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Jolie Blon's Bounce: A Dave Robicheaux Novel

by

Jolie Blon's Bounce: A Dave Robicheaux Novel Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Growing up during the 1940s in New Iberia, down on the Gulf Coast, I never doubted how the world worked. At dawn the antebellum homes along East Main loomed out of the mists, their columned porches and garden walkways and second-story verandas soaked with dew, the chimneys and slate roofs softly molded by the canopy of live oaks that arched over the entire street.

The stacks of sunken U.S. Navy ships lay sideways in Pearl Harbor and service stars hung inside front windows all over New Iberia. But on East Main, in the false dawn, the air was heavy with the smell of night-blooming flowers and lichen on damp stone and the fecund odor of Bayou Teche, and even though a gold service star may have hung in a window of a grand mansion, indicating the death of a serviceman in the family, the year could have been mistaken for 1861 rather than 1942.

Even when the sun broke above the horizon and the ice wagons and the milk delivery came down the street on iron-rimmed wheels and the Negro help began reporting for work at their employers' back doors, the light was never harsh, never superheated or smelling of tar roads and dust as it was in other neighborhoods. Instead it filtered through Spanish moss and bamboo and philodendron that dripped with beads of moisture as big as marbles, so that even in the midst of summer the morning came to those who lived here with a blue softness that daily told them the earth was a grand place, its design vouchsafed in heaven and not to be questioned.

Down the street was the old Frederic Hotel, a lovely pink building with marble columns and potted palms inside, a ballroom, an elevator that looked like a brass birdcage, and a saloon with wood-bladed fans and an elevated, scrolled-iron shoeshine chair and a long, hand-carved mahogany bar. Amid the palm fronds and the blue and gray swirls of color in the marble columns were the slot and racehorse machines, ringing with light, their dull pewterlike coin trays offering silent promise to the glad at heart.

Farther down Main were Hopkins and Railroad Avenues, like ancillary conduits into part of the town's history and geography that people did not talk about publicly. When I went to the icehouse on Saturday afternoons with my father, I would look furtively down Railroad at the rows of paintless cribs on each side of the train tracks and at the blowsy women who sat on the stoops, hung over, their knees apart under their loose cotton dresses, perhaps dipping beer out of a bucket two Negro boys carried on a broom handle from Hattie Fontenot's bar.

I came to learn early on that no venal or meretricious enterprise existed without a community's consent. I thought I understood the nature of evil. I learned at age twelve I did not.


My half brother, who was fifteen months younger than I, was named Jimmie Robicheaux. His mother was a prostitute in Abbeville, but he and I were raised together, largely by our father, known as Big Aldous, who was a trapper and commercial fisherman and offshore derrick man. As children Jimmie and I were inseparable. On summer evenings we used to go to the lighted ball games at City Park and slip into the serving lines at barbecues and crab boils at the open-air pavilions. Our larceny was of an innocent kind, I suppose, and we were quite proud of ourselves when we thought we had outsmarted the adult world.

On a hot August night, with lightning rippling through the thunderheads over the Gulf of Mexico, Jimmie and I were walking through a cluster of oak trees on the edge of the park when we saw an old Ford automobile with two couples inside, one in the front seat, one in the back. We heard a woman moan, then her voice mount in volume and intensity. We stared openmouthed as we saw the woman's top half arch backward, her naked breasts lit by the glow from a picnic pavilion, her mouth wide with orgasm.

We started to change direction, but the woman was laughing now, her face sweaty and bright at the open window.

"Hey, boy, you know what we been doin'? It make my pussy feel so good. Hey, come here, you. We been fuckin', boy," she said.

It should have been over, a bad encounter with white trash, probably drunk, caught in barnyard copulation. But the real moment was just beginning. The man behind the steering wheel lit a cigarette, his face flaring like paste in the flame, then stepped out on the gravel. There were tattoos, like dark blue smears, inside his forearms. He used two fingers to lift the blade out of a pocketknife.

"You like to look t'rew people's windows?" he asked.

"No, sir," I said.

"They're just kids, Legion," the woman in back said, putting on her shirt.

"Maybe that's what they gonna always be," the man said.

I had thought his words were intended simply to frighten us. But I could see his face clearly now, the hair combed back like black pitch, the narrow white face with vertical lines in it, the eyes that could look upon a child as the source of his rage against the universe.

Then Jimmie and I were running in the darkness, our hearts pounding, forever changed by the knowledge that the world contains pockets of evil that are as dark as the inside of a leather bag.

Because my father was out of town, we ran all the way to the icehouse on Railroad Avenue, behind which was the lit and neatly tended house of Ciro Shanahan, the only man my father ever spoke of with total admiration and trust.

Later in life I would learn why my father had such great respect for his friend. Ciro Shanahan was one of those rare individuals who would suffer in silence and let the world do him severe injury in order to protect those whom he loved.


On a spring night in 1931, Ciro and my father cut their boat engines south of Point Au Fer and stared at the black-green outline of the Louisiana coast in the moonlight. The waves were capping, the wind blowing hard, puffing and snapping the tarp that was stretched over the cases of Mexican whiskey and Cuban rum that my father and Ciro had off-loaded from a trawler ten miles out. My father looked through his field glasses and watched two searchlights sweeping the tops of the waves to the south. Then he rested the glasses on top of the small pilothouse that was built out of raw pine on the stern of the boat and wiped the salt spray off his face with his sleeve and studied the coastline. The running lights of three vessels pitched in the swells between himself and the safety of the shore.

"Moon's up. I done tole you, bad night to do it," he said.

"We done it before. We still here, ain't we?" Ciro said.

"Them boats off the bow? That's state men, Ciro," my father said.

"We don't know that," Ciro said.

"We can go east. Hide the load at Grand Chenier and come back for it later. You listen, you. Don't nobody make a living in jail," my father said.

Ciro was short, built like a dockworker, with red hair and green eyes and a small, down-hooked Irish mouth. He wore a canvas coat and a fedora that was tied onto his head with a scarf. It was unseasonably cold and his face was windburned and knotted with thought inside his scarf.

"The man got his trucks up there, Aldous. I promised we was coming in tonight. Ain't right to leave them people waiting," he said.

"Sitting in an empty truck ain't gonna put nobody in Angola," my father said.

Ciro's eyes drifted off from my father's and looked out at the southern horizon.

"It don't matter now. Here come the Coast Guard. Hang on," he said.

The boat Ciro and my father owned together was long and narrow, like a World War I torpedo vessel, and had been built to service offshore drilling rigs, with no wasted space on board. The pilothouse sat like a matchbox on the stern, and even when the deck was stacked with drill pipe the big Chrysler engines could power through twelve-foot seas.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780743411448
Author:
Burke, James Lee
Publisher:
Pocket Star
Subject:
Louisiana
Subject:
Thrillers
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Private investigators
Subject:
Men's Adventure
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
Mystery-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
B101
Publication Date:
October 2003
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
6.75 x 4.19 in 7.84 oz

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Jolie Blon's Bounce: A Dave Robicheaux Novel Used Mass Market
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 480 pages Pocket Star Books - English 9780743411448 Reviews:
"Review" by , "To read a Burke novel is to enter a timeless, parallel universe of violent emotions and lush, brooding landscapes....This is the stunningly talented Burke's 21st book and his best until the next one....Burke offers a vivid social history of an inbred, corrupt place."
"Review" by , "The volcanic types Dave's saga has made familiar are muffled this time out, and the plotting is even more darkly tangled than usual. Yet Burke succeeds over and over again in writing harshly lacerating scenes nobody's ever written before — not even him."
"Review" by , "The satanic Guidry...is as compelling a bad guy as any in literature....The sights, sounds, and tastes of Cajun country...are not absent this time, but they are overwhelmed by the subhuman stench of pure malevolence. An atypical entry in the series, then, but a compelling one."
"Review" by , "As Robicheaux tries to set right the world around him, the book explores some of the most troubling aspects of Louisiana's (and America's) racist past. This is Burke at his best."
"Review" by , "Burke's dialogue sounds true as a tape recording; his writing about action is strong and economical....Burke is a prose stylist to be reckoned with."
"Review" by , "I can't think of any writer who can plumb the human capacity for evil deeper than Burke."
"Review" by , "Even among his most talented contemporaries, Mr. Burke is something special."
"Review" by , "America's best novelist."
"Review" by , "No question about it, Legion is one of Burke's finest villains — a creature of immense force, fueled by pure malignancy, but not without the shred of humanity that makes a monster memorable."
"Review" by , "[O]verflows with vibrant characters....Burke draws quick, indelible sketches....But the plot...trickl[es] off into so many rivulets...that you might find yourself forgetting halfway through the book what case Dave's investigating. (Grade: B-)"
"Synopsis" by , In Burke's latest bayou Gothic, a schoolgirl and a prostitute have been murdered, and the prime suspect is a gifted Cajun folk musician named Tee Bobby Hulin. Cop Dave Robicheaux believes that Hulin is innocent, and sets out to prove it — but in the process, he runs afoul of a scary old man named Legion who may be the devil himself. A New York Times Notable Book for 2002.
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