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Heaven's Prisoners (Dave Robicheaux #2)

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,144 Ratings  ·  247 Reviews
James Lee Burke’s second Robicheaux novel takes the detective out of New Orleans and into the bayou as he seeks a quieter life.

Vietnam vet Dave Robicheaux has turned in his detective’s badge, is winning his battle against booze, and has left New Orleans with his wife for the tranquil beauty of Louisiana’s bayous. But a plane crash on the Gulf brings a young girl into his l
Paperback, 308 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by Pocket Books (first published 1988)
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Paul Nelson
May 31, 2015 Paul Nelson rated it really liked it
'Most people think of violence as an abstraction. It never is. It's always ugly, it always demeans and dehumanises, it always shocks and repels and leaves the witnesses to it sick and shaken. It's meant to do all those things'.

Heaven's Prisoners is the second in the Dave Robicheaux series by James Lee Burke and while not as powerful as Neon Rain, it's still a bloody intense story.

Robicheaux has left the New Orleans PD and bought a boat and bait business on a bayou in New Iberia. Now married to
Apr 02, 2014 StoryTellerShannon rated it really liked it
This is a revised review as of 4/14/2013 with images added for flavor which are from the old movie version and while the movie is worth a look I strongly suggest you read the novel first.

After book oneNeon Rainour hero, David Robicheaux (hereinafter DR), has retired from the NOLA police department and opened a bayou fishery up by tapping into his pension. He's also married to his love interest from book one but DR can't avoid a mystery and one stumbles upon him while he's out fishing on the b
Jun 06, 2013 Carol. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of literary mystery and a tolerance for violence

When Burke writes, I see dead people. And sand sharks, and listing planes and oil-slick bubbles of air. The book opens with a small plane going down near Dave's trawler, and Dave and his wife Annie checking for survivors. Its a vivid scene.

This is the second book starring Dave Robicheaux, described by a local stripper as "I know you were a good cop and all that bullshit,' she said, 'but there's a lot of stuff you guys never see. You can't. You don't live in it, Streak. You're a visitor." Unfortu
Mal Warwick
Dec 27, 2014 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing
Many of the very best detective novels are to be found in character-centered series tied to a particular time and place. Think Harry Bosch in Michael Connelly’s contemporary L.A. Sonchai Jitpleecheep in John Burdett’s Bangkok. Quirke in Benjamin Black’s 1950s Dublin. Inspector Thomas Lynley in Elizabeth George’s England today. I could name dozens more. These novels excel in large part because the authors have become so deeply immersed in the cultures surrounding them that they can conjure up the ...more
Aug 05, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of brillaintly well written books
Recommended to Mark by: the movie with Tommy Lee Jones
The second Dave Robicheaux novel had a handicap for me, during the reading I realized I had seen the movie not so long ago which took some of the excitement away as I generally remembered the plot. That said the book contains a far stronger wallop and content which Hollywood would never allow to be filmed.

DR is retired from the detective business and is running a fishing and boat-rental business in Louisiana Bayou country with his beau who he met in the previous novel. They see a small plane cra
Matt Allen
Dec 17, 2014 Matt Allen rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014-reads
Michael Jordan was a career eighty percent free-throw shooter. Which is quite good. For me, Heaven's Prisoners was something akin to watching Jordan shoot a boatload of free throws. Free throws are an essential part of the game--crucial--but, in the end, not why I watch in the first place.

James Lee Burke is multifaceted and very talented. His dialogue is good enough for the price of the ticket itself. And being one who loves a story full of rich dialogue, his makes me smile on repeated occasion
Cathy DuPont
Mar 10, 2012 Cathy DuPont rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy well written books.
Unfortunately, I started reading this Dave Robincheaux series out of order simply because Black Cherry Blues was an Edgar Award winner.

First book was Neon Rain which was great. This was the second book then Black Cherry Blues, the third in the series.

Personally, this one is a favorite. No, changed my mind, Black Cherry; no, Neon; what can I say? They are all so, so good and can see all of them nominated for the award and/or receiving the award.

Dave is one flawed individual but he knows it and
Apr 25, 2012 Robert rated it it was amazing
Perfect imagery paints the scene in the second entry of James Lee Burke’s ongoing Dave Robicheaux mystery series. Often as bad as he is good, Dave Robicheaux proves to be an intriguing character on many levels. He has his demons, and he fights them nearly every day of his life. The supporting characters are as intriguing as the lead, and each one proves far from perfect. And the worst ones help determine a new definition of evil.

Were it not for his strong sense of character and command of the wr
Bill  Kerwin
Oct 28, 2015 Bill Kerwin rated it liked it

In this, the second Dave Robicheaux mystery, Dave turns in his badge and heads for the bayou. Soon the tranquility is shattered, and he is out for revenge. Good effective mystery, and the Louisiana atmosphere is a plus.
Dec 22, 2012 Ctgt rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is my third Dave Robicheaux novel and I am still enjoying the character. Many times these long running series tend to get stale after awhile, but the difference between the first and second book was pretty drastic. Dave is no longer a cop and early on, he and his wife take on an immigrant child. The circumstances surrounding this child push the narrative along and lead Dave down a destructive path driven by his pride, stubbornness, and sense of right and wrong. Some unique seedy characters ...more
Oct 28, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it
Burke’s Robicheaux series is so highly regarded and recommended in the detective genre that I am compelled to start from the beginning of this long series a see what the fuss is about. Heaven’s Prisoners is #2, and I found it hard to put down. Robicheaux is a complex character, wracked with guilt, remorse and depression, stemming from his Vietnam experiences, tough childhood and ongoing battle with alcoholism. Try as he might, he can’t find tranquility, even after retiring from the NOLA force, t ...more
Jul 09, 2010 Mary rated it really liked it
If you have never read a David Robicheaux detective/mystery novel, you don't know what you are missing. James Lee Burke is about to release the 18th novel featuring the Louisiana detective. I have read numbers 15, 16 and 17 and decided to go back to the beginning and read them all in chronological order. This book is number 2 in the series and I really enjoyed it. Burke's descriptions of life in Louisiana are heartbreaking beautiful. This book was written in 1988 long before Katrina's devastatio ...more
This is the second Burke novel I've read and I find myself intrigued by Dave Robicheaux if not Burke himself. Fiction is an art form and there are various philosophies that surround the process of writing, the formation of characters (heroes, anti-heroes, protagonists and antagonists) as well as the stylistic approach to the work itself.

For example: there are writers who see art as unique in that it alone can give us a world as it should be. These writers give us heroes who are unchangeable in t
Luca Lesi
Nov 01, 2013 Luca Lesi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
" C'era stata un epoca nella mia vita in cui la pioggia aveva sempre il colore delle insegne al neon e del Jim Beam. Ora sembrava soltanto pioggia "
Splendido romanzo dove le descrizioni dei tramonti e delle albe nelle distese della Louisiana, tra paludi, piante, animali, suoni e silenzi, diventano capolavori di narrativa contemporanea.
Solo le languide acque del Mississippi, tra un temporale ed uno squarcio di sereno, possono testimoniare quanta bellezza ci sia in queste paludi rese cosi abilment
Robert Lee
Aug 04, 2012 Robert Lee rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Dave Robicheaux, after the events in The Neon Rain had quite his job in the New Orleans PD and has married Anne who was introduced also in The Neon Rain. He runs a bait and boat shop in the bayous of New Iberia and seems to be enjoying his quiet life with hi lovely bride.

So of course trouble has a way of finding him and his problem of just not letting sleeping dogs lie rears up. An plane crashes and he manages to rescue a little girl from the wreckage, everyone else on board is dead. What follow
Jun 13, 2013 Shannon rated it liked it
Burke's writing is wonderful. So descriptive and easy but his plots are heavy and quite a downer for me. This book starts with Dave having a nice easy life which is quickly disrupted by a downed airplane and him saving a young girl from the crash. I realize this story is set in the late 80's and perhaps it's a cultural thing down in Louisiana (a lot less government intrusion?) but I just don't see a couple taking the child and just keeping her - illegal immigrant or not. There's plenty of murder ...more
Dave Riley
Aug 19, 2009 Dave Riley rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
This is Burke's second Robicheaux novel (published 1990)and it shows itself as an early work. More Cajun than the others I've read especially as Dave Robicheaux has to works up a CV to kickstart his fictional existence.

And Robicheaux suffers enough trial and tribulation to fill a tragedian's performances through several life times. Its' the journey and what goes on in Dave's head that's the clincher. These other throw away characters who inhabit the swamps and streets of Lousiana are all such po
Johnny Williams
Mar 16, 2011 Johnny Williams rated it really liked it
Hey after Neon Rain and now this -- I am hooked and in the process of obtaining all of Burke's books. This one is essential in providing background on his characters that were left out of Neon rain. The story moves along well spinning the plot here and there while remarkably giving us a deep insight into life in the backwoods of Louisiana-
A really great sit back and enjoy type book -- great to relax with and soak up the rich vernacular and solid story telling--
buy it -rent it-borrow it-- you wil
Laura (Kyahgirl)
Another great Dave Robicheaux story. I am looking forward to reading more of this series. However, I have to mix in some lighter reading as I go. There is a lot of darkness and pain woven into these stories. Robicheaux constantly balances on the knife edge of his addiction and his self destructive impulse to thumb his nose at every bad ass and bully he encounters doesn't help his health any.
Dennis D.
Dec 31, 2008 Dennis D. rated it really liked it
Robicheaux made his first appearance in “Neon Rain,” but the character not only hits his stride in this second novel, but many of the events central to later stories have their genesis in “Heaven’s Prisoners.” Here, Robicheaux has tired of both the bureaucracy and seediness of being a homicide detective, and left his job on the New Orleans police force. Instead, he seeks a more laid-back life in his childhood home, rural New Iberia, LA. Operating a bayou boat rental and bait-shop isn’t necessari ...more
Justin Olson
Jul 23, 2012 Justin Olson rated it liked it
I read heavens prisoners because I was curious how it compared to the Alec Baldwin movie and they got a startling amount of details right and a lot of the best lines from the book make it into the dialogue. Say what you will about the movie (a bit long and ponderous, possibly miscast) but I found the movie much more engaging after reading the book. They re-arranged quite a bit for the film but I'd say it was 70% there. I honestly got through 3/4 and watched the movie then finished the book and i ...more
Mar 11, 2010 Bill rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Another reviewer said exactly how I feel. That I can't muster up much enthusiasm for Dave Robicheaux, and that I need my mysteries to be
more cerebral.

I had heard James Lee Burke interviewed on BBC's book review podcast, and
the three panelists were positively gushing over him. So I gave him another shot, after being unimpressed with The Neon Rain many years ago.
I made it through more than half the novel before giving up.

I don't like Robicheaux. He's too much of a loose cannon, and there's
lots of
Tim Niland
May 15, 2010 Tim Niland rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010-reads
The second novel in James Lee Burke's long running series of Dave Robicheaux novels finds Dave running a bait and tackle business in the swamps and deltas of southern Louisiana. He's left the New Orleans police force, quit drinking and has remarried. His domestic bliss is broken when a plane crashes near his boat. Diving to investigate, he rescues a young girl being smuggled in from Central America and in inadvertently stumbles across a drug running operation. This knowledge puts him in the midd ...more
Jul 07, 2011 Writerlibrarian rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2007, mystery
Heaven's Prisoners by James Lee Burke.This is the follow up to Neon Rain, Burke's first novel starring Dave Robicheaux. I loved Neon Rain but I just fell for Heaven's Prisoners. Big time. I read it in one sitting. I kept going "only one more chapters" and ended up finishing the novel. It's roman noir at its very best. The characters have layers upon layers, even the third bad guy from the right has layers. I won't give up the plot because it's so part of the novel that giving up one thing feels ...more
Dec 09, 2013 Maddy rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
PROTAGONIST: Dave Robicheaux
SETTING: Louisiana
SERIES: #2 of 20
RATING: 3.25
WHY: Dave and his wife, Annie, are out fishing when a plane crashes into nearby waters. Dave attempts to rescue the travelers; 4 are dead but one child has survived. He and Annie take the girl under their wing and name her "Alafair". Dave stirs up the waters when investigating the deaths; sadly, he experiences a grievous loss of his own. Although there's lots of beautiful writing in the book, I found that the excess of des
Jan 02, 2015 Hayley rated it liked it
Dark and violent but also thought provoking and evocative. Keen to read more.
Ron Adkins
Jan 26, 2015 Ron Adkins rated it really liked it
This one was part of the stack of books I'd started but never finished. I only got about 40-some pages in before putting it down. Not sure why. Perhaps it was the prose style. It didn't grab me right away.

Same thing on the second go-round. It took a little while to find the rhythm and cadence of the speech patterns, and the author's own internal voice. But once I did, the book unpacked itself into a delightful page-turner.

Heaven's Prisoners is loaded with action and suspense. It is a great stor
Jun 17, 2011 Peter rated it it was amazing
Incredibly good. The power of this man's pen to create images in the mind is extraordinary. His descriptive passages in which he inks in the landscape of the Atchafalaya Delta almost bring you the smell of the river and the closeness of the shirt-dampening heat. And then there is his biblical story-telling. Oh, sure, there are tart-with-a-heart sterotypes in the repertory cast which inhabits his novels, but I love Burke's parables of redemption. This is one of the absolute best.
Mar 01, 2012 Mila rated it really liked it
Shelves: also-a-movie
Burke's descriptive writing continues to amaze me in that I can feel the sticky heat in the bayou and can see the people Dave Robicheaux meets through his eyes. I wonder if the movie could possibly compare - I doubt it. Dave's falling off the wagon experience is absolutely frightening. Such NOIRNESS! It's so nice though (ha ha) that Dave is always able to find a woman (or two or three) who loves him and who also happens to be really sexy. What a guy!
Feb 15, 2016 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Dave Robicheaux is a complicated & flawed character. A recovering alcoholic who has left the difficult and soul-sucking work of a New Orleans homicide detective, he has moved back to his childhood home to run a bait & boat rental business. Married now, he seeks the simple solitude of living in the bayou. His quiet life is shattered when he witnesses a small plane crash into the bayou & ends up saving a small girl, Alafair. On inspection of the plane it appears that a small bomb broug ...more
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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)
  • The Neon Rain (Dave Robicheaux, #1)
  • Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux, #3)
  • A Morning for Flamingos (Dave Robicheaux, #4)
  • A Stained White Radiance (Dave Robicheaux, #5)
  • In the Electric Mist With Confederate Dead (Dave Robicheaux, #6)
  • Dixie City Jam (Dave Robicheaux, #7)
  • Burning Angel (Dave Robicheaux, #8)
  • Cadillac Jukebox (Dave Robicheaux, #9)
  • Sunset Limited
  • Purple Cane Road (Dave Robicheaux, #11)

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“But perhaps age has taught me that the earth is still new, molten at the core and still forming, that black leaves in the winter forest will crawl with life in the spring, that our story is ongoing and it is indeed a crime to allow the heart’s energies to dissipate with the fading of light on the horizon.” 1 likes
“I had learned long ago that resolution by itself is not enough; we are what we do, not what we think and feel.” 0 likes
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