Tuesday, June 7, 2011

JOLIE BLON'S BOUNCE by James Lee Burke

“A love affair with Louisiana is in some ways like falling in love with the Biblical whore of Babylon.  We try to smile at its carnival-like politics, its sweaty, whiskey-soaked demagogues, the ignorance bred by the poverty and insularity of its Cajun and Afro-Caribbean culture.  But our self-deprecating manner is a poor disguise for the realities that hover on the edges of one’s vision like dirty smudges on a family portrait.”


In Jolie Blon’s Bounce, Dave Robicheaux faces the realities “that hover on the edges of one’s vision.”

Robicheaux investigates two murders.  Someone rapes and brutally murders a teenage young woman.  Then someone murders a prostitute.

As is usually the case in Burke’s books, other murders and atrocities abound.

One of the suspects is a chilling psychopath named Legion. 

Even Legion’s name reflects a truth of the story.  Dave Robicheaux’s world has more evil (and as it turns out, more good) than you expect.  The demons are not just one, but legion.

Dave has to face his own demons before he can solve the crime.  “It’s a new day,” Dave tells his wife Boots after Dave has faced down Legion without killing him.  “Evil always consumes itself.  People like us live in the sunshine.” 

His statement is ironic.  There is more to come.

As always, Burke exquisitely describes the setting.  No one could do it better.

The story is an interweaving of what seem to be an almost endless number of stories.  Every story leads to another story, and each of the stories is worthwhile in itself. 

Of the mystery writers I read, I respect two as classical stylists:  Walter Mosley and James Lee Burke.

Jolie Blon’s Bounce is not for the faint of heart.  But if you are up to reading hard-boiled, lyrical writing, I suggest you try this book.


Richard R. said...

I like Burke, his writing is strong, imagery vivid and plotting works for me. I'm not sure where this one comes in the books, though.

Joe Barone said...

I don't know exactly what you mean when you say "where this one comes." So far as I can tell, the copyright on the hardcover edition of this book was 2002.

I like Burke for the same two reasons you listed. I read a lot of him and then didn't read him for quite a while. I am slowly catching up.