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Creole Belle: A Dave Robicheaux Novel [Format Kindle]

James Lee Burke
3.3 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait



FOR THE REST of the world, the season was still fall, marked by cool nights and the gold-green remnants of summer. For me, down in South Louisiana, in the Garden District of New Orleans, the wetlands that lay far beyond my hospital window had turned to winter, one characterized by stricken woods that were drained of water and strung with a web of gray leaves and dead air vines that had wrapped themselves as tightly as cord around the trees.

Those who have had the following experience will not find my descriptions exaggerated or even metaphorical in nature. A morphine dream has neither walls nor a ceiling nor a floor. The sleep it provides is like a warm bath, free of concerns about mortality and pain and memories from the past. Morpheus also allows us vision through a third eye that we never knew existed. His acolytes can see through time and become participants in grand events they had believed accessible only through history books and films. On one occasion, I saw a hot-air balloon rising from its tether in Audubon Park, a uniformed soldier operating a telegrapher’s key inside the wicker basket, while down below other members of the Confederate Signal Corps shared sandwiches and drank coffee from tin cups, all of them as stately and stiff as figures in a sepia-tinted photograph.

I don’t wish to be too romantic about my experience in the recovery facility there on St. Charles Avenue in uptown New Orleans. While I gazed through my window at the wonderful green streetcar wobbling down the tracks on the neutral ground, the river fog puffing out of the live oak trees, the pink and purple neon on the Katz & Besthoff drugstore as effervescent as tentacles of smoke twirling from marker grenades, I knew with a sinking heart that what I was seeing was an illusion, that in reality the Katz & Besthoff drugstore and the umbrella-covered sno’ball carts along St. Charles and the musical gaiety of the city had slipped into history long ago, and somewhere out on the edge of my vision, the onset of permanent winter waited for me.

Though I’m a believer, that did not lessen the sense of trepidation I experienced in these moments. I felt as if the sun were burning a hole in the sky, causing it to blacken and collapse like a giant sheet of carbon paper suddenly crinkling and folding in on itself, and I had no power to reverse the process. I felt that a great darkness was spreading across the land, not unlike ink spilling across the face of a topographic map.

Many years ago, when I was recovering from wounds I received in a Southeast Asian country, a United States Army psychiatrist told me that my morphine-induced dreams were creating what he called a “world destruction fantasy,” one that had its origins in childhood and the dissolution of one’s natal family. He was a scientist and a learned man, and I did not argue with him. Even at night, when I lay in a berth on a hospital ship, far from free-fire zones and the sound of ammunition belts popping under a burning hooch, I did not argue. Nor did I contend with the knowledge of the psychiatrist when dead members of my platoon spoke to me in the rain and a mermaid with an Asian face beckoned to me from a coral cave strung with pink fans, her hips spangled with yellow coins, her mouth parting, her naked breasts as flushed with color as the inside of a conch shell.

The cult of Morpheus is a strange community indeed, and it requires that one take up residence in a country where the improbable becomes commonplace. No matter what I did, nor how many times I disappeared out my window into the mists along St. Charles Avenue, back into an era of rooftop jazz bands and historical streetcars filled with men in bowler hats and women who carried parasols, the watery gray rim of a blighted planet was always out there—intransigent and corrupt, a place where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal.

IN THE EARLY A.M. on a Friday, I asked the black attendant to open the windows in my room. It was against the rules, but the attendant was an elderly and kind man who had spent five days on a rooftop after the collapse of the levees during Hurricane Katrina, and he wasn’t given to concerns about authority. The windows reached to the ceiling and were hung with ventilated green shutters that were closed during the heat of the day to filter the sun’s glare. The attendant opened both the glass and the shutters and let in the night smell of the roses and camellias and magnolia and rain mist blowing through the trees. The air smelled like Bayou Teche when it’s spring and the fish are spawning among the water hyacinths and the frogs are throbbing in the cattails and the flooded cypress. It smelled like the earth may have smelled during the first days of creation, before any five-toed footprints appeared along the banks of a river.

Or at least I think the black man opened the windows. Even to this day I cannot be sure of what I said and saw and heard that night. Like the drunkard who fears both his memory and his dreams, I had become cynical about my perceptions, less out of fear that they were illusions than a conviction that they were real.

After the black man had left the room, I turned my head on the pillow and looked into the face of a Cajun girl by the name of Tee Jolie Melton.

“Hi, Mr. Dave,” she said. “I read all about the shooting in the papers. You was on television, too. I didn’t know you was here in New Orleans. I’m sorry to see you hurt like this. You was talking French in your sleep.”

“It’s nice to see you, Tee Jolie. How’d you get in?” I said.

“T’rew the front door. You want me to come back another time?”

“Can you get me a glass of water?”

“I got you better than that. I brought you a Dr Pepper and a lime I cut up, ’cause that’s what you always drank when you came into the club. I brought you somet’ing else, too. It’s an iPod I filled wit’ music. I loaded ‘Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar’ on it, ’cause I knew how you always liked that song.”

Her eyes were blue-green, her hair long and mahogany-colored with twists of gold in it that were as bright as buttercups. She was part Indian and part Cajun and part black and belonged to that ethnic group we call Creoles, although the term is a misnomer.

“You’re the best,” I said.

“Remember when you he’ped me with my car crash? You was so kind. You took care of everyt’ing, and I didn’t have no trouble at all because of it.”

It wasn’t a car crash. As I recalled, it was at least three car crashes, but I didn’t pursue the point. The most interesting aspect of Tee Jolie’s auto accidents were her written explanations at the scene. To the best of my memory, these were her words:

“I was backing up when this light pole came out of nowhere and smashed into my bumper.

“I was turning left, but somebody was blocking the lane, so, trying to be polite, I switched my turn indicator and cut through the school parking lot, but I didn’t have no way of knowing the chain was up on the drive at that time of day, because it never is.

“When the transmission went into reverse, Mr. Fontenot was putting my groceries in the backseat, and the door handle caught his coat sleeve and drug him across the street into the gas pump that blew up. I tried to give him first aid on the mouth, but he had already swallowed this big wad of gum that the fireman had to pull out with his fingers. I think Mr. Fontenot almost bit off one of the fireman’s fingers and didn’t have the courtesy to say he was sorry.”

Tee Jolie fixed a glass of ice and Dr Pepper with a lime slice and stuck a straw in it and held it up to my mouth. She was wearing a long-sleeve shirt printed with purple and green flowers. Her skirt was pale blue and fluffy and pleated, and her shoes looked tiny on her feet. You could say that Tee Jolie was made for the camera, her natural loveliness of a kind that begged to be worshipped on a stage or hung on a wall. Her face was thin, her eyes elongated, and her hair full of waves, as though it had been recently unbraided, although that was the way it always looked.

“I feel selfish coming here, ’cause it wasn’t just to give you a Dr Pepper and the iPod,” she said. “I came here to ax you somet’ing, but I ain’t gonna do it now.”

“You can say anything you want, Tee Jolie, because I’m not even sure you’re here. I dream in both the day and the night about people who have been dead many years. In my dreams, they’re alive, right outside the window, Confederate soldiers and the like.”

“They had to come a long way, huh?”

“That’s safe to say,” I replied. “My wife and daughter were here earlier, and I know they were real. I’m not sure about you. No offense meant. That’s just the way it is these days.”

“I know something I ain’t suppose to know, and it makes me scared, Mr. Dave,” she said.

She was sitting in the chair, her ankles close together, her hands folded on her knees. I had always thought of her as a tall girl, particularly when she was onstage at the zydeco club where she sang, an arterial-red electric guitar hanging from her neck. Now she looked smaller than she had a few moments ago. She lifted her face up into mine. There was a mole by the corner of her mouth. I didn’t know what she wanted me to say.

“Did you get involved with some bad guys?” I said.

“I wouldn’t call them that. How come you to ax me that?”

“Because you’re a good person, and sometimes you trust people you shouldn’t. Good women tend to do that. That’s why a...

Revue de presse

“Gripping.”—People Magazine

“Burke is the reigning champ of nostalgia noir. . . . To be sure, the destruction of a pristine natural environment is a thematic staple of the regional crime novel, but nobody can touch Burke in the lyrical expression of howling grief. . . . [Creole Belle is] a novel that shows how the sins of the fathers poison the ground their children walk on.”—The New York Times Book Review

“I think [James Lee] Burke is the best fiction writer in the country.”—Bill O’Reilly

“All the characters . . . are superbly drawn, and the plot is heart-pounding . . . sure to be embraced by author James Lee Burke's fans.”—The Washington Post

“Burke, 75, creates lyrical mysteries with what can only be described as deceptive ease. Whether it’s Robicheaux, stand-alone novels, or separate series starring Texas cousins Billy Bob and Hackberry Holland, the themes remain constant. Every novel Burke writes delves into moral ambiguity, the menaces of greed and violence, the degradation of people and land, the juxtaposition of natural beauty and man-made horror and, finally, the sublime joy of human love and loyalty.”The Christian Science Monitor

“Burke never goes wrong with his exquisite gift for taking us into the heart of Louisiana, its wetlands, small towns, the glory of old New Orleans and, as always, its checkered history. Combined with some of the finest characters ever to grace a page, that makes any Robicheaux novel a joy to read.” (The Globe and Mail (Canada))

“Like its 18 predecessors in Burke’s series, Creole Belle is a work of dark and radiant brilliance.”Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Reading James Lee Burke is a religious experience. …Creole Belle may be one of Burke's best; it is certainly one of his most complex. . . . Intense doesn't begin to describe a Burke story . . . Biblical . . . now that about does it.”—San Antonio Express

“The plot is fast-moving and thriller-tough, the bodies mount quickly, and the writing is lyrical and evocative . . . as laced with complications as the canals crosscutting Robicheaux's beloved, threatened wetlands.”—New Orleans Times-Picayune

"If all novelists were as thoughtful and nuanced as James Lee Burke, we could finally put to rest those groundless prejudices against genre fiction . . . the [Dave Robicheaux] books are works of dark art. At their unflinching best, they examine the cost of violence, even when it's performed in the name of justice, and the haunted worlds inhabited by those resigned to limping through life with a blood-soaked conscience." (Miami Herald)

“Burke weaves a rich example of his trademark bayou noir. Filled with cruelty and valor, greed and sacrifice, and surprises of the worst and best kind, Creole Belle is a dark but irresistible cruise.”—Tampa Bay Times

“As a crime novel, Creole Belle delivers everything fans of the genre crave, and more: a masterful tale of good, evil, organized crime and the corporate-led destruction of the once-idyllic land of the Gulf Coast. Burke muses along at a steady pace, never hurrying, never stalling. He uses the modern crime novel the way a master chef uses local, organic foods to create a gastronomic feast—in this case, a classical tragedy with all the fixin’s.”—ShelfAwareness.com

“[Creole Belle] is a wild ride of a novel, but the true joys of Burke’s novels are the exquisitely fine writing and his character’s familiarity with great thinkers and theologians. . . . It is fair to say that Burke truly stands with Chandler and Hammett in the pantheon of great American crime fiction novelists.”—Asbury Park Press

“This tale plays out much like The Glass Rainbow—intimations of mortality; melancholic musing on the pillaging of once-Edenic South Louisiana; cathartic, guns-blazing climax—but, as always, Burke brings something new to the table . . . Dave and Clete may still be unbowed, but they are certainly broken—and all the more interesting for it.”Booklist (starred review)

“Another stunner from a modern master.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Great news for readers who feared that Burke had left Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Robicheaux dying at the end of The Glass Rainbow (2010); Dave and his old friend Clete Purcel are back for an even more heaven-storming round of homicide, New Orleans–style. . . . A darkly magnificent treat for Dave’s legion of admirers.”Kirkus Reviews

“One of the masters, James Lee Burke, has a new Dave Robicheaux novel just out, Creole Belle. Elmore Leonard famously advises all writers to never write about ‘boring stuff’ like the weather, but Burke’s catalog is a direct contradiction to that advice. He writes about Louisiana and the Gulf with such sensual detail about sights, smells, and yes—the weather—that you can skip paying Delta for that flight to the Big Easy.”Detroit News


“Fortunately for us, we can luxuriate in the 500-plus pages of Burke’s sinuous tale before we can decipher this complex puzzle.”Dayton Daily News

“Burke’s fascinatingly conflicted Cajun anti-hero Dave Robicheaux returns.”Dallas Morning News

"Burke has a knack for giving the reader atmosphere through descriptions of architecture, the sights and sounds of overheated New Orleans and southern Louisiana's quirky folks." (Albuquerque Journal)

“When something terrible happens in Louisiana, the only consolation might be that James Lee Burke is inspired to write another Dave Robicheaux novel about it.”—Houston Chronicle

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 3389 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 541 pages
  • Editeur : Simon & Schuster (17 juillet 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B0061Q5MO6
  • Synthèse vocale : Non activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.3 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°40.933 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires en ligne

3.3 étoiles sur 5
3.3 étoiles sur 5
Commentaires client les plus utiles
4 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 En 4eme de couverture.... 31 mai 2014
Format:Broché
... le San Antonio Express News nous offre une pépite de commentaire, succincte, qui fait le tour de l'auteur et de Creole Belle tout particulièrement : "Personne ne transforme le suspense en poésie comme JLB". Tout est dit...
... Toutefois, à l'attention des acquéreurs potentiels de ce pavé (je suis en général réticent à tout ce qui dépasse 350 pages mais il faut que je m'habitue à cette nouvelle mode...) :
Le nouveau traducteur attitré (Christophe Mercier) de Burke semble peu à peu s'améliorer et coller à l'ambiance unique que l'auteur modèle depuis plus de vingt ans sans lasser malgré l'omniprésence d'une famille dite récurrente.
Avec le temps, Dave Robicheaux est devenu (pour notre plus grand plaisir) plus perméable aux arguments objectifs de son ami Clete Purcel et laisse de côté la philosophie suicidaire de la joue gauche tendue après la droite.
Pour faire très court, on dirait que Lee Child et son Jack Reacher sont passés par là. Avec cette fameuse poésie dont parle le San Antonio... du Texas.
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8 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Epais dans tous les sens du terme 29 avril 2014
Par Peraruz
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Trop long (600 pages),une intrigue abracabrantesque avec des pervers absolus,un complot de forces obscures (des pétroliers forcément),une salle souterraine de tortures moyenageuses,un final apocalyptique et interminable...Il y a aussi les moments habituels d'émotion devant la nature de la Louisiane mais ils pèsent peu face au reste.Ceux qui connaissent J.L Burke peuvent s'en dispenser,ceux qui ne le connaissent pas ont tout intérêt à commencer par de précédentes aventures de D.Robicheaux
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5 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 UNE PLONGEE DANS LE SUD 19 mars 2013
Par HEQUEROU
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Belle description du Sud des US, son climat, ses magouilles et ses plaies.
Personnages attachants - situations haletantes et pleines d'imprévus.
Avez-vous trouvé ce commentaire utile ?
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  695 commentaires
127 internautes sur 136 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Agree and disagree 24 juillet 2012
Par P. McGraw - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I'm adding this review in response to a review by "cedwint" who is disappointed that James Lee Burke descends into poetic description, political commentary, and elaborate segues into background stories to help us know his characters better.

I've read a lot of this genre, and I keep coming back to Burke because of his detours. I love to see this poverty-striken part of Louisiana through his eyes; we have even visited New Iberia, Bayou Teche, St. Martinsville, Jeanrette, etc. because Burke's prose is so alluring. We knew it was romanticized, but it is part of the folly of Dave Robicheaux (and probably Burke) to be a bit of a dreamer and to see things through a haze of nostalgia. I love it that he writes about his cat and his three legged raccoon. I love it that he speaks up for the impoverished and the oppressed and gives them dignity in his novels. I love it that he takes on some of the big heavy hitters, the big time criminals - politicians and drug dealers and human traffickers and oil company executives - who are the bullies of modern society, using money and power to keep the average decent citizen powerless. I read Burke because it isn't just plot, his writing takes me to a place I've never been and makes it feel like home. Burke calls out the big guys, scorns their pretensions and heaps contempt on their arrogance.

Creole Belle is not unlike the preceding Dave Robicheaux books, I agree. James Lee Burke has an axe to grind, and I am happy to pay for my James Lee Burke books to help him grind that axe. :-)
75 internautes sur 80 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Dave Robicheaux alive and well in "Belle" 17 juillet 2012
Par NoGoodDeed - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Recovering in the hospital from the life-threatening injuries he received at the end of "The Glass Rainbow" Dave Robicheaux is visited in what seems like a morphine dream by a Cajun singer called Tee Jolie Melton, who leaves him an iPod featuring the song "My Creole Belle," a haunting piece of music which comes to obsess Dave. Upon his release, the New Iberia detective learns that Tee Jolie's sister Blue has washed up dead on the Gulf shore encased in a huge block of ice.

Dave's friend Clete Purcel is drawn to a different young woman, named Gretchen, whom he believes is his long lost daughter, and whom he fears might be the assassin behind the killings of several local criminals with mob ties. Working together Dave and Clete discover connections to a broader conspiracy involving sex trafficking, art theft and unscrupulous oil industry executives.

In "Creole Belle," all of James Lee Burke's trademark talents are on prodigious display: his lyrical prose, his poetic rendering of both landscape and character, and his ability to weave current events seamlessly into the story (in this case the Gulf oil spill.) There has been a distinct sense of finality to these last few Robicheaux novels, as both character and writer age, and I love the elegiac melancholy with which Dave's and Clete's kinship is rendered, which also manages to be celebratory. They (and we, at least while we are immersed in Burke's wonderful words) are hurtling toward the bright light of some great and final truth and each mission seems to bring them closer to redemption, even as violence and darkness threatens to pull them back. Here's hoping they both eventually ring that "belle." But not too soon.

Also recommended: A Stranger Lies There winner of the Malice Domestic Award for best first mystery, it features a vivid desert backdrop that should please fans of James Lee Burke's colorful Louisiana settings.
39 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Bucking the tide of praise: 12 août 2012
Par Nancy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Normally I worship the words James Lee Burke writes and wish each book would never end. His latest, Creole Belle, feels, and reads, very differently to me and I fought feelings of disappointment throughout. The book is preachy, and philosophically morose without the balance of his usual dry and cutting humor. It feels like a dying man's reflections on his disappointing life. There is a noticeable lack of warmth between the main character, Dave, and his wife, Molly. And, having just read a novel by his real-life daughter, Alafair, the character of his fictional daughter does not seem well imagined. In fact, the whole story feels sadly autobiographical, though that could just be my own imagination. Also, while I know some people never change, or grow up, as an RN it seems to me that Clete's liver, if not his unhinged self-destructiveness, should have done him in a long time ago. Dave's indulgence of him has become just burdensome for Dave and wearying for the reader. Finally, somehow I missed reading "The Glass Rainbow" but I really miss the Robicheaux's life on the bayou with the bait shop and Baptiste. There was something healing there, amid the chaos of the story, that was both atmospheric and stabilizing. This "chapter" of the series just didn't thrill me like the others.
57 internautes sur 64 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This book will stay with you until the end of your days 24 juillet 2012
Par Bookreporter - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:CD
The good news is that CREOLE BELLE by James Lee Burke is a new Dave Robicheaux novel. The issue of whether or not there would be another after THE GLASS RAINBOW was in doubt, given its deadly and somewhat ambiguous ending, as haunting a conclusion as one is likely to have read. The great news is that CREOLE BELLE, which is by turns haunting, poetic, violent, somber and inspiring, is one of Burke's best novels to date.

One does not sustain the type of damage that Dave Robicheaux did at the conclusion of THE GLASS RAINBOW without consequence. Thus CREOLE BELLE opens with Dave recuperating at a medical facility in New Orleans, his injuries alleviated with the dangerous mercies of a morphine drip that blends distant memory and fantasy with reality. His perceptions are thus in flux when he receives a visit from a young and beautiful woman named Tee Jolie Melton, a good soul whose life is nonetheless a walking car wreck.

Dave had encountered and attempted to assist her on numerous occasions while both on and off duty as a detective with the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Department. When she leaves him an iPod with his favorite tunes, including "Jolie Blon" and "My Creole Belle," he believes it to be an act of kindness and nothing more. What he subsequently learns, however, is that Tee Jolie and her sister Blue had disappeared weeks before her appearance at his bedside.

After his release from the hospital, Dave begins to receive late-night calls from Tee Jolie, who alludes to being held against her will. Yet these phone calls appear to be a product of his imagination as well. His family and associates are concerned that he is experiencing fever dreams at best and the aftereffects of morphine withdrawal at worst. Dave is haunted by the presence of the woman at his bedside and her disappearance. But he encounters indifference in some quarters and hostility in others when he tries to investigate the matter, even when Blue Melton is subsequently discovered floating in a block of ice in the Gulf of Mexico and bearing on her person a cryptic message about her sister.

Dave's investigation puts him at cross-purposes with Pierre Dupree and Alexis, his enigmatic grandfather. The Duprees are people of wealth and influence, and the tenuous trails of evidence regarding the death of Blue and the disappearance of her sister that slowly lead Dave to the family are only the beginning signs of a series of crimes that are far more sinister.

Clete Purcel, Dave's loyal and dangerous friend, is along to help, even as he expresses concern and doubt about Dave's sanity. But Clete has deadly concerns of his own. Some shady figures in New Orleans have obtained a marker on an old debt that he had incurred and paid decades before, and are bracing him to pay it again. A violent encounter that resolves the matter puts Clete on an intersection path with a legendary contract killer named Caruso, who is in fact Clete's long-lost daughter, Gretchen. Gretchen slowly becomes intertwined in the quieter life of south Louisiana and attempts to extricate herself from her past. Such is not to be, however, as she finds herself drawn back in for one last assignment that has dire consequences for Dave and his family. As Dave, Clete and the Duprees are drawn together into an explosive and horrific climax, the startling and horrible truth behind the Duprees' façade is revealed as a violent justice is administered, though not without cost.

While CREOLE BELLE is told in Dave's familiar and poetic first person voice, it is as much Clete's story as it is Dave's. Clete has always been one of the more colorful and complex characters in American fiction. A dangerous and badly flawed man who is a self-destructive victim of his own excesses, Clete is also as loyal, dedicated and upright an individual as one is likely to find on either side of the divide separating fact and fiction. Such qualities are writ large here, even as evil personified is present and accounted for in as chilling a manner as one is likely to encounter.

While the ending is peaceful, it is nonetheless haunting, and may well answer a question posed by Clete at one point in the book, dealing with reality and fantasy, life and death, and where the lines for each and all of them begin and end. If you only read one book this year, make it CREOLE BELLE. I predict that it will stay with you until the end of your days.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
20 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "Evil does not rinse itself out of the human soul." 17 juillet 2012
Par Luan Gaines - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Burke revisits the essence of his Dave Robicheaux series, the relationship of Robicheaux and Clete Purcel, the "Bobbsey Twins from Homicide", evoking his protagonist's long history in New Iberia Parish, Louisiana, the storied city of New Orleans and the lawman's friendship with PI Purcel, a wild man of great integrity who pushes the boundaries of friendship and the law in this harrowing tale. Creole Belle has all the bells and whistles of a great James Lee Burke adventure, Robicheaux in search of the missing Creole songstress Tee Jolie Melton, even while recovering from a gunshot wound, Purcel on his own collision course with life, recently hounded for an out-of-date gambling marker by thug Bix Golightly and his side man, Waylon Grimes. In spite of wife Molly's cautioning ("You're willing to help people who are corrupt to the core. You turn them into something they're not."), Dave goes on his quest in tandem with the increasingly self-destructive Purcel, who fears the daughter he never knew existed may be a contract killer.

Burke resurrects New Orleans in all its glory, immersed once more in graft and greed post-Katrina, feudal and dominated by wealth and power, with a new twist on its history of slavery, rental convict labor, the White League, the Knights of the White Camellia and corporate plantations. New Iberia Sheriff Helen Soileau turns her back on Robicheaux's outrageous actions until she has no choice but to intervene in a complex tale where a wealthy cabal insulates their nefarious activities through payoffs and graft, the face of true evil masquerading behind genteel extravagance and public-spirited events. The underbelly of the brightly painted façade is ugly and dangerous, both Robicheaux and Purcel diving in, sometimes at cross purposes, but always, ultimately together.

Complete with ghosts of the past on the decks of the paddle-wheeled Creole Belle tempting Dave to join the next world, the violence, brutality and betrayals of both friends and adversaries, colorful characters salt the pages: Count Cardona, a.k.a. Baron Belladonna, Jimmie the Dime, Wee Willie Bimstine, No Duh Dolowitz, the Merry Prankster of the Mafia, but also the more sinister Pierre and Alexis Dupree, ex-Sheriff Jesse Lebeouf, the missing Tee Jolie, her sister Blue and assorted femme fatales. Then there's Gretchen, Clete's daughter, victim of neglect and chronic abuse, pulling at the strings of Purcel's overburdened heart, while making tentative overtures of friendship to Alafair, Dave's daughter; and Dave's belief that Tee Jolie is waiting for him, her songs wafting sad and plaintive on his MP3 player. It's impossible to swim against the tide of an evocative James Lee Burke novel, filled with the wisdom gleaned of hard experience and a great compassion for the human condition, yet another reminder that "The worst thing we can do to ourselves is let other people injure us." Luan Gaines/2012.
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