dave Robicheaux Mysteries) Paperback – October 1, 2002

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4 Stars and Up Feature: Kitchens of the Great Midwest
"Foodies and those who love contemporary literature will devour this novel that is being compared to Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. A standout." --Library Journal Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Burke's sixth novel pits New Orleans homicide detective Dave Robichaux against the mob, the contras, the Feds and just about all the other cops. The trouble starts when Robichaux insists on investigating the murder of a young prostitute and discovers that it isn't only the crooks who don't want the truth to come out: the police don't want it revealed, either. The underworld and the authorities combine to cobble up a frame against Robichaux, and suddenly he's on the run. Burke's maverick detective and his gritty, realistic dialogue and convoluted plotting are reminiscent of Elmore Leonardwhose latest novel, Bandits, has a contra angle, too. The matter of subterranean government policy running amok suits the world of suspense fiction well, serving it in the 1980s the way Cold War themes fed the genre in earlier decades. With its fine local color and driving action, this novel is both chilling and first-rate entertainment.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

New Orleans homicide cop Dave Robicheaux has a passion for fishing. While pursuing his hobby on a back country bayou, Robicheaux finds a body. His discovery pulls him into a network of small-time Mafiosi, Nicaraguan drug dealers, federal Treasury agents and retired two-star generalsall involved in a plot to ship arms to the Nicaraguan contras. More interesting than the unraveling of this plot is Robicheaux himselfCajun, recovering alcoholic, practicing Catholicand his efforts to preserve his integrity in the face of provocation. Better still are Burke's evocative descriptions of New Orleans life both high and low. The book is marred slightly by a resemblance to the Travis McGee seriesRobicheaux lives on a houseboat and has a penchant for color-laden metaphor. But Neon Rain is a well-crafted novel with a likable hero. Louise A. Merriam, L.E. Phillips Memorial P.L., Eau Claire, Wis.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Dave Robicheaux Mysteries
  • Paperback: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Reprint edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743449207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743449205
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,729 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

224 of 234 people found the following review helpful By Douglas A. Greenberg VINE VOICE on September 6, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The best way to read any literary series, including those involving hard-boiled detectives, is to pick them up in the order the books were written. That way, the individual stories take on greater meaning as part of the ongoing evolution of a principal character as he or she develops and changes. In light of this, it's tempting to recommend that prospective readers of James Lee Burke's Louisiana-based Dave Robicheaux series should start with *The Neon Rain*, which sets the stage for the numerous subsequent books.
Anyone who reads Burke's prose should be impressed by his unusual gift for verbal description. His ability to paint word pictures of places, characters, moods, and feelings is exquisite, and for this reason alone a reader might plow through the entire story. However, the plot construction of *The Neon Rain* is so anemic that I would not be surprised if many of those who read this New Orleans-based story simply refuse to go on to the subsequent stories set in New Iberia. This is a shame, since most of these later works are excellent mysteries in which the stories are far more complex and engrossing.
In this novel, and to some extent in all of them, Burke employs a formulaic approach in which his protagonist veers from crisis to self-inflicted crisis (in pursuit of righteousness and justice, of course), with the narrative invariably punctuated both by breathtaking descriptions of places and people (and also meals), and periodic episodes involving bloody mayhem. After a while it gets pretty predictable; in his later works, however, Burke develops story lines that are sufficiently interesting that he can make the formula work, at least most of the time.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
After reading two Dave Robicheaux mysteries by James Lee Burke, I decided to read this series from the very beginning. Neon Rain is the 1st book in the now 14 book series and was extremely helpful in filling in the blanks of Robicheaux's past that are only hinted at in later books.

Neon Rain opens in New Orleans where Robicheaux is a lieutenant in the New Orleans Police Department. He lives on a houseboat in Lake Pontchatrain, is recently divorced, is a Viet Nam vet and a recovering alcoholic. He carries around more than his fair share of scars and baggage. A man on death row at Angola Prison asks to see Robicheaux hours before he is executed, and informs Robicheaux that there is a contract out on his life. Robicheaux is just as surprised as anybody, but it involves the chance discovery of a young black prostitute floating dead in a bayou. In trying to solve the mystery of the contract, the lieutenant stumbles upon lots of graft and corruption in New Orleans that starts with prostitution and drugs, and ends up with murder, tax fraud, and smuggling arms to Central America. It's sometimes hard to figure out who are the bad guys, who are informants and who are the government agents. And the more involved Robicheaux becomes, the more dangerous his life comes.

This is a good start for Burke, although the plot got a little confusing in spots. Robicheaux is a loose canon, and it's hard to tell why his boss thinks he's such a good cop. He can be brutal and violent and unreasonable. And he never follows any rules. Also, Robicheaux becomes romantically involved with Annie Ballard, but I couldn't figure out why she was attracted to him. Still, Burke is a master of description and observation.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Gregor von Kallahann on September 1, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Except for a few Christies in my teens, I never read mysteries at all (except for one or two that somehow made it into my college curriculum). It had less to do with a lack of interest than a lack of time. I was a struggling academic a long time (too long) and, although I enjoyed mystery films and TV shows, almost everything I read had to do with what I thought would be my life's vocation.
But the genre always intrigued me. International literary figures from Borges to Duerrenmatt have championed the genre and have often used it to their own ends. I was aware that many mystery writers were quite serious about their writing and that much of it rivaled the best in contemporary serious literature.
So in recent years, I've been playing catch up. I've joined with others in forming a Mystery Discussion Group in my public library...and most of these folks are much more knowledgeable than I am. In the past year, we have been doing a lot of sampling of various series, usually a very early work.
I will say that of all the authors we've discussed thus far, James Lee Burke was the least well received--by OTHERS! I found this hard hitting, hard bitten writer to be compelling. But most of the other members of the group seem to prefer more of a "drawing room" type mystery. I don't think I had ever really realized how great a gulf there was between the various sub-genres (I guess it's the Hammett vs. Christie school of thought).
If you've ever railed against the "bloodless" old-school, high tea kind of mysteries, you may want to check Burke out. People really die brutal, ugly deaths here. Murder is not seen as an intellectual puzzle, but as a horrible, de-humanizing reality. For that alone, I give Burke high marks.
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