James Lee Burke, Pegasus Descending
When it comes to literate and violent motifs in a major detective series James Lee Burke has few peers. For more than two decades the Dave Robicheaux detective series has blossomed and each of the recent novels have been lauded by the critics. Burke is a major force in American crime. This novel contains an appreciation by critic and mystery writer James Sallis.
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Following early attempts at literary fiction and a thriller issued by a university press James Lee Burke found a niche with the Dave Robicheaux detective novel Neon Rain (1987). It was a breakthrough that quickly earned him an Edgar for best mystery with Black Cherry Blues, his third novel in the series. This book, like the others in the series is about a deep feeling for the South, human dignity and redemption. What Burke brings to the genre is an emotional engagement; listen to this: “. . . I had found the edge. The place where you unstrap all your fastenings to the earth, to what you are what you have been, where you flame out on the edge of the spheres, and the sun and moon become eclipsed and the world below is as dead and remote and without interest as if it were glazed with ice. ”
Plotline for Pegasus Descending (2006) from the James Lee Burke site: Detective Dave Robicheaux is facing the most painful and dangerous case of his career. A troubled young woman breezes into his hometown of New Iberia, Louisiana. She happens to be the daughter of Robicheaux’s onetime best friend – a friend he witnessed gunned down in a bank robbery, a tragedy that forever changed Robicheaux’s life. In Pegasus Descending, James Lee Burke again explores psyches as much as evidence, and tries to make sense of human behavior as well as of his characters’ crimes. Richly atmospheric, frightening in its sudden violence, and replete with the sort of puzzles only the best crime fiction creates, Burke’s latest novel is an unforgettable roller coaster of passion, surprise, and regret. The twists begin when Trish Klein — the only offspring of Robicheaux’s Vietnam-era buddy — starts passing marked hundred-dollar bills in local casinos. Is she a good kid gone bad? A victim’s child seeking revenge? A promiscuous beauty seducing everyone good within her grasp? And how does her behavior relate to the apparent suicide of another “good” girl, an ace student named Yvonne Darbonne, who apparently participated in a college frat orgy before her death?
James Lee Burke has become the foremost American crime writer of his time. Although an entertainer Burke’s Robicheaux series (now extending to eighteen dense novels) marks out an outstanding achievement in creating a much followed flawed character with real depth and in extending the crime genre into areas of wider social concern. Jim’s colleague Jim Sallis provides us with his insights into the writer in his appreciation. The Scorpion Press edition comprised 80 numbered and signed copies and a further 15 lettered for presentation purposes. The book on offer is the numbered and signed state.