Tim Niland's Reviews > Heaven's Prisoners

Heaven's Prisoners by James Lee Burke
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May 15, 10

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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 middle of a nasty collection of crooks, cops and feds all vying for their own ends. After Robicheaux's wife is murdered during an attempt to silence him, he vows to take the criminals and killers down, whatever the cost. Like all of Burke's novels, this is a haunting meditation on violence and its effects. To his credit, the violence in his novels always has consequences, for both the good guys and bad. Everyone is haunted by the depression and anger that it brings and no one escapes unscathed. The character of Dave Robicheaux is a fascinating one, obsessed with regret and remorse over his alcoholism and deeply scarred by his experiences in the Vietnam War, he still manages to find the strength to struggle onward despite the heavy baggage he carries. Nature plays a huge role in this (and all Burke novels I have read) book. The sights, sounds and smells of the Louisiana bayou is described in vivid detail and the natural world becomes as much a character as any of the people involved.
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