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Burning Angel (Dave Robicheaux Mysteries


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About the Author

James Lee Burke was born in Houston, Texas, in 1936 and grew up on the Texas-Louisiana gulf coast. He attended Southwestern Louisiana Institute and later received a B. A. Degree in English and an M. A. from the University of Missouri in 1958 and 1960 respectively. Over the years he worked as a landman for Sinclair Oil Company, pipeliner, land surveyor, newspaper reporter, college English professor, social worker on Skid Row in Los Angeles, clerk for the Louisiana Employment Service, and instructor in the U. S. Job Corps.

He and his wife Pearl met in graduate school and have been married 48 years, they have four children: Jim Jr., an assistant U.S. Attorney; Andree, a school psychologist; Pamala, a T. V. ad producer; and Alafair, a law professor and novelist who has 4 novels out with Henry Holt publishing. Burke's work has been awarded an Edgar twice for Best Crime Novel of the Year. He has also been a recipient of a Breadloaf and Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEA grant. Two of his novels, Heaven's Prisoners and Two For Texas, have been made into motion pictures. His short stories have been published in The Atlantic Monthly, New Stories from the South, Best American Short Stories, Antioch Review, Southern Review, and The Kenyon Review. His novel The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected 111 times over a period of nine years, and upon publication by Louisiana State University press was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Today he and his wife live in Missoula, Montana, and New Iberia, Louisiana.


Burke's outstanding mystery series featuring Cajun detective Dave Robicheaux (e.g., Dixie City Jam, Audio Reviews, LJ 2/15/95) has catapulted him from a well-reviewed if somewhat obscure author to a writer of best sellers. In this latest, Robicheaux becomes involved with locals in a dispute over land that may or may not be home to Jean Laffite's treasure. Contributing to Robicheaux's already tortured conscience is Sonny Marsallus, a hood with a heart who saves Robicheaux's life and is promptly arrested for his trouble. As in In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead (Audio Reviews, LJ 5/1/93), Burke incorporates some quasisupernatural elements that add to the tale's brooding atmosphere. Although Burke is an author whose work is best left unabridged‘his plots can be confusing enough on their own thanks to large casts of supporting characters‘the publisher does a creditable job of keeping the story line intact. Reader Will Patton adds another star to his already superb résumé with a fantastic reading. Recommended for most popular collections.‘Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"

In his latest absorbing and violent adventure, moody Louisiana deputy Dave Robichaux confronts plaited evils: ages-old injustices based on race and class; the legacies suffered by modern-day mercenaries for their sins in Vietnam and central America; and the New Orleans mob. Old Bertha Fontenont comes to Dave for help in claiming the property that was promised her sharecropper ancestors 95 years earlier. Moleen Bertrand, heir of the plantation where that property lies and where Jean Lafitte was rumored to have buried gold, is planning to bulldoze the Fontenont cottages. At the same time, Sonny Boy Marsallus, a local whose escapades in the Guatemalan jungle have given him a reputation for a preternatural ability to survive, has asked Dave to hold on to his journal while he tries to steer clear of some vengeful Mafia-hired hit men. As Bertrand's personal life, secretly intertwined with another Fontenont, surfaces, Dave faces a thug said to have trained Idi Amin at an Israeli jump school and also gets suspended (after losing his temper and causing some serious damage at a Mafia hangout). Burke's lush, humid prose and the controlled, otherworldly aspects of this plot deftly capture the inhumanity of the bad guys and the more common frailties of ordinary folk. It's sometimes hard to keep track of who's good and who's bad in this foggy moral terrain, but the confusion has the feel of real life. Series fans will be glad that Dave's wife, Bootsie, isn't troubled by her lupus condition and will marvel that their adopted daughter Alafair, now a teenager, is old enough to need to know how to shoot. $250,000 ad/promo; 22-city author tour; audio release from Simon & Schuster. (Aug.)

"A passionate, exciting addition to the series that has set new standards in the genre."--Chicago Tribune
"At once engrossing and ... convincing."--Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post

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