Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke

Black Cherry Blues cover Black Cherry Blues is the third Dave Robicheaux novel and the second one I read. It starts out in the bayou of southern Louisiana. Rob is still recovering from the murder of his wife some time earlier. He’s quit his law enforcement jobs and runs a fish and tackle business way out in the sticks. His biggest concern is his adopted child Alafair (not by coincident Burke’s real life daughter who’s also a mystery writer).

An old roommate, once famous now fallen on hard times musician Lee Pugh, visits to enlist Robicheaux’s help. He’s overheard a conversation between two colleagues discussing a murder. Robicheaux isn’t interested, but after Lee begs him for help he intercedes with the employers of the two men. Next thing he knows, the two men threaten Alafair.

So we’re off to the races. Robicheaux  wants to settle the score with the men, they meeting goes sideways, Robicheaux is arrested for murder. While out on bail, he’s got very little time to prove the guild of the men. The search takes him and Alafair to the Montana oil country where he gets entangled with an assortment of bad guys.

I liked the book alright. It seemed brooding in its tone. Addiction and alcoholism were never far from the surface of the narrative. Robicheaux obviously has more demons to fight than the ordinary person. The plot is at times a little convoluted. And Robicheaux’s violent encounters with bad guys stand in strange juxtaposition to his internal monolog. His concern for Alafair, however, makes for very sweet moments. His persistent efforts to get her to speak proper English rings very true.

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