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Swan Peak (Dave Robicheaux #17)

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  6,270 Ratings  ·  423 Reviews

TAKING A MUCH-NEEDED BREAK from the gritty, hurricane-ravaged landscape of their Louisiana home, lawman Dave Robicheaux, his wife, and his buddy Clete Purcel head to a friend’s Montana ranch, where they hope to spend their days fishing and relaxing. But a storm of trouble descends on their wilderness retreat when two college students are found brutally murdered, and the th
Paperback, 592 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Pocket Books (first published July 8th 2008)
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Dave Robicheaux, his wife Molly, and his best friend Clete Purcell are vacationing in Montana following the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This novel lacks the passion and rage that was characteristic of The Tin Roof Blowdown. Burke's writing is lyrical, the characters are rich and compelling, the scenes lush and descriptive. I still found this to be an enjoyable read but not one of the best in the series.

Clete finds himself haunted by the ghosts from his past ... specifically Sally
Nov 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The latest Dave Robicheaux mystery. If you enjoy novels about middle-aged, reformed alcoholic, Catholic guilt-plagued, Cajun detectives who live with more ghosts than you can count and who periodically relive their Viet Nam nightmares - and whose PI (i.e. private investigator AND politically incorrect) best friend is even more troubled - and trouble - then this is for you.
Patricia Williams
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another really good James Lee Burke book. He has lots of descriptions and lots of characters but the stories are always very detailed and very good. This character, Dave Robicheaux, is my favorite of the characters he writes about. This author is always good for a great mystery. I kind of figured out the "who done it" but of course, there was a twist.
James Fitzgerald
Dave Robicheau and his buddy Clete Purcel are, once again, taking on evil guys. Swan Peak has an a good story that get lost along the way but which come together in the climax. Burke has a gift for words and his descriptions of everyday life becomes confusing in the story telling. It has so many sub plots and characters that you cannot relate to anyone with the exception of one of the bad guys, a bull who works in a prison, who becomes a good guy through the love of a good woman.

The climax of th
Dec 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, b
A few spoilers below!

Blurb........Detective Dave Robicheaux returns in another adventure. Only this time, he travels from New Iberia Parish to the wilds of Montana. Swan Peak is the sequel to Black Cherry Blues, the third title in the Robicheaux series. In it, Clete Purcel has to confront ghosts from his past, namely the fact he poured sand in the fuel tanks of an airplane owned by Sally Dio, resulting supposedly in Dio's death. The story also deals with Jimmy Dale Greenwood, an escaped convict
George Polley
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Living inside a maelstrom haunted by ghosts. James Lee Burke is one of my favorite writers. His prose is eloquent, quotable, and graphic. He views the world from the perspective of the marginalized and maimed and forgotten, some of whom struggle to escape an ugly karma and live lives that are happy and relatively tranquil. Some of them make it, some of them don't, and some of them are left with questions that are never really answered.

In this book, and in many others he has written, the protagon
"Swan Peak" is a novel that displays James Lee Burke's rich character portrayals, detailed descriptions of the natural surroundings in western Montana and the author's ability to write a suspenseful story.

Dave Robicheaux, wife Molly, and friend Clete Purcel are vacationing in Montana after going through the devastation of hurricanes Rita and Katrina in New Orleans.

When two double murders take place, the local sheriff is overwhelmed and Dave and Clete offer their services.

Ridley Wellstone, a weal
Doris A.
Aug 07, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading Dave Roubicheaux books by James Lee Burke since he began writing them (and other Burke books, too), but this one left me uncharacteristically cold. Set in and around Missoula (including my own Idaho Panhandle town, which he managed to misspell), Swan Peak felt like a book written around an idea. For anyone who misses it in the intervening 395 pages, he spells it out: "... if there is a greater lesson ... it's probably the simple fact that the real gladiators of the world are so ...more
Dec 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: crime
I have been a JLB fan since Black Cherry Blues in the 80s. I haven't been keeping up in the last few years, but picked this up. It was like running into an old friend after quite a few years. Burke has aged like fine wine, and this love poem to the west is a perfect example of why people can't get enough of Burke's writing. Style: poetic, smooth, like riding a horse with a sweet rocking-chair gait through country both known and new. Content: a rip-snorting story, complete with more than enough r ...more
Dave & Molly Robicheaux with Clete in tow go on an extended vacation in the Montana wilderness - and, of course, end up assisting with a murder investigation with all the usual violence, mayhem, and life-threatening events. This predicable, plot scenario is one often found in a long-standing mystery series for both books and TV shows - the vacation mystery adventure. Kudos to Burke as he made this one work.
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Bluedaizy by: favorite author
Shelves: fiction, new-orleans
James Lee Burke is a KING! Most authors tend to get a bit tired after six or seven novels, but not Burke. He knocked this one out of the ball park! I read it waaaaay too fast and now I'm afraid I'm going to have to wait another year for the next one. heavy, heavy, getting depressed, sigh....
Wasn't my fave..
And it's late in the series
(Wish the person who gave it to me told me that... It's book 16!!!!)
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dark novel peopled with characters of torment, each carrying some kind of horrific past event or time as a defining point to their persona. A novel of folks that drink too much, philosophize grandly, are sometimes violent, and—not surprisingly—at times seem to feel sorry for themselves. Or stop just short of feeling sorry for themselves, with the very fallible good guys managing to overcome both great external and internal odds to successfully deal with the very very fallible bad guys, who whi ...more
John Marius Gjersvold
Denne boken er så god på så mange plan at jeg vet ikke hvor jeg skal begynne, så jeg sier bare: les den!
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
JLB's writing has a narcotic effect on me , i can't get enough of it .
Clete Purcel is one of my favorite fictional characters.
Dark , violent , gritty and so beautiful in the same time..loved it.
June Ahern
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder how, behind the mind's eye, James Lee Burke envisions the beautiful, suspenseful and horrific murders and killers without falling into madness. His writing brings the reader to right into the scene in all sensory ways. In fact so much so I have to stop at times to take it all in before continuing to the next big scene. I am a fan of the Dave Robinsheaux police detective mysteries.

Usually the crimes and solving takes place in Louisiana but "Swan Peak" is in Montana (I've been in both sta
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-modern
c 2008. My first thoughts when recapping this book is that it contains far more philosophy than usual. There are also a few POVs which I don't recall having been so aware of in other books in the series. Happily, none of Robicheaux's family members are in trouble this time. The descriptions are hauntingly beautiful although bits of the book are way more depressing than normal. This is far more than just another who dunit and although, uniquely, the culprits are more self evident than in previous ...more
Mar 22, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It would be rude to suggest that Burke wanted to write off a trip to Montana on his taxes so based this story there - but there doesn't seem to be any other explanation - unless this is the Robicheaux swan song.

The characters were out of place, the story rambled and I skipped entire chapters without missing a thing. The premise is actually a good one and I liked many of the characters but book didn't hold together. There were too many side trips into each character's psyche. Burke used a lot of
Kent Lundgren
Money aside, I wish I could write like Burke. Any good author can sketch a scene you can see (and Burke can do it better than most, with tremendously evocative descriptions) - but he can also take you into someone's mind with a few words.

Witness this opening paragraph about a primary character in this series:
"Clete Purcell had heard of people who sleep without dreaming, but . . . he could not think of sleep as anything other than an uncontrolled descent in a basement where gargoyles turned some
Susan Mangigian
Sep 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Lee Burke is one of my all time favorites. His books are hardly light, though. They do make me smile occasionally, but they show a darker side of life and a much rougher existence. This books starts out with this paragraph: Clete Purcel had heard of people who sleep without dreaming, but either because of the era and neighborhood in which he had grown up, or the later experiences that had come to define his life, he could not think of sleep as anything other than an uncontrolled descent in ...more
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, mystery
3.75 stars. It's always pleasant to listen to Will Patton's Southern accents, and he does a bang up job with Clete. Can you believe this one had a happy ending? Burke is a good writer, but this one went over the top a little with its descriptions of rape and mayhem. And maybe I'm getting a little tired of the formula. There's another wealthy family for Dave to hate, plenty of beautiful female victims, tons of rage from Dave, who still hasn't lost his desire to drink after all these years. Poor f ...more
May 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: haveacopy
I really do think that these books in a series should be read in order. Or at least the first few should be. It detracted when I didn't know things that the author assumed that I knew. I also didn't like it when things were repeated over and over. Constantly saying that one character had a whiskey and a beer back. Why say it that precise way EVERY DAMN time the guy had a drink? Those are the types of things that just ruin a book for me. And the guy who ended up being kind of the good guy in the ...more
Moved right away from this sort of book, after doing too many of them, at some point. Wondered early on if I should have trusted that distance, but glad I didn't. Burke manages to make a happy ending so bleak that it remains moving. And I totally forgive how long it took him to get to the chase.

You either like Burke, in which case this will be to your taste, or you don't. To me he's like Connelly with class. Somebody will be offended by that. Sorry.
Dec 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished this while in Seattle for the holidays. Good read with plenty of horrific situations and characters, some who benefit from harsh times, some who have to do the "dirty boogie" and go to the wall. Any Robicheaux novel that has Clete Purcell in it has prime written all over it and Montana comes pretty close to Louisiana when Burke is telling the tale. This is a good one...but you knew that.
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5. Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel in Montana, which was fine but I miss New Iberia ard New Orleans. As always I love Lames Lee Burke. I will read every Robicheaux book that comes out :).
John Machata
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid. Classic. Burke. Too much violence, philosophizing, and moralizing, but wonderful lyrical passages and human attributes penciled so well as to make the soul squirm!
Dave Robicheaux and Clete are in Montana on vacation. It quickly turns into a trip into Hell.
Joseph (Sonny)
Can't wait for another Robicheaux, I swear that every time I read one I can smell the bayou. Burke is a master.
Lynn Kearney
3.5 + I always seem to forget what a good writer J.L. Burke is and how gripping are the stories he tells. Robicheaux is a very well drawn character.
Valerie Andrews
As always, James Lee Burke tells a tale of damaged people living in trying circumstances, meeting others who carry their own burdens. Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel are fishing in Montana, post-Katrina, when trouble finds its way to them. As with most of the challenges they face, the problems can be traced to some poor decision one or the other has made along the way.

A wealthy family exerts tremendous power over the people in the small towns around Swan Lake. The intersection of their dirty de
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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
More about James Lee Burke...

Other Books in the Series

Dave Robicheaux (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • The Neon Rain (Dave Robicheaux, #1)
  • Heaven's Prisoners (Dave Robicheaux, #2)
  • Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux, #3)
  • 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)
  • Sunset Limited

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