cover image A Morning for Flamingos

A Morning for Flamingos

James Lee Burke. Little Brown and Company, $18.95 (294pp) ISBN 978-0-316-11721-0

In a muddy, weed-filled coulee, Louisiana detective Dave Robicheaux begs an escaped convict for his life and is left more troubled by his lack of courage than by his gunshot wounds. Burke ( Half of Paradise ) proceeds to balance the resulting self-doubts of his tough, sympathetic hero with a complex, credible plot in his latest Cajun mystery. Robicheaux, a widower, leaves his small town for New Orleans, where he used to be a cop, to run a sting operation for the DEA. He engineers drug buys aimed at incriminating the local drug lord, an ex-Marine with nightmares and a habit from Vietnam, while trying to ferret out Jimmie Lee Boggs, the killer responsible for the coulee incident. Vivid supporting characters include Robicheaux's former NOPD partner Clete Purcel; an old true love now the widow of a Mafia figure; Gros Mama Goula, a juju woman; and Tony Cardo, the jumpy dealer whose inner struggles reflect Robicheaux's. Attentive to language and atmosphere, Burke delivers action on churning Gulf waters, in city streets, in deserted fields and within the souls of his memorable characters--and a fully satisfying resolution. (Oct.)