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The Neon Rain

(Dave Robicheaux #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  21,089 ratings  ·  1,239 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)

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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-book, 2019, thrillers, scribd
The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke is a 2010 Pocket Books publication. (Originally published in 1987)

I suppose it should be downright criminal that I have yet to read one book in this long running, highly respected series, until now.

But there is no time like the present, better late than never and that jazz-

Lieutenant Dave Robicheaux discovers the body of a young black woman floating in the water while he is out fishing. His investigation into her death exposes layers upon layers of criminal acti
Jul 21, 2012 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 dr
Bill Kerwin
Jun 15, 2007 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.
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This first hardcover edition is signed by James Lee Burke

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.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone says too many books, too little time. I'm changing it to too many great writers, too little time. The first book I read by James Lee Burke was Wayfaring Stranger. I read it before it was published in July of 2014 because I received an advance reading copy from the publisher. It was an unbelievably good book and I wanted to read more from this author. So here it is August of 2017 and I have just finished my second book by James Lee Burke. How could I let so many years go by without readi ...more
Cathrine ☯️
After reading six Holland Family novels I just had to start this series.
I began with a bit of trepidation because I knew those books would be a hard act to follow. Here's what happened.

It took me right back to New Orleans which I visited about the time the novel was written.
It opened a hardcore window into a man’s soul as he daily struggles to say no to the siren call of alcoholism.
It brought back all the reasons I participated in anti-Vietnam War marches, though I really had no honest clue
Feb 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 5-0, crime-mystery, 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
May 21, 2013 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
Aug 14, 2014 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
Dirk Grobbelaar
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Enjoy detective fiction?”, they asked.
“Read a Dave Robicheaux book.”, they said.

So I did.

And now I have a problem. I feel both soiled and exhilarated in equal measure.

This is some good detective fiction, but damn is it gritty.

I regret nothing.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Dec 06, 2010 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
A tightly woven and gritty police procedural set in New Orleans. Really enjoyed the main character Dave Robicheaux and will no doubt go on to read more in the series. Robicheaux was a deeply flawed character, plagued by inner demons but had integrity and perseverance.

The mystery component was well delivered I didn't realise how it would all play out and that's always a plus. Loved the setting and descriptions of a lush and humid New Orleans. Well worth a look at.
Tom Mathews
Dec 15, 2015 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?
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
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Not quite sure how to rate this. This book was out of my comfort zone and I'm not sure if I care for a next book in the series, but at the same time I think it's written well. I had some difficulty with the American English as I'm so used to British English.
Dec 02, 2014 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
Wayne Barrett


This is hardcore crime at its best. Detective Dave Robicheaux is one of the good guys at heart, an officer that still believes in justice and the welfare of others, but he is also one bad, bad dude, and if he has to bend the laws a little to bring about justice you better not get in his way.

The only chink in the armor of this novel is that Daves toughness at times crossed the line into what I can only call stupidity... but hey, he's only human, and I would damn sure never say it to his face.
Rebecca McNutt
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A riveting and exciting book from beginning to end, The Neon Rain is an unforgettable crime novel.
A Twitter pal talked me into starting these books and I'm glad she did.

My husband and I went on a trip to New Orleans in 1995, (so pre-Katrina), and I loved it. To this day it was the best vacation we ever had and the very best food I ever ate. We went shortly after Mardi Gras and it was warm and beautiful. We visited the zoo and botanical gardens, had lunch on the banks of the Mississippi, rode a street car through the garden district and had dinner in the French Quarter.

This book took me bac
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
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
Aug 02, 2014 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
My introduction to this author came about three months ago and it was an enjoyable one. The author has a gift. He paints a picture with words and I felt like I was in New Orleans experiencing the sights, sounds, and food.

This is the first novel in the series featuring Dave Robicheaux, a detective with the New Orleans police department. He is battling many demons. He is a Vietnam veteran who often has flashbacks to his experiences during the war. He is a recovering alcoholic. His wife left him f
May 16, 2013 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
I finally finished this book. When I heard there is some sort of fan club for this Dave Robicheaux guy, I was curious to see if I'll join. :-)

It turns out my library overdrive has quite a few of the Robicheaux books in the series, so I started with no 1.

First of all, I must confess that my attention was not the best.

So, as my rating tells you, I enjoyed it, although I didn't find it riveting. If anything, although I don't read this genre often, the story was very familiar: damaged cop, ex Vie
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Neon Rain

This is the first James Lee Burke novel I've read in a very long time. I decided to start at the beginning and re-read all of his novels in order and with this first book I'm not disappointed. I can't wait to start the next book in the Dave Robicheaux series.
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Apr 12, 2016 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
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A very good start to a new series for me.

However, this series is TOTALLY RUINED by an utterly unnecessary and brutal murder in the second book, a cliché, a nasty trick by Burke to generate anger and somehow qualify a far more brutal Dave. Ugh. My advice, stop with the first book here.

As usual with my reviews, please first read the publisher’s blurb/summary of the book. Thank you.

The title seems homage to John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series. Perhaps the houseboat as well.

Dec 03, 2011 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 23, 2014 rated it liked it
July, 2017: Ha! I just read this in 2014, but it seemed so much longer ago. I suppose that is because I've finished half-a-zillion books since then. Nevertheless, it's a short book and I'm going to re-read it now.
* * * * *

This is an old Dave Robicheaux book written in 1987. We have most of James Lee Burke's Robicheaux novels and my edition is a yellowed paperback, different edition from this one pictured. I started reading it again because it was listed in Amazon's 100 lifetime must-read mysteri
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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, receiv

Other books in the series

Dave Robicheaux (1 - 10 of 23 books)
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Articles featuring this book

"When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth"-Sherlock...
75 likes · 138 comments
“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.” 5 likes
“It's a great burden, being one of the good guys.” 4 likes
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