Synopses & Reviews
For Dave Robicheaux, there is no easy passage home. New Orleans, and the memories of his life in the Big Easy, will always haunt him. So to return there -- as he does in "Last Car to Elysian Fields" -- means visiting old ghosts, exposing old wounds, opening himself up to new, yet familiar, dangers.
When Robicheaux, now a police officer based in the somewhat quieter Louisiana town of New Iberia, learns that an old friend, Father Jimmie Dolan, a Catholic priest always at the center of controversy, has been the victim of a particularly brutal assault, he knows he has to return to New Orleans to investigate, if only unofficially. What he doesn't realize is that in doing so he is inviting into his life -- and into the lives of those around him -- an ancestral evil that could destroy them all.
The investigation begins innocently enough. Assisted by good friend and P.I. Clete Purcel, Robicheaux confronts the man they believe to be responsible for Dolan's beating, a drug dealer and porno star named Gunner Ardoin. The confrontation, however, turns into a standoff as Clete ends up in jail and Robicheaux receives an ominous warning to keep out of New Orleans' affairs.
Meanwhile, back in New Iberia, more trouble is brewing: Three local teenage girls are killed in a drunk-driving accident, the driver being the seventeen-year-old daughter of a prominent physician. Robicheaux traces the source of the liquor to one of New Iberia's "daiquiri windows," places that sell mixed drinks from drive-by windows. When the owner of the drive-through operation is brutally murdered, Robicheaux immediately suspects the grief-crazed father of the dead teen driver. But his assumption is challenged when the murder weapon turns up belonging to someone else.
The trouble continues when Father Jimmie asks Robicheaux to help investigate the presence of a toxic landfill near St. James Parish in New Orleans, which in turn leads to a search for the truth behind the disappearance many years before of a legendary blues musician and composer. Tying together all these seemingly disparate threads of crime is a maniacal killer named Max Coll, a brutal, brilliant, and deeply haunted hit man sent to New Orleans to finish the job on Father Dolan. Once Coll shows up, it becomes clear that Dave Robicheaux will be forced to ignore the warning to stay out of New Orleans, and he soon finds himself drawn deeper into a viper's nest of sordid secrets and escalating violence that sets him up for a confrontation that echoes down the lonely corridors of his own unresolved past.
A masterful exploration of the troubled side of human nature and the darkest corners of the heart, and filled with the kinds of unforgettable characters that are the hallmarks of his novels, "Last Car to Elysian Fields" is James Lee Burke in top form in the kind of lush, atmospheric thriller that his fans have come to expect from the master of crime fiction.
"James Lee Burke is at the top of his game in Last Car to Elysian Fields....Burke's heavies make great showpieces, but Max Coll...knocks them all off the shelf." Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"The writing is beautiful, as always, laced with the author's signature descriptions....This is an outstanding entry in an excellent series." Publishers Weekly
"Burke is, above all, an elegiac poet; his sweeping, lyrical sentences give life to the dead and make living worthwhile for the Robicheaux in all of us." Bill Ott, Booklist (Starred Review)
"Burke's depiction of the racist-to-the-core criminal-justice and prison systems in 1950s Louisiana is terrifying. In his hands, though, Louisiana is almost as funny as it is violent and corrupt..." Richard Lipez, The Washington Post Book World
"Give yourself a star if this all sounds awfully familiar, and another if you can remember who killed whom ten minutes after Burke's last glowing page." Kirkus Reviews
"Violence, death, and terrific prose are abundant in the 13th entry of Burke's Dave Robicheaux series....While the crowded story isn't on par with the best involving Robicheaux, Burke again writes with the touch of a master." Library Journal
Crime fiction legend James Lee Burke is in top form in his latest page-turner steeped in the lush, unsettling atmosphere that his readers have come to expect. This time, Burke's renowned Louisiana cop returns to the Big Easy in a spellbinding tale of conspiracy, passion, and murder. A rainy late-summer night finds Robicheaux in a New Orleans bar, about to confront the man who may have savagely assaulted his friend, Father Jimmie Dolan, a Catholic priest who's always at the center of controversy. But things in a Burke novel are rarely what they seem, and soon Robicheaux is back in his New Iberia jurisdiction, probing a car crash that killed three teenaged girls. A grief-crazed father and a psychologically compromised assassin are just a few of the characters Robicheaux meets as he is drawn deeper into a viper's nest of sordid secrets and escalating violence that sets him up for a confrontation that echoes down the lonely corridors of his own unresolved past. A masterful exploration of the troubled side of human nature and unilluminated corners of the heart, and peopled by familiar characters like P.I. Clete Purcel and Robicheaux's old flame, the now-married Theodosia LeJeune, Last Car to Elysian Fields is vintage Burke.
About the Author
James Lee Burke is the bestselling author of twenty-three previous novels, including White Doves at Morning, Jolie Blon's Bounce, Bitterroot, and Purple Cane Road, all New York Times bestsellers. He lives with his wife in Missoula, Montana, and New Iberia, Louisiana.