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Sunset Limited (Dave Robicheaux Mysteries (Paperback)) Mass Market Paperback – July 6, 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 181 customer reviews
Book 10 of 20 in the Robicheaux Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Dripping with the cynicism and sweat that runs rampant through the Louisiana bayou parishes, actor Will Patton gives an extraordinary reading of James Lee Burke's latest tension-filled tale. Each character gets a distinct patois that not only distinguishes his or her voice, but conveys class, race, and in many cases, a raw, unforgiving, and unsavory nature: necessary ingredients for such a brilliant and dark work. And while Northerners may, at times, struggle with the strong colloquialisms, Patton's varied Southern tones justify a listen.

Like Burke's other work, contradictions rule. Beauty is juxtaposed against ugliness; rape, killings, and revenge are woven through an intense and elegiac prose in which the lush details of nature run profuse and poetic. The upshot is an almost dreamlike, or rather nightmarish, account of detective Dave Robicheaux's search for justice in a mounting set of murders. His journeys run from wealthy manors to cockfights and cathouses and through the injustices of a South where past and present are rarely separated. The detective's keen, indisputable insights on human nature and history set him and this story apart from all peers. (Running time: 4.5 hours, four cassettes) --Anne Lockwood --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

After stepping into stand-alone territory with Cimmaron Rose (1997), Burke choreographs a masterful return to the lush and brooding world of volatile New Iberia Sheriff's Deputy Dave Robicheaux (Cadillac Jukebox, 1996). This tale's strength lies in breathtaking, moody descriptive passages and incisive vignettes that set time, place and character. Burke's major themes, that the past is key to the present and that money buys power, pervade this mystery. The narrative, with more twists and bounces than a fish fighting a hook, rises from the violent, unsolved murder 40 years ago of union organizer Jack Flynn. The story encompasses at least eight disparate but interlocking subplots: the crooked money behind a movie directed by Flynn's son Cisco; the hold that ex-con Swede Boxleiter has on Cisco's photojournalist sister, Megan; Willie "Cool Breeze" Broussard's theft of a mob warehouse; his wife Ida's suicide 20 years ago; the shooting of two white brothers who raped a black woman; alcoholic Lisa Terrebonne's haunted childhood; her wealthy, arrogant father's ties to Harpo Scruggs, a vicious murderer; the post-Civil War killing by freed slaves of a Terrebonne servant. Hired assassins, snitches, lawmen and FBI agents weave through the novel. Dave and his partner Detective Helen Soileau find the connections, but Dave knows that in the ongoing class war, the worst criminals wield too much influence to pay for their crimes. In rich, dense prose, Burke conjures up bizarre, believable characters who inhabit vivid, spellbinding scenes in a multifaceted, engrossing plot. $300,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Dave Robicheaux Mysteries (Paperback)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Island Books (July 6, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440223989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440223986
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Sunset Limited" is my first book by Burke. In many ways, it is excellent. Burke has the ability to make you feel like you're in the middle of the scenes he describes. He conjures up mist rising from a Louisiana bayou so that you not only see it, you smell it and feel it as well. His characters come alive in a very human way. There are manipulators and pawns, perpetrators and victims. Innocents sometimes pay a heavy price for the misdeeds of others, but even a killer like Swede Boxleiter has redeeming qualities. And Burke's story never has a dull moment. Tension is constant and there is plenty of action.
With all these strengths brought to bear,"Sunset Limited" has a lot going for it, but it also has some shortcomings. This is the 16th Dave Robicheaux novel. A consequence of this is that some things are taken for granted, like the nickname "Streak". Several characters use it on Robicheaux, but if you're unfamiliar with the series, its significance is lost on you. This isn't a big deal, but it is symptomatic of the fact that terms and local expressions abound in this book. To the extent that it can sometimes be difficult for the uninitiated to follow the meaning. Another thing that struck me was that there are a lot of characters in the story, and some just seem to fade in or out without adequate introduction or resolution. For example, "Cool Breeze" Broussard is a pivotal character early in the story, but he just seems to disappear about midway through and you never see any more of him. In the end, the story itself seems to fade away almost like "Cool Breeze". I felt that a lot was left unresolved when the book was done, and it left me with a vaguely unsatisfied feeling.
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Format: Hardcover
'Sunset Limited' is pretty good - not great, but pretty good. Burke has moved even further than his previous novels into the realm of atmosphere and psychological context, sacrificing narrative coherence along the way (whether this is a worthwhile exchange depends on your point of view).
This is the sixteenth book centering on Burke's increasingly battered hero, Dave Robicheaux; he is still haunted by old demons, although generally he seems to have found a way to live with most of them. His sometime-friend, Clete Purcel, is still half-heroic, half-pathetic.
The plot centres around a series of decades-old crimes, particularly the grisly murder of a union activist. This leads the book into a series of narrative strands, but sometimes Burke seems to be straining to connect them: there are more than a few unlikely coincidences, and some incidents seem to go nowhere. It is characteristic of the book that the initial reason for Robicheaux's involvement - to locate and perhaps clear a petty crim called Cool Breeze Broussard (Burke has not lost his talent for wonderfully appropriate names) - fades away at the book's half-way point.
But there are villains aplenty: in fact, there are few sympathetic characters here. Some of the bad guys are rich and clever, some are poor and stupid, and some of the worst carry a badge. You can't trust anyone these days, and justice prevails only occasionally.
All this darkness of spirit would be somewhat suffocating, except that Burke has a knack of inserting passages of striking beauty. He has a remarkable feel for the social and physical texture of Louisiana, and a grasp of detail which is almost Chandleresque. Neither has he lost his ear for dialogue: each character has a noticeably different way of speaking, or even of being silent.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was different than the other installments in the Dave Robicheaux series. I actually had some trouble getting into SUNSET LIMITED and that was immediately after finishing JLB's CIMARRON ROSE. When I first opened the book, I was glad to be back in New Iberia. It was reassuring to know that Dave was back and so were Clete, Helen, the Sheriff, Batist, and Alafair and Bootsie (although in much diminished supporting roles). JLB has a beautiful way of describing his characters, especially the ones who drag Dave into their sordid little lives. SUNSET LIMITED is no different in that regard and in this book, I really started to be worried (and frightened) for Clete. Clete's violence is relentless and frightening in its scope. JLB just doesn't let us off easily when Clete goes on the warpath. What I did like and what James Lee is also a master of is his description of the bond that binds Dave to Clete and vice versa. The loyalty, the affection and the caring are all well written. I've had a couple of friends like Clete (and a couple like Dave, too) and in these books, they're well constructed. My problem with "S-L" was that for some reason it didn't grab me from the get-go. Could it have been because I had just finished Cimarron Rose and there just wasn't enough difference between Dave and Billy Bob Holland? Could it be that I'm JLB'd out? Or, did I just not like Megan Flynn and her brother (who ended up with more character and integrity than I first thought)? That was a surprise.
The JLB mastery of place and description is still there and I think it might even be better developed than in some of the earlier installments. It's just that this book didn't get hold of me as early on as his others did.
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