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James Bradley, Ron Powers
Paul Levine
Dixie City Jam - James Lee Burke If this book was a truck, it would be a heavy duty Ford able to pull a submarine out of the water. As number seven in the Dave Robicheaux series, this book, I believe, was the best one yet and that’s saying a lot since I’ve given them all four or five stars. (I don’t give out five stars easily.)

Happy that I started with book number one because it lays out the development of Robicheaux otherwise I might think the guy is just simply crazy. He is certainly prone to violence but doles it out carefully. When presented with violence he doesn’t sidestep it except when it’s to his benefit, however his ex- New Orleans PD partner Cletus Purcel barrels right into it like a bull in a China shop.

If reading about violence and unseemly characters bothers you, pass this book up. The word unseemly isn’t strong enough because the main villain is simply evil and Burke’s description of him in some passages was downright scary. I’m not the sensitive sort either. The villain (and there are a few) is a neo-Nazi, known worldwide however has avoided capture. Some passages just made me uneasy and I know it’s a book.

Burke’s writing style is lyrical, singsong in some passages. I love his command of the English language. In my opinion it is well earned since his degree is in English and he was a college professor of English and creative writing. I’m drawn towards authors with similar backgrounds and Robert B. Parker comes to mind. Such writers know how to structure sentences and bring life to the English language for the reader.

I was struck by the sensuously written love scenes. Burke’s writing evokes the tenderness or sadness of Dave’s feeling at the time. They were just lovely passages and some I re-read because they were so beautifully written.

While some readers may find his description of the scenery of southern Louisiana tiresome, I never tire of reading the color of the sun coming up, bouncing off the curtains, or the sky’s brightness and when I said lyrical, I’m speaking mostly of those passages. After Burke's description after a rain you can almost feel the dampness on your arms.

Burke uses figures of speech in clever ways to draw the reader into the character or scene so the reader feels they’re a ‘fly on the wall’ eavesdropping. He brings the events and characters to life for the reader.

Clete plays an important role in the plot which had a number of subplots related both closely and peripherally to the main plot, that being the sinking and location of a Nazi submarine off the coast of Louisiana. The characters were numerous but all drawn so clearly by Burke that you did not need to make a special effort to remember them.

Although published in 1994, Burke used the book to make social commentary with references to a national right wing radio personality; the homeless, poverty and a number of other issues in the national dialog we read about daily.

Dixie City Jam was one of those books I had a very hard time putting down.

Wanting to savor the series, I chose to read a Dave Robicheaux book every two months or so. I want them to last. I like that feeling that I’m ‘going home’ when I begin a new one and want that feeling to be drawn out as long as possible. Savoring my Robicheaux binge, I know.