Critically acclaimed and bestselling crime writer James Lee Burke returns to Louisiana where his ever-popular hero, Dave Robicheaux, sleuths his way through a hotbed of sin and uncertainty.
For Dave Robicheaux, life in Louisiana is filled with haunting memories of the past -- images from Vietnam, the violent streets of New Orleans, and his own troubled youth. In Crusader's Cross, a deathbed confession from an old schoolmate resurrects a story of injustice, the murder of a young woman, and a time in Robicheaux's life he has tried to forget.
Her name may or may not have been Ida Durbin. It was back in the innocent days of the 1950s when Robicheaux and his brother, Jimmie, met her on a Galveston beach. She was pretty and Jimmie fell for her hard -- not knowing she was a prostitute on infamous Post Office Street, with ties to the mob. Then Ida was abducted and never seen again.
Now, decades later, Robicheaux is asking questions about Ida Durbin, and a couple of redneck deputy sheriffs make it clear that asking questions is a dangerous game. With a series of horrifying murders and the sudden appearance of Valentine Chalons and his sister, Honoria, a disturbed and deeply alluring woman, Robicheaux is soon involved not only with the Chalons family but with the murderous energies of the New Orleans underworld. Also, he meets and finds himself drawn into a scandalous relationship with a remarkable Catholic nun.
Brilliant, brooding, and filled with the author's signature lyricism, Jim Burke's latest novel is a darkly suspenseful work of literature.
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Simon & Schuster
July 11, 2005
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Excerpt from Crusader's Cross by James Lee Burke
It was the end of an era, one that I suspect historians may look upon as the last decade of American innocence. It was a time we remember in terms of images and sounds rather than historical events -- pink Cadillacs, drive-in movies, stylized street hoods, rock 'n' roll, Hank and Lefty on the jukebox, the dirty bop, daylight baseball, chopped-down '32 Fords with Merc engines drag-racing in a roar of thunder past drive-in restaurants, all of it backdropped by palm trees, a curling surf, and a purple sky that had obviously been created as a cinematic tribute to our youth.
The season seemed eternal, not subject to the laws of mutability. At best, it was improbable that the spring of our graduation year would ever be stained by the tannic smell of winter. If we experienced visions of mortality, we needed only to look into one another's faces to reassure ourselves that none of us would ever die, that rumors of distant wars had nothing to do with our own lives.
My half brother was Jimmie Robicheaux. He was a hothead, an idealist, and a ferocious fistfighter in a beer-glass brawl, but often vulnerable and badly used by those who knew how to take advantage of his basic goodness. In 1958, he and I worked ten days on and five days off for what was called a doodlebug outfit, or seismograph crew, laying out rubber cable and seismic jugs in bays and swamps all along the Louisiana-Texas coastline. During the off-hitch, when we were back on land, we hung out at Galveston Island, fishing at night on the jetties, swimming in the morning, eating fried shrimp in a cafe on the amusement pier where the seagulls fluttered and squeaked just outside the open windows.