James Lee Burke, Sunset Limited
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 critics. Burke is a major force in American crime. This edition contains an appreciation by bestselling mystery and suspense writer Michael Connelly.
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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 from the James Lee Burke site for Sunset Limited (1998): Forty years ago, a local labour leader was crucified in a crime that remains unsolved. Now, his daughter–Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Megan Flynn–returns to New Iberia. With a seemingly insignificant remark to Robicheaux, she begins a chain of events that lead right back to her father’s death. New Iberia, in some sense, is frozen in time as the age-old problems of race and class weave their way into the mystery, complicating Robicheaux’s discovery of not only the original crime, but the wealth of murders that spring up along the way. Add in the Chinese mob, corrupt policemen, and a Hollywood film shoot, and the stage is set.
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 and admirer Michael Connelly provides us with his insights into the writer in his appreciation. The Scorpion Press edition comprised 110 numbered and signed copies and a further 16 lettered for presentation purposes.