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Cadillac Jukebox
James Lee Burke

Cadillac Jukebox
James Lee Burke
London 1996

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Cadillac Jukebox is a welcome sixth outing in James Lee Burke’s exceptionally good series of novels to feature hard bitten Louisiana detective Dave Robicheaux. The film version of Burke’s second Robicheaux book, Heaven’s Prisoners is released this Summer and stars Alec Baldwin as the troubled detective.

The setting for Cadillac Jukebox, as ever, is the bayoux and backstreets of Louisiana where Aaron Crown, former Klansman, has finally been convicted of the murder 28 years earlier of a prominent civil rights leader. But something about the case doesn’t smell right to Robicheaux and he soon discovers that powerful people would rather have an uncomfortable past left well alone – not least the candidate for State Governor, Burford LaRose and his wife Karyn. Karyn is an old flame of Robicheaux and he is reluctant to get further involved for fear of alienating his own wife. But when he is warned off the case by the mob and an unhinged hitman starts targeting those connected with the case, Robicheaux finds himself drawn headlong into a darkly complex tale where personal and professional loyalties are put to the test.

James Lee Burke is a remarkable writer who combines often chilling violence with the lyrical heart of a poet. His fine sense of place vividly evokes the steamy emotional landscape of the deep South and at times this reads like a travelogue of all the places you wouldn’t want to visit but are tempted by nonetheless. Dark, elegant, hauntingly good.

Reviewed by Jon Mitchell


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