Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pg. 69: "The Tin Roof Blowdown"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: James Lee Burke's The Tin Roof Blowdown.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the waning days of summer, 2005, a storm with greater impact than the bomb that struck Hiroshima peels the face off southern Louisiana.

This is the gruesome reality Iberia Parish Sheriff's Detective Dave Robicheaux discovers as he is deployed to New Orleans. As James Lee Burke's new novel, The Tin Roof Blowdown, begins, Hurricane Katrina has left the commercial district and residential neighborhoods awash with looters and predators of every stripe. The power grid of the city has been destroyed, New Orleans reduced to the level of a medieval society. There is no law, no order, no sanctuary for the infirm, the helpless, and the innocent. Bodies float in the streets and lie impaled on the branches of flooded trees. In the midst of an apocalyptical nightmare, Robicheaux must find two serial rapists, a morphine-addicted priest, and a vigilante who may be more dangerous than the criminals looting the city.

In a singular style that defies genre, James Lee Burke has created a hauntingly bleak picture of life in New Orleans after Katrina. Filled with complex characters and depictions of people at both their best and worst, The Tin Roof Blowdown is not only an action-packed crime thriller, but a poignant story of courage and sacrifice that critics are already calling Burke's best work.

Among the early praise for The Tin Roof Blowdown:
The Tin Roof Blowdown is James Lee Burke’s best Dave Robicheaux novel since In the Electric Mist of the Confederate Dead, which means that it's Faulknerian. Recovering alcoholic Robicheaux goes out to do justice in the violent aftermath of Katrina – 'New Orleans was a song that went under the waves' – and the pols are behaving as badly as the cops, who are already in cahoots with the Mafia, and you can’t tell the race warriors from the vigilantes. Beneath the surface of these dark waters, in search of the body of a junkie priest, Robicheaux finds golden lights broken like Communion wafers.”
– John Leonard, Harper’s

“Katrina was no fictional event, and Burke writes about its aftermath as vividly and powerfully as any nonfiction chronicler… the novel’s power comes from the way it explores the tragedy of Katrina in a way that is perfectly in tune with the series, a kind of perfect storm brought together by the confluence of fictional and non-fictional realms.” ­
Booklist, starred review

“Burke creates dense, rich prose that draws the reader into a web of greed and violence. Each of his characters feels the hands of both grace and of perdition, and the final outcome of their struggle is never quite certain. Burke showcases all that was both right and wrong in our response to this national disaster, proving along the way that nobody captures the spirit of Gulf Coast Louisiana better.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Apart from the operatically scaled evocation of the hurricane, a shattering portrait Burke was born to create, the most striking creation here is Bertrand Melancon, a lost soul who can’t decide whether he’s an avenger or a penitent.”
James Lee Burke, a rare winner of two Edgar Awards, is the author of over twenty novels, including such New York Times bestsellers as Bitterroot, Purple Cane Road, Cimarron Rose, Jolie Blon's Bounce, and Dixie City Jam.

Visit Burke's website and read an excerpt from The Tin Roof Blowdown.

The Page 69 Test: The Tin Roof Blowdown.

--Marshal Zeringue