Unlike many of his other novels, I read Pegasus Descending
, rather than listening to the audiobook. Reading James Lee Burke
is different than listening to the audiobook. The chosen narrators have really captured the character of Dave Robicheaux. I have those voices in my head now when I read a Robicheaux novel. It works.
A few general observations that struck me about JL Burke's stories: Nothing is ever as it seems. Even the gambler with a vendetta has a twist of her own. Burke doesn't do cardboard characters. They all have depth, history, and substance. The full humanity of Burke's characters is revealed gradually. A look, an unexpected response to a question, or a lack of response. A gesture, failure to make eye contact--all demonstrate flaws that have led or will lead to tragic consequences for one character or another.
The setting has so much depth and vibrancy, it's a character as well. Burke paints a sunset over Lake Ponchartrain or a cluster of live oaks dripping with moss that will have you believing you've been there.
One more thing: he doesn't ignore race. His stories aren't about race, but this is the South, Louisiana, and often race a factor in disputes, politics, in the social landscape. Race still matters. JL Burke doesn't forget that. Pegasus Descending
starts out similar to other Robicheaux stories: unrelated incidents in Dave's life dredges up the past, and they gradually converge into a big problem for Dave. In the end, one thing remains true: In Dave Robicheaux's world, solutions are never easy, and justice is never simple.