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Black Cherry Blues

(Dave Robicheaux #3)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  12,512 ratings  ·  467 reviews
Haunted by the memory of his wife's murder and his father's untimely death, ex-New Orleans cop Dave Robicheaux spends his days in a fish-and-tackle business. But when an old friend makes a surprise appearance, Robicheaux finds himself thrust back into the violent world of Mafia goons and wily federal agents. From the
Mass Market Paperback, 366 pages
Published December 1st 1990 by Avon (first published September 13th 1989)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  12,512 ratings  ·  467 reviews

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May 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of deeply flawed detectives and southern noir
Shelves: awards, mystery, male-lead
Sometimes I wonder if you can really like the Robicheaux series. It isn't easy witnessing a man struggle with his demons, both internal and external, to root for him and watch him both succeed and fail, sometimes in the same breath.

Dave isn't a simple person, which is one of the attractive aspects of him as centerpiece to a series. He knows his weaknesses, fights them and yet is unable to avoid following his pattern, like Sysiphus hauling the boulder again and again only to watch it roll
James Thane
Black Cherry Blues is the third entry in the Dave Robicheaux series, and it remains my favorite of all of James Lee Burke's novels. As the book opens, Robicheaux, a former New Orleans homicide detective, is now running a bait and boat-rental shop in the Louisiana bayou. He's a recovering alcoholic who remains haunted by the brutal death of his wife, Annie, who was murdered by drug dealers. (Parenthetically, no man in the history of crime fiction has had worse luck with wives than poor Dave ...more
Cathrine ☯️
Rather timely 27 years after publication I’d say. Up in Montana, Star Drilling is going after hundreds of millions of dollars in oil—only problem is, its under pristine wilderness and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Shades of Standing Rock. Twenty years ago that same company had a faulty platform out in the ocean that killed Dave’s father. He’s putting his nose where some don’t think it belongs and threats to his six year old little girl are just one of the consequences. That brings out
Paul Nelson
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Black Cherry Blues is the third in the Dave Robicheaux series and a familiar pattern starts to emerge of a man shoving his nose where it has no place being, that generally puts both his life and everyone close to him in potential jeopardy. Thankfully Robicheaux doesn't fall of the wagon this time, so there's no depressing plummet into alcoholism but he does have some particularly annoying traits. You can't help thinking, your adopted little girl and the couple that run your business when you're ...more
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
This novel is best suited for people who like a darkness of human character intertwined with an engaging clue trail amidst melancholy yet beautiful writing.

Robicheaux is back and not too soon. This time around he's recovering from a horrible loss in his family, getting over his binge with alcoholism and wouldn't you know it but the poor guy tries to help an old college friend and gets framed for murder.

What's a detective to do?

Apparently, drive to Montana with his foster daughter.

Nancy Ellis
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first part of this book almost convinced me to give up on this series. It's pretty depressing and frustrating to see Dave Robicheaux get himself into such apparently hopeless situations. This is also set soon after his wife Annie has been murdered, and Dave sees her in his dreams frequently, as well as the ghost of his father. Meanwhile, Dave beats up two thugs and is arrested the next day for the murder of one of them. Naturally, he didn't kill the guy, but the evidence against him is ...more
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book won the Edgar Award in 1990 and it is easy to see why. I have read several of the books in the Dave Robicheaux series and this may be my favorite ... so far. There are few authors that I have encountered who have the ability to set the scene so that you feel like you are actually there. His descriptions of a bayou, a lake, the mountains, the rain, even the local foods are masterful. As are the characters in his stories. A great story teller in every sense.

In Black Cherry Blues
Dave Robicheaux does not know when enough is enough. He keeps sticking his nose in where it doesn't belong and in the process puts those he loves at risk. He's like a dog with a bone and he will not let go. Sometimes I think the alcohol fried his brain. He may be sober now but he is always one drink away from a drunk. Actually I don't know if he could really be described as sober. He seems to live in a perpetual dry drunk.
He may not be that likable as a character, but James Lee Burke's writing
Sep 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Finally, a modern author who isn't afraid to take his time and use language as it is meant to be used in a novel! Patterson tells a hell of a story...but Burke makes the read wholly worthwhile and rewarding.

"I believe remembers the girl he thinks he should have married. She reappears to him in his lonely moments, or he sees her in the face of a young girl in the park, buying a snowball under an oak tree by the baseball diamond. But she belongs to back there, to somebody else, and
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edgar_winners
This hardcover edition is signed by James Lee Burke.
Cathy DuPont
Feb 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noir-favorites
Wow! This is the first time I've read James Lee Burke but have wanted to a long time since this book won the Edgar Award. I like to follow those books which are nominated and/or receive an Edgar.

Must check it out but thought this was the first in the series, and I hope so because just read something which said, 'it just keeps getting better.' That's quite a compliment since this book was a great read with all the elements I, personally, love in a book.

The characters were described with clarity,
Sep 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Audiobook: James LeeBurke is a master. His writing is vivid, the characters well-drawn, and the plots intriguing. Dave Robicheaux is an ex-New Orleans cop whose-partner, Dixie Lee, now a “lease-man” for an oil company thinks he has overheard two other lease men discussing burying a body. Unsure as to what he heard and what to do about it, he seeks Dave’s help. In the meantime Dave chain-whips a bad guy (he really should have known better) and the guy turns up dead so Dave is facing a murder ...more
Steven Godin
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: america
Burke is a master of crime fiction, with not a weak book in the Dave Robicheaux series is a testament to his skills as a writer. He delves that little bit deeper with his characters, with themes of redemption, family ties, guilt and ghosts from the past, mainly set in a sweltering Louisiana. In places they don't even feel like crime novels, but rather standard fiction. But when the action does take place he doesn't hold back!. And in Dave's buddy Clete Purcell, we have one of the best supporting ...more
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Black Cherry Blues

Another winner by James Lee Burke! I didn't find this one quite as good as the first two but it was close. I'm hooked on this series and I love James Lee Burke. He is a one of a kind writer!
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Black Cherry Blues is my second “go round” with James Lee Burke and the ever complex Dave Robicheaux. My first novel by the author left me with a mixed bag of reactions. However, I’m very glad I came back for a second pass— and picked what just might be the best one of the series, according to some reviews. I’d believe it.

This book is delicious in so many ways. First, the story is well plotted and dense with complexity. Burke takes us from Robicheaux’s native Louisiana and Cajun world to
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Burke is a stunning poet of the gritty noir world. Don't get me wrong, the scenes of truly gratuitous -and otherwise - violence are appalling. And it really is too bad about the gratuitous stuff. But I haven't before so deeply enjoyed a book that repelled me so much in the first few pages.

The book began with the murder of Dave Robicheaux's wife, replayed in his dream/nightmare. Her blond hair and white, white skin contrasting with the blood sprayed around the bed, but the pale beauty of her was
Jane Stewart
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
I felt down and depressed until the very end. But I loved the author’s phrases and the art of his writing.

Plot: the main guy Dave is framed for a crime. He does not do strong or smart things to save himself. I was worried and feeling down during most of the book. If the hero is going to be framed, then I want a hero I can root for, feel hope for, and enjoy watching him give it to the bad guys. But this was not. However, I know many readers like this type of fiction. For me at least the ending
In previous reviews of the Dave Robicheaux series (#1 and #2) I spoke about having an edge in that I've lived in Southern Louisiana. The prose, the descriptions hit me squarely in the gut. I knew what Burke was describing having smelt, tasted and felt that world through recollections of my own.

In this book, for the first time I saw Burke as most readers see him...I read about a world I'd not visited as Robicheaux visits Montana and thereby could rely only on what I was given to me by Burke. It
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The phrase "genre writer" is a term sometimes used as if it were a venereal disease, and in some cases a deserving critique. but there are the writers that occupy a narrow patch of literary turf that elevate the norm and transcend the genre itself. Black Cherry Blues is a dazzling story. Burke has created such complex and fully rendered characters that we will overlook the fact that our protagonist Dave Robicheaux is not a very likeable character:I almost pickup a little of John D. MacDonald's ...more
Michael Martz
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
James Lee Burke is the novelist that just keeps on giving... to me. I picked up his first in the Robicheaux series about a month ago, loved it, thoroughly enjoyed the 2nd, and just completed the 3rd, 'Black Cherry Blues'. It's equally good. Burke's literate, lyrical prose in the tough 'crime' genre is a breath of fresh air, his characters are wonderfully developed and memorable, and the star, Dave Robicheaux, is as complex a personality you'll encounter. This series, so far, is simply fantastic. ...more
May 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
JLB's first of many in the Dave Robicheaux series. Just to let you know, should you be unfamiliar with James Lee Burke, two of the DR series have been made into motion pictures. The first starred Alec Baldwin and Eric Roberts in Heaven's Prisoners--followed the book to the letter. Secondly, Tommy Lee Jones starred as DR in In the Electric Mist with the 'Confederate Dead'; I must say it was an outstanding movie, a bit of a surprise.

I have listened to all of the Dave Robicheaux series now, oddly,
Erik Bledsoe
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I often don't follow all the plot twists in mysteries, and this one is no exception. But I don't read Burke to try to figure out who killed who and why. I read Burke because he writes beautifully. Black Cherry Blues contains a set piece that could be pulled out and dropped into The Nick Adams Stories. And that final paragraph, oh my goodness, he's giving Gatsby a run for its money.
Tom Swift
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I could read this author all day, every day.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Burke is the kind of author that makes you give a smug grin to all those who denigrate genre fiction and suggest them they have no idea what they are missing. The picturesque description of Louisiana is the most obvious example of Burke's talents but his effective dialogue and excellent characterization show off a more holistic skillset. In my reviews for the first 2 books in Dave Robicheaux series I had sung my fair share of praises for his writing but this time I will talk about the ways it ...more
Nov 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I can't quite decide whether to give this book 4 stars or 5. 4.5, maybe. I love Burke's writing. This is some high class sh*t here, folks.

Even though this is a crime/mystery/thriller type of book, it remains thoughtful and contemplative throughout. Several violent events do happen throughout the book, but most of them happen off screen. This is a book that focuses more on Dave's interior experience than on the events surrounding him.

This is also a book full of obliqueness and hidden depths. We
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the best mysteries I have ever read, hands down. It has everything - great dialogue, complex characters, interesting bit parts, occasional humor, great descriptive passages, tension, danger, darkness, and depth. It is just very well written all the way thru. The hero is Dave Robicheaux, a Cajun and former Big Easy cop. He is as interesting a paperback detective as I have ever seen. Like most of them, he is tough and cool when necessary, but unlike a lot of them, he is a fully ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
I was disappointed in this book. In fact, I almost abandoned it. I had the sense that I've read and enjoyed a number of Robicheaux novels, but I'm thinking not. There is a level of violence and threatened violence here, much of which seems gratuitous and is really too much for me.

The commitment to atmosphere is done to the point of being suffocating. And then there are the dreams. How many freaking dreams does a person have to read? Good grief!

Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-noir
One day at a time, easy does it, I told myself. Don't live in tomorrow's problems. Tomorrow has no more existence than yesterday, but you can always control now. We live in a series of nows. Think about now.

I have a couple of PI/detective series that I stay with and this series has been added to that list. I become easily bored with series' that rely solely on the case and much prefer a character study surrounded by a peripheral mystery. It's only the third entry but the writing has been great
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Really outstanding stuff. Burke takes the detective/crime novel to a highly literate level without losing the gritty subject matter. Realistic characters, fantastic dialogue and a simple but engrossing plot make this story really jump off the pages. Burke shifts the bulk of the story to Montana, which was a refreshing change from the Louisiana setting in the first two books. Burke knows both areas intimately, and the descriptions of the settings are wonderful.

Robicheaux wants nothing more than
Vannessa Anderson
Dave Robicheaux is in a bad way. His wife and his soul mate, Annie, had been murdered leaving Dave to raise their young daughter, Alafair. Dave is a dry drunk who is living with depression and guilt and trying to get by the best way he knows how. An old friend shows up on his door step asking Dave for help in clearing his name. While Dave is helping his friend, he is framed for murder; Dave is abused and jammed up by the police. Dave’s best friend Clete Purcell is on a rampage because a woman ...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

Other books in the series

Dave Robicheaux (1 - 10 of 22 books)
  • The Neon Rain (Dave Robicheaux, #1)
  • Heaven's Prisoners (Dave Robicheaux, #2)
  • 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)
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“I believe remembers the girl he thinks he should have married. She reappears to him in his lonely moments, or he sees her in the face of a young girl in the park, buying a snowball under an oak tree by the baseball diamond. But she belongs to back there, to somebody else, and that thought sometimes rends your heart in a way that you never share with anyone else.” 24 likes
“Colored or not, we all pick the white man's cotton.” 6 likes
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