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A Dave Robicheaux Novel

A-The Glass Rainbow.epsThis is the 18th installment in the Dave Robicheaux mysteries by James Lee Burke, after Swan Peak (3.5 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2008).

The Story: Dave Robicheaux, deputy sheriff of New Iberia, Louisiana, thinks he may have a serial killer on his hands. He has too many suspects and not enough evidence, plus a nagging feeling that the murders have something to do with the Abelards, a family of local oligarchs that built its fortune on the backs of slaves before the Civil War. Perhaps he murders have something to do with Robicheaux's adopted daughter, Alafair, who has been receiving a lot of attention from Kermit Abelard, ten years her senior. As Robicheaux approaches the truth, the increasing violence of the case grows closer to home.
Simon & Schuster. 448 pages. $25.99. ISBN: 9781439128299

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The Glass Rainbow offers much that is familiar, from the brilliant lyrical wordscapes that capture bayou locations to the incomparably ruthless men and women of low or no conscience who wield power over others and threaten the way of life in Robicheaux's small corner of the world. ... But for all that is familiar here, there are two unexpected plot elements, one of which has the potential for changing everything." Dick Lochte

Entertainment Weekly 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Burke occasionally stumbles (every character we meet seems to end up playing an improbably crucial role in the plot), but the venerable author still writes with the same intensity, and moral avidity, that energizes his equally aged hero. And while there are plenty of villains for that hero to face--including, aptly, a Delta oil tycoon--Burke's finely developed understanding of the human race prevents anything from getting too black-and-white." Keith Staskiewicz

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"James Lee Burke knows his territory. This chunk of Louisiana Cajun country along Bayou Teche doesn't look like much on a map, but the region is rich in history and teeming with the many creatures that flourish in swamps." Marilyn Stasio

Philadelphia Inquirer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Louisiana color shimmers like an oil sheen in The Glass Rainbow. ... Burke, 73, grew up on the Texas-Louisiana gulf coast and has worked as an oil company landman, newspaper reporter, English professor and skid row social worker--a breadth of experience that no doubt helped him create the array of characters in The Glass Rainbow." Paul Davis

Oregonian 3 of 5 Stars
"In the absence of subtlety, the author too often surrenders to his greatest weakness, predictability. ... Burke's characters, pimp and dominatrix alike, invariably speak in sonnets, unleashing overrehearsed reflections that suggest the author no longer distinguishes between interior monologue and melodramatic dialogue." Steve Duin

Critical Summary

Critical opinions of The Glass Rainbow seemed to depend on how many James Lee Burke novels the reviewer had read before. Newcomers were impressed by Burke's lavish descriptions of Louisiana and flawed but honorable characters. However, several reviewers who had read the earlier volumes in the series were less impressed, saying this installment was nothing they hadn't seen before. Yet critics willing to hint at the ending of the book also said it will have more of an enduring impact on the series' main characters than previous installments, implying that this is one that fans of the Dave Robicheaux series should not skip.