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Purple Cane Road
James Lee Burke
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Purple Cane Road (Dave Robicheaux #11)

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  3,976 ratings  ·  154 reviews
Dave Robicheaux has spent his life confronting the age-old adage that the sins of the father pass on to the son. Dead to him since his youth, his mother, Mae Guillory, has been shuttered away in the deep recess of Robicheaux's mind. While helping out an old friend, Dave is stunned when a pimp looks at him sideways and asks if he is the son of Mae Guillory, the whore a bunc ...more
Audio, 10 pages
Published December 1st 2000 by Sound Library (first published 2000)
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Lewis Weinstein
As I think about this book, the words "too much" come to mind. Too much plot. Too much description of people and places. Too much disconnect between the story and the emotions. And way too much gratuitous violence.

Here's an example of an overdone description of minor characters ...

>> In the shade his skin had the bloodless discoloration that an albino’s might if he bathed in blue ink. He wore steel picks on the fingers of his right hand and the sawed-off, machine-buffed neck of a glass bo
Cathy DuPont
How can James Lee Burke get any better? I have no idea to that question.

In this series, number 11, Dave Robicheaux wraps up some loose ends. Those loose ends have been woven throughout the series which I've been reading in order for a few years.

Funny to me is when I've read other books in a series (counted 15 different series I'm reading) I always feel like I've "come home" when I begin reading Burke.

In my first review of the Dave Robicheaux series, I was totally ignorant of the fact that Bur
Burke, one of my favorite writers, has an extraordinary gift for the use of similes. He can evoke the atmosphere and scenery that sets him way above other writers in the mystery genre. Despite the brutality, violence and corruption, the story intrigues, and Burke continues to develop the character of Dave Robichaeux, ex- New Orleans cop and now homicide detective for the New Iberia Sheriff’s department. The integration of the past and its influence on the present is a recurring theme in Burke's ...more
John Stonehouse
If you want to spend a little time in another place, another world, few writers can take you there like James Lee Burke. But probably his greatest asset is his lyrical, poetic language. This book, set in southern Louisiana simply drips with atmosphere. It's dark, moody and complicated, like all JLB's books. The story that drives the narrative is perhaps good, rather than great. But what sets him apart from other crime writers is the humanity in his deeply flawed characters. There are no happy en ...more
I love Burke! There is such fluidity to his writing. There is a sadness and poetry in the way he describes everything in Louisiana, through the eyes of Robicheaux, yet it's his home and it's where his love lives, and you get the sense that no other place in the world would have these people, they are that depraved and unique.
Kelsey Hanson
I love the bayou settings that James Lee Burke uses for his novels. He describes the South as a place of mystery and blends together the different elements of the culture of the area very well from the food to the dialect to the many different creole aspects. This book features a variety of different unique characters and like most of his other novels you get two mysteries for the price of one. This one deals with a mystery very personal to Dave, the death of his mother as well as a very believe ...more
Police detective Dave Robicheaux learns about the murder of his mother - who had deserted him years ago but he did not know until recently that she apparently had been killed outside of a New Orleans nightclub by two cops - 35 years before. He's determined to find her the story unfolds he learns lots of secrets and finally the truth. Was a bit too typical mystery for me; although I loved the fact it was Louisiana based.

Robicheaux first hears it from a pimp eager to trade information
He's had a hard life, that Dave Robicheaux, and there seems to be little in New Iberia to help lighten him up. Purple Cain Road sees him adding another bruised skin to the onion of his life as he investigates the death of his mother, beaten and drowned in a muddy puddle by a couple of crooked New Orleans cops in pay of the Mob. Dave sees both finally receive the justice they deserve, but not by his hand. He never kills, but always seems to ensure the Grim Reaper successfully visits the object of ...more
Burke has written several novels featuring an on-going character by the name of Dave Robicheaux, an alcoholic cop in the (sort of) backwoods of Louisiana. Like many books of this ilk, each one contains a cast of return characters such as the wife, the daughter, the side-kick, the best friend, etc. and they don't necessarily have to be read in the order in which they were written (although sometimes bits and pieces can get confusing if one of the characters refers to something that happened in a ...more
c2000. Evocative, atmospheric and mesmerising as usual. I am biased as I do enjoy most of Mr Burke's offerings although I have learnt to space them out a bit as there is not a terribly huge amount of lightness of mood. Interesting back story to Robicheaux helping to round out his character. The twins in this book have left an almost indelible memory. FWFTB: murky, preacher, inexorably, squalid, redemption (features a lot in Burke's novels) FCN: Dave Robicheaux, Clete Purcell (one of my favourite ...more
Purple Cane road was written in 2000 and was then called James Burke's finest novel. I loved it It's a very good book certainly in his top three, wait I've only read four.
This story begins with a look into the past at Dave before he began the twelve step program. New Iberia resident, Vachael Caramouche did the states work and was referred too as the electrician never as the executioner. In those days the chair traveled from temporary housing at Angola. Visiting parish prisons with the chair on
Susan Hulstine
Wow! What a powerhouse of a novel and what an amazing writer. I've just started reading Js Lee Burke books and am so impressed by his writing style. Wish I'd found him sooner! This book is heartbreaking, inspiring, devastating, yet interwoven with a gold thread of hope. He describes the south Louisiana setting where you can see the moss hanging off the cypresses in the swamps and smell the salt water from the ocean. His style reminds me of Hemingway - simple and beautiful. But Burke always has a ...more
This is for my mystery book club. I thought it was an OK book. What kept me reading was I wanted to know what happened to Robicheaux's mother. I really didn't get into any of the characters and thought they were for the most part cardboard cut out stereotypes of the the good cop/bad cop/cop gone nuts with what he's seen; and the politicians were the same. The modern day man hunt and even the killer with a conscience did little to hold my interest. I am going to try a few more in the series to se ...more
This is one of my favorite books with Dave Robicheaux. In each book he is featured, he has several murders to solve while dodging assassins, exposing dirty cops/politicians/upstanding rich old guys [this is Louisiana remember] and he still has time to solve a cold case!!! In this book he has 2 cold cases and one of them is the disappearance/murder of his mother. And then there's always his friend, Clete, the misfit ex partner hanging around! [I find him very likable!]

Dave is the type of guy you
I like the writing style of James Lee Burke. He can really paint a picture with words and he has a way of turning a phrase that is simple yet stylish. Another novel in his Dave "Streak" Robicheaux series, this book just left me drained. Dave continually makes bad choices, at the cost of his family and friends, and even just reading about it wrings me out. Burke paints a beautiful picture -- unfortunately it's a picture of Paradise Lost. I'm not sure I'll want to read another Robicheax novel unti ...more
Dewayne Stark
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Greg Z
When this book first came out in 2001, I bought a copy through a book club. I never read it. I remember trying to, and I remember dragging it around through several moves to different states, but I just couldn't get it to it. A few months ago, I picked up Swan Peak at a library book sale for a buck and thought I would try Burke again. I very much liked Swan Peak (a four star review), so I bought my second copy of Purple Cane Road. This time, I enjoyed it, and finished it within a few days. To me ...more
I enjoyed the setting and Burke evokes the richness of southern Louisiana quite nicely, but this was yet another reminder of why I rarely read mass market mysteries. From what I can gather, every contemporary crime novelist (and his protagonist) over the age of fifty (yes, I know the math is wrong) is a recovering alcoholic Vietnam vet battling violent impulses and a convoluted sense of justice. Meh.

Criticisms aside, I'd buy another on of Burke's books if I was in an airport...probably.
Russell Blake
Incredible imagery, wonderfully three-dimensional characters, understated dialogue, plot twists galore... James Lee Burke is indeed a master of his craft, and one of the best, if not the best, living fiction writers of our time. This should be required reading for every aspiring fiction writer - it's like going to school. I won't belabor the multitude of glowing reviews that have more than adequately conveyed just how good this is. Five stars, and highly recommended.
Nancy Brumback
This was not my favorite Dave Robicheaux novel. I had just finished Light of the World before I started Purple Cane Road, so not being a mystery fan, probably back to back James lee Burke is not a good idea for me anyway. But one aspect of the mystery was re what happened to Dave's mother, and i was very glad about the way that turned out for him. Some child molestation in this one, a gruesome subject I know, but it was handled well and lent a lot to the plot. Dave is married to Bootsie in this ...more
Carey Haslam
Burke's characters are fascinating to me, and his writing style flows effortlessly from simple spoken words to sophisticated plots. I really enjoy when an author uses colloquial phrases, and references and it doesn't get tiresome or forced. Purple Cane Road is another outstanding mystery novel from James Lee Burke, and It's a pleasure to read.
I listened to an abridged version of this, which I never do if I can help it. The narrator was Will Patton, who, even though he is a fine narrator, I'm used to Mark Hammer, who is the perfect Dave Robicheaux. Also, I wish Burke would hold back on using the word "loins" so much. All this may be why I only gave it two stars.
A convoluted story concerning Dave Robicheaux's (An Iberia
Parish Sheriff's detective) efforts to save a condemned worman
from execution and to find his mother's murderers. Burke's
descriptive prose is tiring and the story is needlessly violent. Also
Robicheaux does some incredibly stupid things.
James Lee Burke is always a good read the way he captures life in Bayou Teche and New Orleans is so beautiful in his unvarnished descriptiveness. His main character is so human in his frailities, and revealed strengthens, don't pass one of theseput but best read in order.
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
I liked this book a lot, and I think Burke is a brilliant storyteller. I also feel that his novels are a bit billowy; in a good way, but still. They're expansive, sweeping, always stopping to smell the flowers or watch a pair of calico kittens playing in the bushes before someone punches someone or someone gets shot at by a psycho sniper. His books are full of good lawmen (and women) behaving badly and crooked cops behaving even worse. These are as much character studies and social documents as ...more
I find myself increasingly cynical about the level of chaos in Dave Robicheeaux's life. How many more psychopaths can he piss off? How many times will his long suffering boss let his behaviour go? How many more times can Clete Purcel survive serious injury? Seriously, it just isn't believable.

Then I remind myself that I'm reading fiction, not biography.

I will certainly read more of these books as I enjoy the writing and find the characters engaging, however far fetched they might be. I guess I
Mike Manos
Escape reading at its best.

Dave Robicheaux, a Lousiana cop, is suddenly confronted with his identity and his past when he learns by chance that his mother had been murdered, from then on his investigation to find the real truth about her ordeal during the last moments of her life, brings about a lot of Louisiana characters, landscapes, foods, colors and tastes shown as vivid portraits by the author who benefits from his thorough knowledge of the culture and way of life of some particular areas of the state, all told
I've come to think that formulaic is not a terribly useful descriptor for books. You can be formulaic and terrible, like say James Patterson, or formulaic and awesome like James Lee Burke. Burke's formula is fairly simple. Hero Dave Robicheaux faces a mix of crooked New Orleans cops, mobsters, arrogant rich people, and the odd crazed right winger. These folks are screwing over the locals and Robicheaux investigates, usually beating down three or four people, with the help of his violent friend C ...more
This came close to being a four star review. Burke is a brilliant writer of fiction, one of the best, but I have had a belly full of grown people who appear to be in a constant state of anguish over their dead parents. I groaned when I saw where this one was going.

But in true Burke form, he managed to do it better than anybody else, and introduced enough colorful scenes and characters to make it well worth the ride. And he also showed ways in which a good cop can turn bad by creating some distur
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James Lee Burke is an American author best known for his mysteries, particularly the Dave Robicheaux series. He has twice received the Edgar Award for Best Novel, for Black Cherry Blues in 1990 and Cimarron Rose in 1998.

Burke was born in Houston, Texas, but grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. He attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of Missouri, receiving
More about James Lee Burke...

Other Books in the Series

Dave Robicheaux (1 - 10 of 20 books)
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  • Heaven's Prisoners (Dave Robicheaux, #2)
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The Neon Rain (Dave Robicheaux, #1) The Tin Roof Blowdown (Dave Robicheaux, #16) Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux, #3) The Glass Rainbow (Dave Robicheaux, #18) In the Electric Mist With Confederate Dead (Dave Robicheaux, #6)

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“I returned to New Orleans and my problems with pari-mutuel windows and a dark-haired, milk-skinned wife from Martinique who went home with men from the Garden District while I was passed out in a houseboat on Lake Pontchartrain, the downdraft of U.S. Army helicopters flattening a plain of elephant grass in my dreams.” 0 likes
“I told myself I did not have to live as I once did. I did not have to re-create the violent moments that used to come aborning like a sulfurous match flaring off a thumbnail.” 0 likes
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