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The Tin Roof Blowdown: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (Dave Robicheaux Mysteries) Hardcover – July 17, 2007

304 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In Burke's meticulously textured 16th Dave Robicheaux novel (after 2006's Pegasus Descending), Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath provide the backdrop for an account of sin and redemption in New Orleans. When Detective Robicheaux's department is assigned to investigate the shooting of two looters in a wealthy neighborhood, he learns that they had ransacked the home of New Orleans's most powerful mobster. Now he must locate the surviving looter before others do, and in the process he learns the fate of a priest who disappeared in the ill-fated Ninth Ward trying to rescue his trapped parishioners. Burke creates dense, rich prose that draws the reader into a web of greed and violence. Each of his characters feels the hands of both grace and of perdition, and the final outcome of their struggle is never quite certain. Burke showcases all that was both right and wrong in our response to this national disaster, proving along the way that nobody captures the spirit of Gulf Coast Louisiana better. (July)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

Ever since Hurricane Katrina ravaged southern Louisiana in August 2005, James Lee Burke's fans have been waiting for this book, and Burke does not disappoint. Outraged and eloquent, the two-time Edgar Award-winner delivers a gut-wrenching portrayal of the storm's ferocity and devastating aftermath, venting through Robicheaux his frustration at the human incompetence and greed that magnified nature's destructive fury. His evocative, heartfelt prose, sympathetic characters, and intricately interwoven plotlines grip the reader from the first page. Burke's admirers will savor this latest installment, while those not yet acquainted with Robicheaux can start here, thanks to the comprehensive background information Burke provides in what critics call his best book yet.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Dave Robicheaux Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (July 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416548483
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416548485
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (304 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,119 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

112 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Deborah on July 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is the most horrifying description of post Katrina that I've read to date. Burke's lush descriptions of the beauty of New Orleans and Louisiana bayou country are gone, replaced by "bodies wrapped tight like mummies in the gray and brown detritus left by the receding waters." There were parts I had to close my eyes to listen to because the sense of place was so vivid and I couldn't stand what I was seeing. There were times I found tears rolling down my face without notice.

The story is vintage Burke with a little bit of "is it mystical magic or not" thrown in amongst the good vs. evil that is the cross on which Burke hangs his stories. Burke's politics is more evident here than in other books, with Bush bashing, gratuitous remarks about Fox News, etc., jarringly interrupting the story's magic. But yet, the depth of Burke's anger at what happened in New Orleans, the failures and abandoment, certainly is well-grounded, and he vents that anger for all to see.

You can read the publisher's summary to get a feel for the story, but even if Burke was writing about the recipe for a fish stew, I'd read it and it would be wonderful. There is not a writer alive today that can put you in the scene so completely - the smells, the sights, the scent of the breeze, the color of sunlight and shade, the fragility of a human soul and its wounds...he's just amazing.

This is a wonderful, achingly sad, and horrific story of how Burke mourns the City of New Orleans and what it once was. Dave and Clete have lost their anchor and their childhoods.

I'd give it 10 stars if possible.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think that James Lee Burke outdid himself with his latest Dave Robicheaux mystery, The Tin Roof Blowdown. Burke has often used the backdrop of New Orleans for his often dark and tortured books. But no fictional event could have provided as much material as Hurricane Katrina did in 2005.

Dave Robicheaux is a detective with the New Iberia Sheriff's Department, outside of New Orleans. When Katrina hits the Crescent City, all outside law enforcement agencies sent available officers to aid with the chaos that resulted. Robicheaux spent time in Viet Nam, but nothing he saw in war could have prepared him for what he witnessed in New Orleans. When he left Nam, he thought he would "never again have to witness the wide-scale suffering of innocent civilians, nor the betrayal and abandonment of our countrymen when they need us the most. But that was before Katrina. That was before a storm with greater impact than the bomb blast that struck Hiroshima peeled the face off southern Louisiana."

In The Tin Roof Blowdown, bounty hunter and Robicheaux friend, Cletus Purcel, is trying to pick up some bail skips right before Katrina hits. But the same men that Purcel is after end up being wanted for a host of other crimes as well. Not only that, but they've stolen a fortune from the top Mafioso in New Orleans. So not only are the cops looking for them, but some unsavory characters are as well. How these characters all converge is vintage Burke.

One of the things I like best about Burke's books is that he makes the locale a major player in his stories. He has a love/hate relationship with New Orleans and calls her the Whore of Babylon. When driving through the ruined streets, he muses "New Orleans had been a song, not a city.
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48 of 57 people found the following review helpful By H. Schneider on September 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Let me say upfront, that I like J.L.Burke's writing, and his basic attitude to life and the world. When I give this current bestseller only 3 stars, it comes first of all from a spirit of contrariness (if all others give 5 stars, I must find something wrong..., sorry), but also from a sense of dissatisfaction with too many elements in the story.
The book starts with a very strong short chapter on Dave's Vietnam nightmares, which makes you think of the parallells to the Katrina experience: manifold death in a tropical setting of chaos. It follows up on this introduction with many equally strong chapters on the hurricane and and its aftermath: the destruction, the violence, the neglect, the hopelessness.
But then it loses steam by focusing on a crime narrative that is just too overloaded with cliches and with the slightly worn out patterns of the Dave Robicheaux series. Sorry to say, but as much as I like the guy Dave, the ex-alcoholic liberal catholic with the permanently changing and permanently endangered family and the outbursts of violent behaviour, I think his sidekick Clete is too much of a compromise to the requirements of the action genre. Also, the habit of creating a new super evil monster, here called Ronald (my name is Ronald, what is yours?) again and again is a bit tiring. Same goes for the repetitive versions of the dominant gangster bosses with the human touch and the normal wives. Why is it, by the way, that Dave seems to know all gangsters from either childhood or from Vietnam? Is Louisiana that small? (As Clete said previously, Louisiana is not part of the US, but of Central America.)
Luckily in this volume of the series Burke has not indulged in his other repetitive topic, the decadent old money family with a French name.
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