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The Neon Rain (Dave Robicheaux, #1)
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The Neon Rain (Dave Robicheaux #1)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,279 Ratings  ·  683 Reviews
Detective Dave Robicheaux has fought too many battles: in Vietnam, with killers and hustlers, with police brass, and with the bottle. Lost without his wife's love, Robicheaux's haunted soul mirrors the intensity and dusky mystery of New Orleans' French Quarter -- the place he calls home, and the place that nearly destroys him when he becomes involved in the case of a young ...more
Paperback, 285 pages
Published 2005 by Phoenix (first published 1987)
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Pat Bevins Middle of Chapter 5, as he drops Annie off after the garden party, Dave is thinking about drinking and desiring to do it " a run down Decatur or…moreMiddle of Chapter 5, as he drops Annie off after the garden party, Dave is thinking about drinking and desiring to do it " a run down Decatur or Magazine Street saloon where I didn't have to hold myself accountable for anything and where my gargoyle image in the mirror would be simply another drunken curiosity like the neon-lit rain striking against the window" [pg 99 of my Pocket Books ed.](less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 23, 2016 Candi rated it really liked it
This first installment of James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series was my introduction to this author, and I was quite pleased with the experience! Undoubtedly gritty and often quite violent, The Neon Rain still managed to surprise me with a generous amount of almost poetic prose that was completely unexpected. The sense of atmosphere is almost dripping off the pages at times and really drew me into the New Orleans setting. "The streetlamps lighted the misty trees along the esplanade on St. Char ...more
Oct 30, 2014 StoryTellerShannon rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: elaine avalakeotes
This is a revised review as of 4/14/2013 with some images to add flavor.

It's like a lot of detective novels set in the 1980s except the real standouts are the fact that it's New Orleans and the author gets that particular sub culture. Burke has an elegant prose and his main character, David Robicheaux, is engaging.

Robicheaux is a 50-something hard boiled detective who survived the Vietnam War yet is still haunted by it and thus turns to drinking (though it becomes evident later he was drinking
May 19, 2014 Kemper rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery, 5-0, 2011
I know an author setting a book in a city known for its food like New Orleans would really want to get the regional flavor across by having the characters chow down on the local cuisine, but do they really eat that many po’ boy sandwiches down there? Hell, I’m from Kansas City, but I don’t eat barbecue every day.

James Lee Burke kicked off this long running crime series back in the late ‘80s. Dave Robicheaux is a recovering alcoholic, a Vietnam vet (Yet again confirming my theory that all tough
Apr 14, 2016 Algernon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

Somebody wants New Orleans Police Lieutenant Dave Robicheaux dead. A look at his past arrests is not very helpful in pinpointing the culprits, but it gives the readers an early indication of the sort of hard-boiled, gritty and dangerous journey we are about to embark on:

I went through my case file and didn't see any connection. I had a whole file drawer of misery to look at, too: a prostitute icepicked by a psychotic john; a seventeen-year-old runaway whose father wouldn't bond him out of
Dec 04, 2013 Carol. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of detective fiction, southern gothic
Recommended to Carol. by: Anthony Vacca ? Was it you?

One of the movies on endless repeat with my best high school friend and I was The Big Easy with Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin. That and a couple trips to New Orleans are the sum of my Louisiana experience, and yet, when I read Neon Rain I feel as if I'm there, ghosting alongside Dave Robicheaux as he investigates. Burke's writing is extremely evocative, in the very best way for the detective-centered mystery. A strong since of place, of the cultural gumbo of New Orleans and the surrounding rural
Paul Nelson
Sep 12, 2014 Paul Nelson rated it it was amazing
Two months ago I’d never even heard of James Lee Burke never mind the renowned Dave Robicheaux, a New Orleans’s detective who is the main character in a twenty book series and there’s also a couple of films about the guy. I would have remained in this completely unaware state had it not been for my praise of Will Patton’s narration of Doctor Sleep, a fellow blogger recommended his narration of the Robicheaux series, so I looked into it and lo and behold, I find three of my favourite authors hold ...more
Tom Mathews
Dec 18, 2015 Tom Mathews rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: hard-boiled detective fans
Dave Robicheaux is your quintessential hard-boiled detective, struggling with anger issues, inner demons and alcohol. When he's not out bashing bad guys, he is waxing poetically about the meaning of life and who makes the best beignets (PS: The answer is Cafe du Monde). The only thing that makes him different from other great tough guy detectives is that he speaks with a Cajun accent. Who doesn't love that?
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Dec 06, 2010 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Fans of Dark, Gritty Thrillers
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
I know of an acquiring editor who ran a board for new authors who not only counted Burke a favorite, but recommended him as an example of a beautiful prose style. From the almost 60 pages I got through, I can understand that.

I didn't abandon this novel because I thought the writing anything less than top notch. The dialogue seems authentic and distinctive, there are descriptions of Louisiana that are evocative and lyrical coming through the first person narrative. This isn't rated two stars bec
Leon Aldrich
Your prosecuted, tried and convicted. The court sentences you to be exiled for five years on a deserted island. No TV. No YouTube. No Britney Spear's poster (a hardship for many of you).

You are allowed a Kindle and a hand cranked device to keep it charged. Then you are told, "Pick one author!"

Vince Flynn. T. Jefferson Parker. Lee Child. Stephen Cannell. Robert Crais. Michael Connelly. John Sanford. All these authors pass through my head in an instant. What the hell. How can I only be allowed one
It's like a lot of detective novels set in the 1980s except the real standouts are the fact that it's New Orleans and the author gets that particular sub culture. Burke has an elegant prose and his main character, David Robicheaux, is engaging.

Robicheaux is a 50-something hard boiled detective who survived the Vietnam War yet is still haunted by it and thus turns to drinking (though it becomes evident later he was drinking before he went to war). He has since joined the police force as a detecti
Dec 03, 2013 Contrarius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Mmmm mmmmm, I do love me some James Lee Burke. I'm a huge fan of beautiful prose, and Burke provides that here in large helpings. If you want tons of atmosphere, lots of poetic phrasing, and a loving sense of place, you can't do much better. And then there's the characters with their regionally flavored dialogue and, in audio format, accents to enjoy. IMHO Burke's books are especially enjoyable in audio, because of all the regional flavors and the natural cadences inherent in his writing. It's a ...more
May 22, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
This is a hard one to call. It was the first James lee Burke offering I had read, and I certainly have mixed feelings about it. There's no doubt that Burke can write very well; he develops interesting characters and creates some brilliant dialogue for them. It could have been a really good book but had some flaws that spoiled it for me, just a little. I say flaws for want of a better word; perhaps shortcomings would be a better term. I am perfectly aware that other people might not be bothered b ...more
Paul  Perry
In the first of James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series, the title character is a homicide detective in New Orleans. He is an on-the-wagon alcoholic Vietnam veteran with a failed marriage who lives on a houseboat, so a pretty standard detective novel protagonist.

Right from the start it is apparent that the writing is of a high quality. The smell of the Louisiana heat rises from the page as the first-person narrative intersperses the rich descriptions with internal thoughts and triggered memorie
Aug 05, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of well written mystery books
Recommended to Mark by: the movie with Tommy Lee Jones
This is the novel I read after "Donna Tartt's Goldfinch" and it was meant as some light relief reading after reading such a massive and complex book. Well that was me looking all stupid. If anything Mr Burke does know how to write a complex story as well, and he brings the Bayous and New Orleans to life on paper. It is my biggest failure of of not visiting the Big Easy before Kathrina and somehow the writer does bring that lost world back to life.

Dave Robicheaux, a brilliant name, visits a man o
Dec 03, 2013 Writerlibrarian rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2007, mystery
Gripping and raw. The lead character wears his scars (psychological mostly) on his heart and finds that stepping into an hornet's nest and doing the right thing is not the way to live a long and secure life in New Orleans.
Robicheaux keeps you reading, you want to see what happens and how he will end up on the other side of the tunnel at the end. Burke doesn't cheat the reader. Set in the dark underbelly world of bad guys, drug trafficking lords of New Orleans, it's raw, bleak but you keep readin
Mal Warwick
Oct 10, 2014 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing
The Neon Rain was the first of the twenty books in James Lee Burke’s award-winning Dave Robicheaux series of detective novels, and an auspicious beginning it was! Burke evokes the clammy, mist-filled atmosphere of his native Louisiana and the Cajun culture of his protagonist with great skill.

Robicheaux, a New Orleans police detective, has stumbled across the body of a young African-American prostitute in what seem to be suspicious circumstances. He was far outside his jurisdiction but can’t resi
Cathy DuPont
Mar 02, 2012 Cathy DuPont rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Detective fans
Unfortunately, I read Black Cherry Blues first, then this one and I really like to read character series in order. Too late to complain now. Should have done better research.

Liked this book a lot and had to go through a thought process to determine four or five stars. Wish I could have halfs because I would have upped it to four and one half stars. Settled on four after waffling for a few minutes.

I really liked the book though and it set up the Dave Robicheaux character with more background inf
I'm new to the legion of James Lee Burke fans (thank you Cathy DuPont). But all that means, is that I still have all these wonderful Robicheaux novels for my reading pleasure, a thought that fills me with distinct satisfaction. For now I'll review the Dave Robicheaux series one by one, until I've gone through the lot and compile a review for all as is my usual habit.

I suspect I have an edge as compared to most Burke fans. I have lived in the French Quarter so aptly described in the Burke novels.
Julie Davis
Mar 21, 2014 Julie Davis rated it really liked it
I almost felt like putting "foreign lands" as a tag on this book as Burke writes so lyrically about New Orleans and Louisiana that it is like a travelogue. A travelogue through a very gritty, dark place though. This noir style tale of police detective Dave Robicheaux's struggle with personal demons, both internal and from organized crime in the city makes a compelling tale. Even more surprising than the lyrical descriptions though, is the underlying Catholicism that defines Robicheaux's characte ...more
Feb 03, 2015 Karl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I bought about five copies of the hard cover and passed them out to my friends. This is an amazingly good book. Got Mr. Burke to sign my copy. Now I kind of wish I would have kept a couple as the first edition sell for between $300 and $500 dollars in good shape, but at the time I enjoyed the book so much I wanted to have every one I know read it.
What a wonderfully evocative title, sadly I think the title was my favourite part of the book.

This felt like the middle ground between something I love and something that leaves me cold, a mixture of Dashiell Hammett or one of those great classic writers of the hardboiled, black as night, noir school of crime and James Patterson or one of the many, many, many generic crime thriller writers out there lining up to shift some units no matter how average to mediocre their novels are.

I liked Dave Rob
Oh James Lee Burke – you make me want to jump on a plane and fly to New Orleans and drive directly to the French quarter and have a beignet dipped in a cup of scalding hot chicory coffee and then chase all that down with a fifth of Jack Daniels and then wash down some Dr.Peppers and oyster Po Boy sandwiches and then go for a refreshing swim in the Gulf. Oh yeah, and also chase some skirts and some really really bad guys and then punch my fist through a wall, and drink even more Jack Daniels and ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Eric rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this, and I'm not entirely sure why I didn't. I love detective stories, roguish anti-heroes, and New Orleans. I loved Will Patton's narration. But something about the story just seemed to fall in the uncanny valley -- it was too unbelievable to be realistic, but too realistic to accept as a noir or camp style decision. Also -- and this may have contributed to it feeling "too" realistic -- it seemed overwritten and unnecessarily descriptive at points. I couldn't even finis ...more
Bill  Kerwin
Oct 28, 2015 Bill Kerwin rated it liked it

Great Louisiana atmosphere and a good deal of violence in this, the first of the Dave Robicheaux mysteries. Entertaining but not compelling.
Ed [Redacted]
Dec 09, 2011 Ed [Redacted] rated it liked it
New Orleans Police homicide detective Dave Robicheaux's life changed forever as a result of his discovery of the body of a young prostitute while fishing in the backwoods of Louisiana. His hardheaded refusal to quit when he's far, far behind causes him no end of grief. Up against a vast conspiracy he has no hope of overcoming,he continues, none the less, to make truly idiotic decisions that don't always work out well. Robicheaux is an alcoholic and the passages describing his struggles with the ...more
Kathleen Hagen
The Neon Rain, by James Lee Burke, narrated by Will Patton, A. produced by Recorded Books, downloaded from

This is the first in the Dave Robicheau series. I am doing a happy dance that Recorded Books is republishing these books now narrated by Will Patton. He is the only person who should do Dave Robicheau books, in my opinion. And he did a good job with this first entry in the series. It’s a gritty hard-hitting book where we first meet Dave Robicheau and his partner, Cletus Purcell.
Donna Davis
This was a birthday present, and I can't think of a better one. Brilliantly written, it introduces the reader to Lieutenant Dave Robicheaux, a complex, flawed, fascinating character. Other reviewers say that what is not said is as important as what is. The deft skill exemplified here is a real pleasure to witness, and I kept disturbing my husband, who reads almost exclusively nonfiction and was reading an IT printout, to tell him things I noticed. I could NOT keep it to myself, I was so impresse ...more
I have been trying to listen to this book on audible for about 2 years now. I was finally able to get past the first few chapters and I must say, James Lee Burke is not for me. I perceived his writing style as very dark, heavy, and artistic in a way that I could not connect with. The vein of the story was lost amongst moments of internal dialogue and reflection that did not add to story. I found myself feeling that the mystery wasn't very interesting and the reasoning behind the initial murder w ...more
Nov 19, 2009 Kercelia rated it it was amazing
Since I have been following James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series for several years now I decided that it was time for me to go back to the beginnings. The Neon Rain is one of the earlier Robicheaux novels, and it gave me some insight into Dave's earlier life and why he made some of the choices that he did. In The Neon Rain I learned that there were definite reasons why Dave, being the dedicated lawman that he is, does not always go "strictly by the book." In this case he is working to solve ...more
Mar 18, 2016 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unhelpful review warning/disclaimer: Everything has to start somewhere, and that's true for any book series, particularly one that, apparently, now accounts for 20 books published over 25 years, with some at-least-somewhat-related family cross-over/tie-ins.... And, this, apparently, is where it started for Dave Robicheaux. Unfortunately, for me, I met Burke (the author) and Robicheaux (the protagonist) and Holland (the spin-off) and the story arc(s) only somewhat recently, late in the series/evo ...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)
  • Heaven's Prisoners (Dave Robicheaux, #2)
  • 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)
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“The evening sky was streaked with purple, the color of torn plums, and a light rain had started to fall when I came to the end of the blacktop road that cut through twenty miles of thick, almost impenetrable scrub oak and pine and stopped at the front gate of Angola penitentiary.” 6 likes
“One day you'll have a quiet heart.” 3 likes
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