A Private Cathedral

A Private Cathedral

Book - 2020 | First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
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"On his way to visit an inmate at a Texas prison who has promised him information, Detective Dave Robicheaux stops off at an amusement park to watch a teenaged Elvis-like rock-and-roller from his hometown of New Iberia named Johnny Shondell playing to a crowd of swooming young girls. One of them is another New Iberia teenager named Isolde Balangie. The Shondell and Balangie families are longtime rivals in the New Iberia criminal underworld. Yet Johnny and Isolde are in love. And like Romeo and Juliet, Johnny and Isolde are being kept apart by their families. In fact, Isolde tells Robicheaux, her parents have given her to the Shondell patriarch to be used as a sex slave. Seeking to uncover why, Robicheaux gets too close to both Isolde's mother and her father's mistress. As retribution, the elder Balangie orders a mysterious assassin to go after Robicheaux and his longtime partner, Clete Purcell. Yet this is unlike any hitman Robicheaux has ever faced: he has the ability induce hallucinations and might be atime-traveling reptilian. A Private Cathedral is both vintage James Lee Burke and one of his most inventive works to date--mixing romance, violence, mythology and science-fiction to produce a thrilling story about the all-consuming, all-conquering powerof love"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Simon and Schuster, 2020
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781982151683
Characteristics: 370 pages ; 25 cm


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Oct 20, 2020

Private Cathedral is different from the other Dave Robicheaux books. The voice is more personal, more compelling. Landscape becomes metaphysical and powerful.

There is corruption. There is religion. There is the occult. There are slave galleons. There are angels who seem to evolve before our eyes. Good guys blend to bad, and back again. Evil manifests itself in many forms, in a magical realism that is seems more real than magical at times.

Before, Dave would lament the passing of the good ol' times in Southern Louisiana. This time, Dave and Clete find themselves in an Armageddon where they and many of the other characters in the book are fighting for their very souls.

Accounts of Dave's daughter Alafair and Dave's love interests are, in most of the series, pretty cringeworthy, especially the dialog. Thankfully this book rarely mentions Alafair, but Dave does get involved with a couple of women, and when things get "serious," the narrative is a bit incoherent; unbelievable and, well, silly. Dave and Clete should stick to their libidos; that's what they're good at.

Oct 12, 2020

I love the word pictures that James Lee Burke paints! I not only can see the landscape but can actually feel like I am inside and a part of it. He doesn't rush the descriptions and you just sit and absorb them. The two main characters, Dave Robicheaux and oftentimes partner, Clete Purcell, are really complex characters. Both have more than their share of demons and controlling their violent streaks seems to be beyond their capabilities, even if they both have truly good hearts. I wish the stories themselves were less violent but then I suppose they would become less interesting at the same time. I had not read a book from this series in quite a while. It was good to come back.

Sep 13, 2020

Great book, read it.

Aug 23, 2020

I read Burke, not for the horrendous crimes and violence the “two Bobbsey Twins”, Robicheaux and Purcel keep encountering, but rather because of the entertaining writing. Two imperfect heroes, who go about fighting for the underdog, truth and justice in their unorthodox fashion. Although this one about human trafficking went a little overboard with the supernatural, it fits so well into the Louisiana Cajun culture, it was bearable. Like many great series authors, Burke has developed his characters over a long line of books, and this one is best read if you know the depth of Robicheaux and Purcel that has been developed as the number of books in the series grew.

debwalker Aug 10, 2020

Dave Robicheaux is back! Super creepy cover.
Plotline is reminiscent of Fargo season 2 and the lovely Gerhardt family.

Dec 07, 2019

I need to preface my review with the fact that James Lee Burke is one of my favorite living American mystery writers ( so many great ones have died ) and I have read every book in the Dave Robicheaux series beginning in 1987 - 33 years. I almost always get the book in audio format because for me the voice of Will Paton is Dave. Having said that, I hated this book. Mr. Burke has waxed mystical in earlier books such as seeing the Confederate Army, but he has never turned to such a dark, super-natural, time bending, violent, dark place. Dave, though he is not drinking, loses his moral compass, sleeps with a woman he knows he should not, and advocates murder. Dave and Clete have always walked a high wire with morality, but never like this. The book is almost too painful to read. Mr. Burke is now 83 and I believe this book is an allegory for the current state of the world. There is for me, however, sufficient pain in the world such that I do not need to find more in books that I expect to read for pleasure. I even called a friend and told her not to read the book. Though there are moments of great reverence for the world we are destroying, for the first time in more than 3 decades I cannot recommend a James Lee Burke novel. Kristi & Abby Tabby


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