new iberia blues
Format reviewed: Audio

New Iberia Blues by James Lee Burke

The book New Iberia Blues is the 22nd Dave Robicheaux book by Jame Lee Burke.  Dave is a sheriff’s deputy, he has a new partner who is pretty and he likes her, but there is a large age difference, which makes things awkward.  They find the body of a young woman.  It seems the killer did things to invoke some kind of symbolism.  One of Dave’s old friends is a famous movie director and his company is in town shooting a film.  Dave’s daughter Alafair has grown into a young woman who starts hanging out with people involved with the movie … which puts Dave on edge.  More dead women, with symbolism imposed, are turning up.  Dave is a recovering alcoholic and the investigations take him into a bar where he connects with a blues signer.  Dave’s best friend Cletus Purcel gets involved in the investigation.  Even Dave’s pet raccoon has a role. These threads, and so much more, are woven into a tapestry that is the book New Iberia Blues.

Burke is a great writer and his prose is rich, descriptive, and evocative.  The is a ton going on in the story, but it is easy to follow and the reader is pulled in. Fans of the series will enjoy the book and welcome the familiar characters and their ongoing development.  The author describes New Orleans, its parishes, people, their ghosts, failings and achievements and brings it all alive.  People are struggling, but they make it through because of who they are, their friends, and because of what they hold dear.

As I read this book I started to wonder, what comes next?  Dave feels old.  He is a great cop, but I had the impression that he was getting to the point where he would prefer fishing to police work.  Also, he seemed to be reaching the point where there was so much dysfunction that he may need to retire in order to maintain his relationships with his friends and family.  See?  I’m involved with the characters!

There was one aspect of the story telling that pulled me out of the story a bit.  At various points in the story Dave goes into a funk and there was a rich, layered, inner narrative of how things were and how he was seeing things.  This was repeated a few times and because of that it almost seemed formulaic.

I listened to the audiobook version and the reader was great.  Sometimes after listening to a number of audiobooks in a series, the reader because part of the landscape and it wouldn’t feel like the same series without them.  Such is the case with the Dave Robicheaux books.