Robicheaux by James Lee Burke is a grim new crime novel in the long running series built around troubled Louisiana Sheriff's detective Dave Robicheaux. Still grieving over the recent death of his wife in a traffic accident, Dave retreats back into alcoholism and haunted memories of his own brutish past acts.
The novel is a swirling narrative of entanglements among a cast of hard edged, deeply flawed characters circling around Robicheaux. Smarmy, corrupt politician Jimmy Nightingale. Sordid, dirty cop Spade Labiche. Dissolute author Levon Broussard. Obese, terminally sick mobster Tony Nemo. Tough, Western-dressing detective Sheri Picard. And Dave's longtime soul brother, Clete Purcel, a hulking, brooding time bomb of violent potential.
Into this volatile mix comes a truly hideous new presence: a doughy, red lipped hit man nicknamed Smiley, whose childlike thought process as he executes his victims is blood chilling. With each new body, Robicheaux struggles to find a connection behind the seemingly random death list.
As always, the author's lyrical descriptions of the Louisiana bayou country are beautifully done. The pastoral portrait of weather and terrain stands in mute contrast to the fruitless cycle of human venality and violence that runs through Robicheaux.