Bill's Reviews > Black Cherry Blues

Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke
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's review
May 28, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed

This is number three in the Dave Robicheaux series and it won the Edgar Award in 1990.
The book opens with Dave having a flashback about the viscous murder of his wife Annie in the previous book. She and his father appear to him throughout the book. This book is more of a straight detective novel than some of Burke's later books in the series.
Dave runs into an old friend of his from college, Dixie Lee Pugh. Dixie was a rock and roller until he went to prison for a DWI homicide and then he became just a drunk. Dave gets tied in with a couple acquaintances of Dixie's, Dalton Vidrine and Harry Mapes. Dixie tells Dave about two murders committed by Vidrine and Mapes. Dave thinks they have threatened Alafair so he wreaks some serious violence on both of them. The only problem is that after he leaves Dalton Vidrine gets murdered, probably by Mapes. Dave gets arrested and with Mapes testimony it looks like he is headed to Angola. So Dave gets out and decides to go after Mapes and get him for the murders Dixie told him about. Solve a crime so you don't go to jail.
To find Mapes, Dave and Alafair go to Montana. There he runs into Cletus who is working for Sally Dio a small time greaseball. Cletus is living with Darlene Desmarteau whose brother Clayton was one of the people Vidrine and Mapes murdered. The actions of the characters create a convoluted plot accompanied by Burke's quota of violence and murder.
The story is excellent with a frantic pace. The details are left for the reader to discover. Robicheaux's inner dialog is not as persistent as his later books. Burke's gift for description of the landscape and everything else has not yet blossomed. This book is a hard boiled gritty mystery where the plot and the Cajun flavor provide the entertainment.
I enjoyed the book very much. It is the kind of book you sit down to read and forget to get up until you are done. The Black Cherry blues is a song by Dixie Lee Pugh written in an isolation cell.
" You can toke, you can drop,
Drink or use.
It doesn't matter, daddy,
"Cause you're never gonna lose
Them mean old jailhouse
Black Cherry Blues." ( )
1 vote flag wildbill | Jun 5, 2010 | edit | | TwitterFacebook
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