Kathleen Hagen's Reviews > Last Car To Elysian Fields

Last Car To Elysian Fields by James Lee Burke
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's review
Jan 02, 2012

Read in December, 2011

Last Car to Elysian Fields, by James Lee Burke, b-plus, borrowed from National Library Services for the Blind, but available for purchase from audible.com.

This book was not one of Burke’s best Robicheau books, but that may also reflect the fact that Robicheau’s third wife, Bootsy, passed away a year ago, and his daughter, Alafair, is now in college, and Dave is living alone.

Father Jimmy Dolan is a priest who is very untraditional while serving in a conservative church. He deplores the spoilage of property around Louisiana by oil companies, which puts him in the crosshairs of land developers and oil companies. One night he is severely beaten, and Dave with his friend, Clete Purcel, confront Dolan's tormentor in an Uptown bar. The evening ends with Purcel in jail and Robicheaux warned to stay out of New Orleans. Meanwhile, back in his home town of New Iberia, Three teenage girls are killed in an accident in which alcohol was purchased by the under-age girls at a drive-through daiquiri shop. When the owner of the shop is brutally murdered, Robicheaux suspects that the father of one of the girls, himself a prominent physician, is the murderer. Yet the trail seems to lead away from him. And when Dolan asks Robicheaux to investigate the presence of a toxic landfill near New Orleans, the answers seem to lie in both the past and present. The past concerns a legendary bluesman who disappeared decades before, while the present involves a coldly maniacal assassin named Max Coll, summoned to New Orleans to murder Dolan. Robicheaux finds that his investigation and duty lead back to New Orleans, where he must confront not only the troubles of his friends but the darkness of his own past. Burke retains his poetic descriptions of the river and in this case of constant rain. But in this book it is hard to keep track of what Dave is thinking at any given time as his suspicions change at the drop of a hat, and much of his behavior seems unfocused and dangerous. But we see the mysteries solved and the murderers caught, and Dave and Clete survive to battle evil another day.

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