Dixie City Jam
James Lee Burke / Author, Daniel Steinberg / Author Hyperion $
After his dreamy sojourn into Civil War history in In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead , former New Orleans cop Dave Robicheaux comes up against the residue of Nazism in his action-packed, somewhat rambling seventh adventure. When Batist, who helps Dave run his bait shop, is arrested for the latest in a series of murders of New Orleans drug dealers, Dave must raise money for his bail. For a $10,000 finder's fee, he agrees to search for a Nazi submarine sunk in 1942 off the coast of New Iberia, where he is now deputy sheriff. While the sub search draws the attention of a neo-Nazi sadist who threatens Dave's wife, Bootsie, Dave is distracted by the antics of his former partner, Clete Purcel, who has decided to take on mob interests and, in one instance, destroys a crime boss's mansion with an earth mover. Before a dramatic resolution at sea draws the threads of the plots loosely together, Dave traces an intricate course marked by ritual killings, bouts of torture, Bootsie's anxiety (from which she seeks relief in drink) and racial and gender politics within the New Orleans police force, drawing Dave into the lives of a feisty black woman cop and her teenage son. A standout in the diverting supporting cast is doom-predicting Brother Oswald, who employs a maddeningly roundabout manner of discourse. In this physically demanding, fast moving plot, Dave is less ruminative than when last seen, though he holds on to his trademark melancholy-tinged sensitivity. $200,000 ad/promo; 20-city author tour.
Reviewed on: 08/01/1994