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Bookmarks Issue: 
31-Nov-Dec-2007
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A Dave Robicheaux Novel

A-The Tin Roof BlowdownHurricane Katrina has just decimated New Orleans, and deputy Dave Robicheaux of New Iberia Parish—last seen in Pegasus Descending (2006)—has been dispatched to the flooded city to maintain order and help with relief efforts. While probing the murder of a Catholic priest killed for his boat while rescuing parishioners from a flooded church, Robicheaux encounters a looter on the run from the mobster whose house he ransacked, a father intent on taking justice into his own hands, and a dangerous psychopath stalking his daughter. Angry and overwhelmed, Robicheaux witnesses firsthand how extreme adversity can rip the civilized façade from an entire city to expose its deep-rooted prejudices and provoke ordinary people into acts of nobility—and violence.
Simon & Schuster. 373 pages. $26. ISBN: 1416548483

Entertainment Weekly 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Though some of Burke’s recent thrillers have been uneven, this entry is not only a top-notch mystery but a moving post-Katrina tribute to his beloved New Orleans. … Burke’s elegy is so raw, painful, and eloquent, it’s almost hard to concentrate on the case." Tina Jordan

Baton Rouge Advocate 4 of 5 Stars
"This is just a novel and Robicheaux is imaginary, but Burke uses the detective’s voice to say some things about what happened after Katrina that haven’t been said as well or as clearly anywhere else. … This is one of Burke’s best books yet, at once thoughtful and entertaining, full of violence but also compassion and insight." Greg Langley

Miami Herald 4 of 5 Stars
"Set during and after Hurricane Katrina, The Tin Roof Blowdown is a riveting story of evil and redemption, the Burke story for which we’ve been waiting since that terrible day two years ago when sorrow rained down on New Orleans and changed its face forever. … Burke masterfully interweaves elements of violence, courage and regret with a deep sense of what makes us good or bad—or both—especially in times of crisis." Connie Ogle

New Orleans Times-Picayune 4 of 5 Stars
"How to transform suffering and loss into art? Burke has risen to that challenge in The Tin Roof Blowdown, his best book ever. … Perhaps only James Lee Burke could create a novel of such despair and hope, such poetry, such grief." Susan Larson

Richmond Times-Dispatch 4 of 5 Stars
"Burke re-creates the soul-shattering TV images of Katrina’s wrath that may have faded a bit from our memories. Although this tale of heroes and monsters is often violent and grim, The Tin Roof Blowdown—quite possibly Burke’s best book in the series—is also a story of mercy and forgiveness, one he makes touching and believable." Jay Strafford

Salt Lake Tribune 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Burke brings the sights, sounds, tastes and textures of his characters’ worlds to life as few other writers do. … Burke not only rises to the task of relaying the physical changes in southern Louisiana, he also weaves into the plot the racial and class tensions that boiled up in the aftermath of Katrina in one of the darkest and most engaging Robicheaux stories he’s written." Dan Nailen

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"The crime story is as solid and well-written as we have come to expect from the prolific Burke, but it’s ground we’ve covered before. … My complaint about The Tin Roof Blowdown is that Burke’s crime story isn’t equal to the larger horror that surrounds it." Patrick Anderson

Critical Summary

Ever since Hurricane Katrina ravaged southern Louisiana in August 2005, James Lee Burke’s fans have been waiting for this book, and Burke does not disappoint. Outraged and eloquent, the two-time Edgar Award–winner delivers a gut-wrenching portrayal of the storm’s ferocity and devastating aftermath, venting through Robicheaux his frustration at the human incompetence and greed that magnified nature’s destructive fury. His evocative, heartfelt prose, sympathetic characters, and intricately interwoven plotlines grip the reader from the first page. Burke’s admirers will savor this latest installment, while those not yet acquainted with Robicheaux can start here, thanks to the comprehensive background information Burke provides in what critics call his best book yet.