James Lee Burke’s iconic deputy from Louisiana, Dave Robicheaux, must face the past that haunts him while pursuing a murder case that hits too close to home in “Robicheaux.”
Robicheaux still hasn’t gotten over the death of his wife, Molly. She was killed in a traffic accident, and he wants answers. He even confronts the driver who rammed into her vehicle, but he swears he was driving the speed limit and she pulled out in front of him and he didn’t have time to stop. A couple of his friends ask for personal favors, and when he begrudgingly obliges, it ends up being problematic when one of them is accused of a sexual assault.
While trying to learn the truth about what happened that evening, Robicheaux also struggles with staying sober, and it seems that every time he tries to interview a potential witness or just wants to get away for a while, the urge to drink isn’t far behind. When he finally decides to indulge, he wakes up with no memory of what transpired earlier. Except the man responsible for killing Molly has been found beaten to death, and the last man to see him was Robicheaux. It would be against his nature to murder someone for revenge, but since he can’t remember, he is secretly terrified that he’s responsible.
The ending is a bit jumbled with who did what to whom with an ever-increasing body count, and even Robicheaux himself is in a bit of a quandary about the entire adventure. In the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. The poetic writing and depth of the major characters balances out everything.
Reading one of Burke’s novels is truly an immersive experience, with every ache and anguish feeling gut-wrenchingly real. It has been almost five years since the last Dave Robicheaux novel, and it was absolutely worth the wait.
Jeff Ayers, AP