Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Clete: A Dave Robicheaux Novel by James Lee Burke

Clete: A Dave Robicheaux Novel by James Lee Burke takes readers back to the late 90s and events that Clete Purcell and Dave Robicheaux experienced. Told primarily from the point of view of Clete, the read features all the classic elements of a Dave Robicheaux novel. Southern Louisiana setting and vivid descriptions, references to faith and societal decay, and apparitions that are symbolic of history and the great wrongs that have happened before and will happen again.


Both Clete and Dave served in Vietnam, had horrible experiences, and came back home. Coping with their military service has been a struggle for both of them. While Dave is still a cop, Clete no longer is thanks to some of the things he did. He is now a private investigator and is struggle to hang on in every way possible. He drives a 1959 El Dorado and loves that car.


He entrusts it to Eddy Durbin, owner and operator of the car wash, Eddy’s Car Wash, over in Algiers. Eddy did all his time in Angola and has made a name for himself in the years since. Clete was late in picking up the car as he was in New Orleans for a bondsman chasing down a dancer. He got back, got the car, and takes it back home to where he lives in the Garden District.


Couple of days later one morning, he hears noises, and discovers three guys pulling the leather off the seats and pulling damn near everything else out of the car. The three guys are sure there was something of theirs in the car. If not there, maybe it made its way into the house. When confronted about what they are doing to his car in his driveway, they get the idea in their heads that they want to come inside and check. Clete wasn’t going to have that.


Clete was holding his own until one of the three hit him in the head with a crowbar. Down and out, the guys got away, and New Orleans police were of no help. That means Clete is going to have to hunt these guys on his own,.


Obviously, the first stop is the carwash. Eddy Durbin sees him coming and jumps into an available car. He takes off with Clete chasing him. He finally stops and explains that there was another El Dorado and that his little brother is involved. The stuff, whatever it was, was supposed to go into that car and got put in Clete’s car by mistake. He has no idea where his brother, is but thinks the Dixie Mafia is involved. He also thinks that the stuff was probably fentanyl.


The same horrible drug that recently killed Clete’s grandniece. That makes it double personally for Clete. One way or another, Clete is going to see everyone involved dead or locked up in cage for forever. He would be fine with killing them all.


What follows is a highly atmospheric story as Clete explains what happened in the case long ago as well as shares observations on faith, morality, politics, environmental issues, and the slow destruction of Eden (Louisiana). Many of the observations fit the time period of decades ago as well as are accurately reflect the times we are in today. There have always been those among us that seek to profit off of others and just don’t care how they do it.


As often happens in Dave Robicheaux series, knowing that a person is evil and doing crimes, is one thing. Proving it for a court of law takes a lot of work with numerous detours.


Such as the case here in Clete: A Dave Robicheaux Novel by James Lee Burke. A book where the evil one sees is just the tip of a rotten iceberg that could destroy everything.


Amazon Associate Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3XdgusU


My reading copy came from the publisher, Atlantic Monthly Press, by way of Net Galley.



Kevin R. Tipple ©2024


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