Re: RARA-AVIS: black cherry blues

From: a.n.smith (
Date: 03 Feb 2002

I read all the Burke stuff, and even though it irritates, I have to. I used to like him much more too, especially since I'm from a Louisiana family and love to get back there whenever I can.

But a couple things:

> just finished james lee burke's _black cherry blues_. best
> book i've read in a long time. it was a refreshing change
> of pace for hardboiled. there were a lot of beautiful des-
> criptions of country scenes and past experiences.

Yep, and those descriptions pretty much show up nearly the same in every book he writes. Same with past experiences. I guess that's not so bad, since it's the voice of this character (why should it ever change?), but I notice it more now, like it's formula.

>and it was nice to see a sober lead for a change, and he even incorporated
> some of AA's 12 steps into the story.

Too many people doing this, I think. At first, it was original, now I think it's a "false tension" in the later books. He talks about it way too much. Take a drink already and give us some "real" trouble for a change.

>and i've heard him criticized for his other-world ghostly encouters,
> but i thought it did nothing but strengthen an already great
> book.

I'm not a big fan of dreams/ghosts in crime fiction that seem to do way too much work, leading the detective subconsciously (I don't believe in the unconscious as set forth by Freud, so there...) to the clues, the answers, whatever. I can barely remember my dreams, and when I do, they're soooo fragmented. I know, I can't use that as the be-all and end-all idea on dreams (a friend of mine is into that Lucid Dreaming stuff), but for fiction, these ghosts/dreams seem damn convenient.

So, I'll keep reading Burke, especially the Robicheaux books, but the overall feel is no longer exciting, not really uncomfortable or dull, but just...familiar.

Neil Smith

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