In the waning days of summer, 2005, a storm with greater impact than the bomb that struck Hiroshima peels the face off southern Louisiana.
This is the gruesome reality Iberia Parish Sheriff's Detective Dave Robicheaux discovers as he is deployed to New Orleans. As James Lee Burke's new novel, The Tin Roof Blowdown, begins, Hurricane Katrina has left the commercial district and residential neighborhoods awash with looters and predators of every stripe. The power grid of the city has been destroyed, New Orleans reduced to the level of a medieval society. There is no law, no order, no sanctuary for the infirm, the helpless, and the innocent. Bodies float in the streets and lie impaled on the branches of flooded trees. In the midst of an apocalyptical nightmare, Robicheaux must find two serial rapists, a morphine-addicted priest, and a vigilante who may be more dangerous than the criminals looting the city.
In a singular style that defies genre, James Lee Burke has created a hauntingly bleak picture of life in New Orleans after Katrina. Filled with complex characters and depictions of people at both their best and worst, The Tin Roof Blowdown is not only an action-packed crime thriller, but a poignant story of courage and sacrifice that critics are already calling Burke's best work.
In Burke's meticulously textured 16th Dave Robicheaux novel (after 2006's Pegasus Descending), Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath provide the backdrop for an account of sin and redemption in New Orleans. When Detective Robicheaux's department is assigned to investigate the shooting of two looters in a wealthy neighborhood, he learns that they had ransacked the home of New Orleans's most powerful mobster. Now he must locate the surviving looter before others do, and in the process he learns the fate of a priest who disappeared in the ill-fated Ninth Ward trying to rescue his trapped parishioners. Burke creates dense, rich prose that draws the reader into a web of greed and violence. Each of his characters feels the hands of both grace and of perdition, and the final outcome of their struggle is never quite certain. Burke showcases all that was both right and wrong in our response to this national disaster, proving along the way that nobody captures the spirit of Gulf Coast Louisiana better. (July)
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Simon & Schuster
July 17, 2007
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