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Book Review: Creole Belle by James Lee Burke

Creole Belle by James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke is a writer’s writer – an author that other writer’s compare themselves with in the hopes of one day writing as well. Chance would be a fine thing. James Lee Burke is an outstanding writer and he has a gift of lyricism that is unsurpassed.

His latest book, Creole Belle, opens with Detective Dave Robicheaux (a recurring character for James Lee Burke) in a recovery unit in New Orleans after surviving a vicious shoot out. A Creole singer named Tee Jolie visits him and leaves him an IPOD with the country blues song ‘Creole Belle.’ Then she disappears and Dave becomes obsessed with finding her. But no one saw Tee Jolie visit and no one except Dave can hear the song on his IPOD. He fears he is losing his grip on sanity, but then Tee Jolie’s younger sister is discovered dead and Dave begins to find clues that Tee Jolie’s life is in danger and somehow it is linked to art fraud and billions of dollars worth of oil in the Gulf.

Meanwhile, Clete, his old homicide partner-turned Private Eye continues to be haunted by his two tours in Vietnam, and he has a new assistant – a woman he believes to be his daughter, that he also suspects is a hired killer. Dave’s investigations put his own daughter in danger and soon both men are fighting dangerous forces to keep their daughters safe – although in Clete’s case he still doesn’t know the truth of his daughter’s life.

Creole Belle is a book that you will read and you won’t know where you are going until the very end. It captures the tragedy of Vietnam, the problems of oil in the Gulf and the difficulty of men to remain honest and steadfast and true when surrounded by lies and deception. Dave and Clete are very moral men, although they don’t play by the rules and the story becomes a violent, but epic battle against evil. Be warned that parts of this novel are visceral, but this is an intelligent novel and one well worth reading.

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