There are several good novelist, but there is only one of which I have read every book he has written and am constantly checking out if he has published a new novel. That would be James Lee Burke author of “Heaven’s Prisoners” and “Two For Texas”. These novels might be what he is best known for because they were made into motion pictures. I like Burke’s work because it involves exploring the world of greed and crime, his portrayal of the South, and the characters he develops in his novels.
James Burke writes about the greed and crime mostly in the area of New Orleans and does an excellent job of describing the dichotomy of the wealthy and the lower class who struggle to make a living. His empathy falls with the latter, and as one might expect the plot deals with how the people with money exploit those that have little. His main character is Detective Dave Robicheaux, who has his own demons to conquer as a he is a former alcoholic, but spends most his time trying to protect the rights of the lower class citizens of New Orleans. Although he is fearless and not too worried about himself, he sometimes puts his own family in danger because of ruthless criminals he gets entangled with. His best friend is Clete Purcel, also a detective, who is very reckless which gets him in trouble, but Purcel always has Robicheaux’s back.
Burke’s portrayal of the “South” is very poetic and allows the reader to appreciate the setting and culture of the area. He portrays the physical setting very skillfully, and also gives insight of the southern culture. The setting is usually the lively city of New Orleans, the poverty prevalent rural areas surrounding New Orleans, or the Gulf of Mexico where the southerners attempt to make a living through the fishing and oil industries.
The characters that Burke develops keeps the reader involved and wanting to learn more about them. In Burke’s earlier books, besides Detective Dave Robicheux and Clete Purcel, you are introduced to Robicheux’s adoptive daughter Alafair when she is young and innocent. In his more recent book, “The Glass Rainbow”, Alafair is a college student who displays all of her father’s positive traits as courage and empathy. The other characters vary in accordance with the plot and may include a criminal mastermind or an innocent civilian who somehow got entangled with a vile situation.
The last novel written by James Lee Burke that I was able to get a hold of was “The Glass Rainbow” written in 2010, but I plan on reading his newest output “Feast Day of Fools” soon.