Purple Cane Road

September 2000By Comments

“Years ago, in state documents, Vachel Carmouche was always referred to as the electrician, never as the executioner.” This stately but ominous opening line kick-starts Purple Cane Road (Doubleday), the crown jewel of James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series. The Houston native wrings enough nuance, danger, and humor out of a single page to stock your garden-variety mystery writer’s dialogue larder for months. The emotionally taut story line revolves around Robicheaux’s investigation into his mother’s long-ago murder at the hands of the police. This is the finest hard-nosed detective writing so far this year and may stand as one of the best of the decade to come.

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