James Lee Burke, Swan Peak
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. Here Dave and Clete go to Montana for a break after the events in New Orleans and become embroiled in another tense case. This edition contains an appreciation by the proprietor of Scorpion Press Michael Johnson.
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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 this 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 publishers blurb: After the devastating events recounted in The Tin Roof Blowdown, Dave Robicheaux and his ex-partner in Homicide, Clete Purcel, head for the mountains and trout streams of Montana for some much-needed healing. However, while Montana might seem an unspoilt paradise peopled by men and women from an earlier, more innocent time in American history, Dave and Clete soon find that there are plenty of serpents in the garden too. The deaths of a couple of hikers suggest a perverted serial killer may be at work, while an escaped jailbird and his former tormentor are locked in a savage dance of revenge that is ultimately connected to the fortunes of a wealthy oil family hiding a terrible secret . . .
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. The Tin Roof Blowdown got superb notices and so did Swan Peak (2008). Michael Johnson in his appreciation places Burke’s novels in the tradition of McCarthy (Border Trilogy) and McMurtry (Lonesome Dove) and goes further by examining the apocalyptic feelings present in the dark side of America resulting from Vietnam angst post-Watergate trauma. Scorpion Press edition comprised 80 numbered and signed copies and a further and 16 lettered for presentation purposes.