James Lee Burke discussion

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Do all the novels end the same way?

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message 1: by Tyler (new)

Tyler (alienlanes) I've read two James Lee Burke novels and they have pretty unsatisfying conclusions. Robicheaux and Purcell end up killing all the bad guys, pretty much all of them. I mean the writing is nice but that is more secondary to a good story for me. Killing off all the bad guys with no consequences seems to be a pretty weak way to conclude a story. I realize novels aren't meant to be completely realistic but this stretches it to the point of ridiculousness. So do most or all of the other novels end the same way?


message 2: by Phil (new)

Phil (octlow) No, I have read most of his books and to me they all have a "bitter-sweet" ending. Never completely satifying to the desire but laced with a reality you don't want to accept.
The Robicheaux novels are fun, but read White Doves in the Morning or some of his Holland novels also. Just a thought.


message 3: by Phil (last edited May 05, 2011 02:32PM) (new)

Phil (octlow) Tyler wrote: "I've read two James Lee Burke novels and they have pretty unsatisfying conclusions. Robicheaux and Purcell end up killing all the bad guys, pretty much all of them. I mean the writing is nice but..."

Tyler,
Killing the "bad guys", solving the mystery, and being macho are the minor plots. What is the major plot with James Lee Burke? Burke writes about peoples pain, his own included. He writes about the difference between the beauty of the south and the pain of the people who live in it. If there is anything to savor in Burke's books it is his philosophy of life in the south.


message 4: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 5 comments Burke's plots tend to be a bit muddled, I think, and a lot of them end with violence. Violence is a theme and it's a theme common to the South. Sometimes its explicit; sometimes it's not. Burke's use of violence is consistent with his use of place.

Jackson Burnett
Author of The Past Never Ends, a legal mystery
The Past Never Ends


message 5: by Dermott (new)

Dermott Hayes | 3 comments Tyler wrote: "I've read two James Lee Burke novels and they have pretty unsatisfying conclusions. Robicheaux and Purcell end up killing all the bad guys, pretty much all of them. I mean the writing is nice but..."
Don't most 'whodunnits?' end with the bad guys getting their comeuppance? For some odd reason, the title of an old blues song comes to mind, 'It ain't the meat, it's the motion', which, now that I see it in print, suggests something more than its' lurid first impression. The 'meat' of Burke's stories lie in the setting, the culture and the history surrounding each plot. Inevitably, there will be a murder to solve but between that and its resolution, Burke's stories, especially the Dave Robicheaux novels are about the quest for pure truth in a flawed world, a quest whose resolution will never be, by definition, satisfactory.
Curiously, the last two Dave Robicheaux novels, The Glass Rainbow and Creole Belle, could, at a stretch, be seen as two parts of one novel. The Glass Rainbow is based on a true story but, in its telling, Burke explores familiar themes like how history's choice of a quick profit can produce a monster, lurking in time, for a chance to bite back.
But Burke's Quixotic quests aside, it's the humanity - flawed, frail, cracked and ailing - in the Robicheaux series, that makes them most appealing. And in these two novels, more than all the others, Robicheaux dwells on death and mortality. You can almost hear that whistle blowing on the steam paddle boat...


message 6: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 5 comments Dermott wrote: "Tyler wrote: "I've read two James Lee Burke novels and they have pretty unsatisfying conclusions. Robicheaux and Purcell end up killing all the bad guys, pretty much all of them. I mean the writi..."

Very well said, Dermott. Burke does a nice job of showing how a crime in the present has its roots in the past and his often murky resolutions suggest the consequences continue into the future.

Jackson Burnett,
Author of The Past Never Ends


message 7: by Clifford (new)

Clifford Terry (tezjito5) | 2 comments I have read just about all of the books in the Dave Robicheaux series and just finished The Glass Rainbow. This time the ending just leaves you hanging which leads you to the next book. I usually like to leave a bit of time before reading the next book so I can savour what I just read but now I am chomping at the bit to see what happens next.


message 8: by Lainey (new)

Lainey (dearylane) | 3 comments I can't believe it - I was looking for his latest Holland book when I came upon "The Glass Rainbow". I don't believe I've read it - but I'll soon find out.


message 9: by Beverly (new)

Beverly Laude (neesie315) | 1 comments All of his books are what I would call "dark", but they all have something to teach us or entertain us. I love them because they are set in southern Louisiana/New Orleans. He really captures the feeling of that area. Yes, there is violence but the books delve into Dave's inner demons. And, we all have those.


message 10: by Phil (new)

Phil (octlow) Beverly wrote: "All of his books are what I would call "dark", but they all have something to teach us or entertain us. I love them because they are set in southern Louisiana/New Orleans. He really captures the ..."
Beverly, I could not of said it better. The Robicheaux Series are a paradox. The serene Southern lifestyle and natural beauty against the seamy underworld of organized crime, individual demons and violence. I think that Burke brings out the power of these differences using a mystery novel and a mans life.


message 11: by Lainey (new)

Lainey (dearylane) | 3 comments I'm interested in 'who' you would choose to play Dave Robicheaux? Cletus? Alafair?

I used think John Goodman was the PERFECT Cletus - though maybe too type cast.

Lately, I'm thinking Gary Sinese for Dave. Maybe Helen Hunt for Bootsie...
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message 12: by Phil (new)

Phil (octlow) Elaine wrote: "I'm interested in 'who' you would choose to play Dave Robicheaux? Cletus? Alafair?

I used think John Goodman was the PERFECT Cletus - though maybe too type cast.

Lately, I'm thinking Gary Sines..."


Some years ago, the movie In the Electric Mist was made with Tommy Lee Jones as Dave Robicheaux, and John Goodman was in the movie but the bad guy. I don't remember if or who the character Cletus was played by if at all. As usual the movie did not do the book justice and was fair at best. I'm not sure how anyone would ever be able to take the emotions and beauty conveyed in Burke's books and put on film... just doesn't seem possible to me.


message 13: by Phil (new)

Phil (octlow) On second thought Dennis Quaid would probably make a good Robicheaux,


message 14: by Phil (new)

Phil (octlow) Elaine wrote: "I can't believe it - I was looking for his latest Holland book when I came upon "The Glass Rainbow". I don't believe I've read it - but I'll soon find out."
Elaine, Glass Rainbow is the second most recent Robicheaux novel. Burke's latest is Belle Creole, which takes up right where Glass Rainbow leaves off.


message 15: by Clifford (new)

Clifford Terry (tezjito5) | 2 comments Alec Baldwin was my favorite Dave Robicheaux but Tommy Lee Jones was good also. I can see Dennis Quaid probably making a very good Dave Robicheaux since he has already played a Cajun detective in a previous movie.


message 16: by Phil (new)

Phil (octlow) In fact Dennis's brother Randy Quaid would even make a good Cletus. Big, funny and crazy.


message 17: by Lainey (new)

Lainey (dearylane) | 3 comments LOVE IT! The Quaid brothers! I didn't know JLB's books had been made into films. . .


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