Synopses & Reviews
We parked the car in front of the parish jail and listened to the rain beat on the roof. The sky was black, the windows fogged with humidity, and white veins of lightning pulsated in the bank of thunderheads out on the Gulf.
"Tante Lemon's going to be waiting for you," Lester Benoit, the driver, said. He was, like me, a plainclothes detective with the sheriff's department. He wore sideburns and a mustache, and had his hair curled and styled in Lafayette. Each year he arranged to take his vacation during the winter in Miami Beach so that he would have a year-round tan, and each year he bought whatever clothes people were wearing there. Even though he had spent his whole life in New Iberia, except for time in the service, he always looked as if he had just stepped off a plane from somewhere else.
"You don't want to see her, do you?" he said, and grinned.
"We can go in the side door and bring them down the back elevator. She won't even know we've been there."
"It's all right," I said.
"It's not me that's got the problem. If you don't feel good about it, you should have asked off the assignment. What's the big deal, anyway?"
"It's not a big deal."
"Then blow her off. She's an old nigger."
"She says Tee Beau didn't do it. She says he was at her house, helping her shell crawfish, the night that guy got killed. "
"Come on, Dave. You think she's not going to lie to save her grandson?"
"You damn straight, maybe." Then he looked off in the direction of the park on Bayou Teche. "It's too bad the fireworks got rained on. My ex was taking the kids to it. Happens every year. I got to get out of this place." His face looked wan in the glow of thestreetlight through the rain-streaked window. His window was cracked at the top to let out his cigarette smoke.
"Let's do it," I said.
"Give it a minute. I don't want to drive in wet clothes all the way up there."
"It's not going to let up."
"I'll finish my cigarette and we'll see. I don't like being wet. Hey, tell me on the square, Dave, is it delivering Tee Beau that bothers you, or do we have some other kind of concerns here?" The streetlight made shadows like rivulets of rain on his face.
"Have you ever been to one?" I asked.
"I never had to."
"Would you go?"
"I figure the guy sitting in that chair knew the rules."
"Would you go?"
"Yeah, I would." He turned his head and looked boldly at my face.
"It can be an expensive experience."
"But they all knew the rules. Right? You snuff somebody in the state of Louisiana, you get treated to some serious electroshock therapy. "
"Tell me the name of one rich man the state's burned. Or any state, for that matter. "
"Sorry. I'm not broken up about these guys. You think
Jimmie Lee Boggs should have gotten life? Would you like him back around here on parole after ten and a haIf?"
"No, I wouldn't."
"I didn't think so. I'll tell you another thing. If that guy tries anything on me, I'll park one in his mouth. Then I'll find his mother and describe it to her on her deathbed. How's that sound?"
"I'm going in now. You want to come?"
"She's going to be waiting," he said, and grinned again.
She was. In a drenched print-cotton dress, sun-faded and colorless from repeated washings, that clung to her bony frame like wet tissue paper. Her mulatto hair looked like a tangle of gray-gold wire, her high-yellow skin asthough it were spotted with brown dimes. She sat alone on a wood bench next to a holding cell, next to the elevator from which her grandson, Tee Beau Latiolais, whom she had raised by herself, would emerge in a few minutes with Jimmie Lee Boggs, both of them manacled in waist and leg chains. Her blue-green eyes were covered with cataracts, but they never left the side of my face.
She had worked in one of Hattie Fontenot's cribs on Railroad Avenue in the 1940s; then she'd spent a year in the women's penitentiary for stabbing a white man through the shoulder after he beat her up. Later she worked in a laundry and did housework for twenty dollars a week, which was the standard full-time salary for any Negro in South Louisiana, wherever he or she worked, well into the 1960s. Tante Lemon's daughter gave birth prematurely to a baby that was so small it fitted into the shoes box she hid it in before she put it in the bottom of a trash barrel. Tante Lemon heard the child's cries when she went out to use the privy the next morning. She raised Tee Beau as her own, fed him "cush-cush with a spoon to make him strong, and tied a dime around his neck with a string to keep illness from traveling down his throat. They lived in an unpainted shack whose gallery had totally collapsed, so that the steps looked as if they led into a gaping, broken mouth, in an area people called nigger town. Each spring my father, who was a commercial trapper and fisherman, hired her to shell crawfish for him, though he could scarcely afford her meager salary. Whenever he caught mullet or gar in his nets, he dressed it and dropped it by her house.
"I ain't eating that, me," he would say to me, as though he owed anexplanation for being charitable.I could bear the...
Clutching the shards, of his shattered life, Cajun detective Dave Robicheaux has rejoined the New lberia police force.
His partner is dead -- slain during a condemned prisoner's bloodyflight to freedom that left Robicheaux critically wounded...and reawakened the ghost of his haunted, violent past.
Now he's trailing a killer into the sordid head of die Big Easy-caught up in the lethal undercurrents of a mob double-cross...confronting his most dangerous enemy: himself
A Morning for Flamingos
is a classic Dave Robicheaux Louisiana mystery by New York Times
bestselling author James Lee Burke.
Desperately holding together the pieces of his shattered life, Cajun detective Dave Robicheaux has rejoined the New Iberia police force. While transporting two death-row prisoners, Dave is wounded, his partner is killed. Now hes trailing a killer into the heart of the Big Easys underworld.
Embroiled in a world of drug dealers, prostitutes, and double-crosses, Robicheaux is forced to confront his most dangerous enemy: himself.
Absorbing and masterfully executed, A Morning for Flamingos is one of Edgar Award-winning author James Lee Burkes most enduring southern crime novels.
About the Author
James Lee Burke is the author of nineteen novels, including eleven starring the Detective Dave Robicheaux. Burke grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast, where he now lives with his wife, Pearl, and spends several months of the year in Montana.