four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
18-Sept-Oct-2005
user_rating: 
0

A Dave Robicheaux Novel

A-CrusadersCrossDave Robicheaux, who last appeared in Last Car to Elysian Fields ( 3.5 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2004), lives a haunted life. In this latest installment, he invokes his past to make amends for the future. In the late 1950s, when he and his brother, Jimmie, were teenagers, Jimmie got mixed up with a prostitute who disappeared soon after. Four decades later, a dying cop mentions the woman’s name, Ida Durbin, and suggests she may still be alive. Dave and Jimmie try to find her, but Dave’s got other things on his mind: a serial killer, an unlikely romance, a smear campaign. Not to mention, this Cajun cop wants to retire.
Simon & Schuster. 325 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 0743277198

Plain Dealer 4 of 5 Stars
"... the latest in this beautifully written, evocative series …. Even though the ending of Crusader is not one of Burke’s strongest, the strong and pensive voice of Dave Robicheaux makes the journey there richly satisfying." Michele Ross

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Burke’s strength has long been his ability to convey both the exceptional beauty and the exceptional violence of the American South. Both are on vivid display in Crusader’s Cross, along with an autumnal quality that has Dave seeking love, seeking peace, seeking salvation, even as his violent nature continues to endanger him and everyone he cares about." Patrick Anderson

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Because the story Burke keeps telling is essentially a religious legend, he plays a kind of priestly function, as if telling tales were part of some healing ritual. … By linking the long-ago mystery of Ida’s fate to his modern gangsters, Burke adds another layer to his central myth about the historical roots of evil ..." Marilyn Stasio

Times-Picayune 3.5 of 5 Stars
"… Burke once again crafts a tale of the roots of violence in American history and class prejudice. … Part of the fun of reading Burke’s books is knowing the history of these characters, but like old friends with bad habits, they can be frustrating at times." Susan Larson

Critical Summary

The aging Robicheaux has led a full life—full of loss, violence, and evil. Critics agree that Crusader’s Cross is a worthy addition to the series. It’s all here—the violence, the power plays, the class and racial tensions, Robicheaux’s stubbornness, the Louisiana landscape, and, of course, the references to crosses. As usual, Burke takes readers deep inside his protagonist’s heart to show how one man deals with the world’s evils, and it’s the lyrical writing and palpable scenes that make that possible. Some tangled subplots and a weak rendering of women (including Robicheaux’s daughter) barely detract. If you believe "that beauty and horror go hand in hand," notes the Washington Post, Burke "can touch you in ways few writers can."