Bad Boys on the Bayou

Glass Rainbow

The Glass Rainbow by James Lee Burke, available in hardcover, large print, CD and downloadable audio.

Jen McCormackI love reading James Lee Burke’s novels; he has created the two best characters in American detective fiction and pits them against the most insidious evil against the peaceful background of the heat and beauty of southern Louisiana in every book.

For this post I tried to pick my favorite to introduce the series, to choose a place to recommend that a reader begin, but found that I couldn’t talk about one of these novels without referring to the other.

So I will tell you to start reading James Lee Burke’s novels by picking up The Glass Rainbow, but be forewarned that when you’re done with that you should have Creole Belle on your nightstand ready to go.

While these two books aren’t the first in the Dave Robicheaux series, they are the perfect introduction to the friendship between Robicheaux, a police detective, and his best friend Clete Purcel, a kind of one-man wrecking machine who consistently makes all kinds of bad decisions in the name of honor and loyalty.

Low-lifes and high-lifes
The villains in The Glass Rainbow are as malevolent as they come:  Herman Stanga is a vile crack dealer who also works as a pimp and is easy to spot as a low-life criminal. The more dangerous may be Kermit Abelard who comes from a prominent Louisiana family and is so smooth that Dave’s daughter believes she is in love with him.

But Robert Weingart may be the most treacherous of the bunch:  a best-selling author who is also an ex-convict and certainly not the man he wants everyone to believe.  Dave and Clete are looking for the culprit in the murder of seven young women and somehow all three of these men seem to be connected to each other and the murders in a way that Dave can’t quite untangle.

The violent end of this book is like the cliff-hanger episode of your favorite crime show. Luckily you don’t have to wait for the summer hiatus to be over to find out what happens to Dave and Clete, just reach out to your nightstand and grab that copy of Creole Belle I told you about and stay right there in the bayou of New Iberia, Lousiana.

If you’ve already been introduced to Dave and Clete and are looking for other great detectives send me an email:

About Jen McCormack

Jen McCormack is the director of the Nashua Public Library. Previously she was director of the Tewksbury (Mass.) Public Library and assistant director and reference librarian at the Amesbury (Mass.) Public Library. She studied history at UNH and earned her master's in library and information science from Simmons College.

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