James Lee Burke’s first Dave Robicheaux novel – The Neon Rain – was a sleek 240 pages. Light of the World – Robicheaux’s 20th adventure – clocks in at an eyeball-numbing 550. And once you settle into it, you realise that you’re going to feel every single one of them. Robicheaux broods constantly about guilt, evil and redemption. Clete Purcell is either on the booze, falling in love with the wrong woman, or threatening to kill every bad guy in sight to protect his daughter. She just happens to be up in Montana with the two of them because… she felt like a holiday, I think. Trouble is, once she’s there, she wants to protect Robicheaux’s daughter Alafair from the psychopathic killer who’s back from the apparent dead and intent on tracking her down. It gets complicated.
And then more complicated. And more. Everybody is always getting in everybody else’s face, threatening terminal violence and/or dismemberment. And they keep doing it. The threats and confrontations pile up to the point where I was sitting in my chair wondering when anybody was actually going to make good on just on of those promises – simply to move the story along.
I really like James Lee Burke. I think he’s a wonderful writer. But this reads like a book written to meet a publisher’s deadline, rather than something he really wanted to write. (And boy, wouldn’t we all like THAT problem.) So I’m going to keep looking for his work. Even as I wish that he wouldn’t let the Page Count Goblin out of his cage so often.