Saturday, December 15, 2007

Blown Away by The Tin Roof Blowdown

Yes, I'm back to my dark side with James Lee Burke's latest novel, highly recommended by my friend Maryellen who seldom steers me wrong. I used to read Burke's Dave Robicheaux series when Alafair was still a little girl. Then, tired of the violence, I left him behind for a while. Robicheaux's daughter is in college now and the real Alafair, James Lee's daughter, is writing a great mystery series of her own. Burke has not lost his edginess as he's aged. In fact most critics agree that The Tin Roof Blowdown is one of his best.

Be prepared if you're not familiar with Burke. The mood is always sinister, muddy, and slimey. The language is foul but honest. Even the good guys have bleak histories and are always one step away from sliding back into the muck. New Orleans on the uncertain days leading up to Hurricane Katrina and its horrific aftermath is a major player in this novel of despair. Looters looking for just enough food and money to stay alive raid the wrong house at the wrong time in the wrong place. Detective Robicheaux, brought in from New Iberia Parish to join the NOPD in their investigation, uncovers so much more than a simple crime.

Burke has never been more politically outspoken in his fiction. There is no concealing his love for New Orleans and his disgust at the response of our government and our nation to the tragedy that transpired there. Often fiction does a better job than straight news reporting at depicting the truth and this book is a tough read for those who can't handle the truth (apologies to Jack Nicholson). Burke forces us to look behind the curtain of frivolity that surrounds the party city to the exteme poverty, racism and lack of opportunity for those who don't work on Bourbon Street. He forces us to examine our perceptions of good and evil, revenge and betrayal, brotherhood and love.

Read by a crusty, sinister sounding "good ole boy" named Will Patton, this book's atmosphere is considerably enhanced by the audio performance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Sally,
I'm glad it lived up to my recommendation!