Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux Series #3)

Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux Series #3)

by James Lee Burke

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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Winner of the Edgar award for best novel

Evil crept into Dave Robicheaux's bayou world one night and destroyed the woman he loved. Now it's threatening the life of his innocent child.

Framed for murder, the Cajun ex-cop is traveling far from his Louisiana home to clear his name, to help a friend, to save what remains of his family—seeking justice and revenge in the Big Sky Country of Montana.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062206749
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/27/2012
Series: Dave Robicheaux Series , #3
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 53,258
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.93(d)

About the Author

James Lee Burke is the author of nineteen novels, including eleven starring the Detective Dave Robicheaux. Burke grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast, where he now lives with his wife, Pearl, and spends several months of the year in Montana.


New Iberia, Louisiana and Missoula, Montana

Date of Birth:

December 5, 1936

Place of Birth:

Houston, Texas


B.A., University of Missouri, 1959; M.A., University of Missouri, 1960

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

HER hair is curly and gold on the pillow, her skin white in the heat lightning that trembles beyond the pecan trees outside the bedroom window. The night is hot and breathless, the clouds painted like horsetails against the sky; a peal of thunder rumbles out an the Gulf like an apple rolling around in the bottom of a wood barrel, and the first raindrops ping against the window fan. She sleeps on her side, and the sheet molds her thigh, the curve of her hip, her breast. In the flicker of the heat lightning the sun freckles on her bare shoulder look like brown flaws in sculpted marble.

Then a prizing bar splinters the front door out of the jamb, and two men burst inside the house in heavy shoes, their pump shotguns at port arms. One is a tall Haitian, the other a Latin whose hair hangs off his head in oiled ringlets. They stand at the foot of the double bed in which she sleeps alone, and do not speak. She awakes with her mouth open, her eyes wide and empty of meaning. Her face is still warm from a dream, and she cannot separate sleep from the two men who stare at her without speaking. Then she sees them looking at each other and aim their shotguns point-blank at her chest. Her eyes film and she calls out my name like a wet bubble bursting in her throat. The sheet is twisted in her hands; she holds it against her breasts as though it could protect her from twelve-gauge deer slugs and double-aught buckshot.

They begin shooting, and the room seems to explode with smoke and flame from their shotgun barrels, with shell wadding, mattress stuffing, splinters gouged out of the bedstead, torn lampshades, flying glass. The two killers aremethodical. They have taken out the sportsman's plug in their shotguns so they can load five rounds in the magazine, and they keep firing and ejecting the smoking hulls an the floor until their firing pins snap empty. Then they reload with the calmness of men who might have juststood up in a blind and fired at a formation of ducks overhead.

The sheet is torn, drenched with her blood, embedded in her wounds. The men have gone now, and I sink to my, knees by my wife and kiss her sightless eyes, run my hands over her hair and wan face, put her fingers in my mouth. A solitary drop of her blood runs down the shattered headboard and pools on my skin. A bolt of lightning explodes in an empty field behind the house. The inside of my head is filled with a wet, sulphurous smell, and again I hear my name rise like muffled, trapped air released from the sandy bottom of a pond.

It was four in the morning on a Saturday and raining hard when I awoke from the dream in a West Baton Rouge motel. I sat on the side of the bed in my underwear and tried to rub the dream out of my face, then I used the bathroom and came back and sat on the side ofthe bed again in the dark.

First light was still two hours away, but I knew I would not sleep again. I put on my raincoat and hat and drove in my pickup truck to an all-night café that occupied one side of a clapboard roadhouse. The rain clattered on my truck cab, and the wind was blowing strong Out of the southwest, across the Atchafalaya swamp, whipping the palm and Oak trees by the highway. West Baton Rouge, which begins at the Mississippi River, has always been a seedy area of truck stops, marginal gambling joints, Negro and blue-collar bars. To the east you can see the lighted girders of the Earl K. Long Bridge, plumes of smoke rising from the oil refineries, the state capitol building silhouetted in the rain. Baton Rouge is a green town full of oak trees, parks, and lakes, and the thousands of lights on the refineries and chemical plants are regarded as a testimony to financial security rather than a sign of industrial blight. But once you drive west across the metal grid of the bridge and thump down on the old cracked four-lane, you're in a world that caters to the people of the Atchafalaya basin -- Cajuns, redbones, roustabouts, pipeliners, rednecks whose shrinking piece of American geography is identified only by a battered pickup, a tape deck playing Waylon, and a twelve-pack of Jax.

The rain spun in the yellow arc lights over the café parking lot. It was empty inside, except for a fat Negro woman whom I could see through the service window in the kitchen, and a pretty, redheaded waitress in her early twenties, dressed in a pink uniform with her hair tied up on her freckled neck. She was obviously tired, but she was polite and smiled at me when she took my order, and I felt a sense of guilt, almost shame, at my susceptibility and easy fondness for a young woman's smile. Because if you're forty-nine and unmarried or a widower or if you've simply chosen to live alone, you're easily flattered by a young woman's seeming attention to you, and you forget that it is often simply a deference to your age.

I ordered a chicken-fried steak and a cup of coffee and listened to Jimmy Clanton's recording of "Just a Dream" that came from the jukebox next door. Through the open doorway that gave onto the empty dance floor, I could see a half-dozen people at the bar against the far wall. I watched a man my age, with waved blond hair, drink his

I whiskey down to the ice, point to the glass for the bartender to refill it, then rise from...

Table of Contents

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Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux Series #3) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A friend suggested I read Burke's books a few months ago, so I'm just 'new' to the Robicheaux series...I started with the first book of the series and I will read them all. Robicheaux can't help himself, he's so human, complex, devout in his faith, compassionate, but just don't mess with him - you have to like him. And in all the drama and chaos in Robicheaux's life Burke writes so beautifully and describes every minute detail, is so descriptive of the human element and nature's surroundings at the same time. When Burke describes the dreams of Robicheaux, the fishing camps, his past, the countryside - its the best I've ever read. I couldn't put the book down. Burke tells a good, suspensful drama.
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
This trade paperback reprint brings back an early Dave Robicheaux novel (first published in 1989) in which he travels from his native Louisiana to Montana to escape his guilt over the murder of his wife. Of course, the familiar territory is covered: his attendance at AA meetings, care for an adopted refugee girl from El Salvador, among other things. A land-hungry oil company is pitted against the interests of a Blackfoot reservation, and when two American Indian activists disappear, Dave’s investigation puts him squarely in the sights of mafia thugs and the oil interests. Also, he enters into a romance with Darlene American Horse, his ex-partner’s girlfriend. The broad sweep of the story helps Dave relieve the demons of his grief, loss, fear, rage and need for vengeance. And the author shows how graphically and wonderfully he can write about the broad vistas of Montana’s red cliffs and tree-line hills, as well as the accustomed bayous of Louisiana, and the multi-ethnic aspects of the United States. Recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
James Lee Burke is by far one of the best authors I have ever read. His descriptive narrative is so wonderful that you can almost smell, see, and taste everything his characters experience. From this book I was hooked, and with each book, it only gets better!
WaukeshaPhoenix More than 1 year ago
This man can really write. Can't tell you how many times I've been disappointed in books I've started, finding the writing amateurish, or the characters hollow. Mr. Burke PUTS you there, be it Louisiana, or in this one, Montana, with all the sights, smells, sounds, and sensations. His characters are fascinating, whether good guys or bad. This book is the best one so far, so I will be excited to start the next.
SamiO More than 1 year ago
If you have ever visited Louisiana, before or after Katrina and her tag along, this Author will keep you coming back for more and more and more. No where have descriptions caused me to buy so many books! He is a master of description and his characters are more than true to life. I salute you, James Lee Burke. My husband and I are planning a trip to New Orleans and most of the other places you speak of in you books. He lived there, I have visited many times. I wish I had read your books... too many years ago, to have done so... but I would really have enjoyed my visits more. Thank you. cm
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brian55 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an okay read. I felt the hopping between Louisiana and Montana made the story a bit disjointed. He won an Edgar Award in 1990 for this book but, I'm curious to the reasoning. I read this for a library book club and was glad that I did. He did a very good job with describing locations and the environment. I will give him another try.
andyray on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I give this the big 5-0 because it has everything I have come to expect from James Lee Burke: quality writing; wonderful characterization; excellent pacing, plus a tenderness he doesn't show in all his novels.
wildbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is number three in the Dave Robicheaux series and it won the Edgar Award in 1990.The book opens with Dave having a flashback about the viscous murder of his wife Annie in the previous book. She and his father appear to him throughout the book. This book is more of a straight detective novel than some of Burke's later books in the series.Dave runs into an old friend of his from college, Dixie Lee Pugh. Dixie was a rock and roller until he went to prison for a DWI homicide and then he became just a drunk. Dave gets tied in with a couple acquaintances of Dixie's, Dalton Vidrine and Harry Mapes. Dixie tells Dave about two murders committed by Vidrine and Mapes. Dave thinks they have threatened Alafair so he wreaks some serious violence on both of them. The only problem is that after he leaves Dalton Vidrine gets murdered, probably by Mapes. Dave gets arrested and with Mapes testimony it looks like he is headed to Angola. So Dave gets out and decides to go after Mapes and get him for the murders Dixie told him about. Solve a crime so you don't go to jail.To find Mapes, Dave and Alafair go to Montana. There he runs into Cletus who is working for Sally Dio a small time greaseball. Cletus is living with Darlene Desmarteau whose brother Clayton was one of the people Vidrine and Mapes murdered. The actions of the characters create a convoluted plot accompanied by Burke's quota of violence and murder.The story is excellent with a frantic pace. The details are left for the reader to discover. Robicheaux's inner dialog is not as persistent as his later books. Burke's gift for description of the landscape and everything else has not yet blossomed. This book is a hard boiled gritty mystery where the plot and the Cajun flavor provide the entertainment.I enjoyed the book very much. It is the kind of book you sit down to read and forget to get up until you are done. The Black Cherry blues is a song by Dixie Lee Pugh written in an isolation cell." You can toke, you can drop,Drink or use.It doesn't matter, daddy,"Cause you're never gonna loseThem mean old jailhouseBlack Cherry Blues."
dlgoldie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
No one writes mysteries like James Lee Burke. The most beautiful writing, the best plotting and the most unforgettable characters.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Have you read Lee Child's Reacher books? (If not, close this book and go start that series right now.) Dave Robicheaux is similar enough to Jack Reacher that this series comes *so* close to being good.The author, however, is too descriptive. Yeah, I know, books are supposed to be somewhat descriptive but... if you're reading a "kick-butt" book, do you really care that there are pecan trees in the backyard, or that Dave can flyfish? Naw... you don't.There's some action, but it's so buried inside of the environmental descriptions and the "flashbacks" to falling-down-drunk-Dave that it's hard to find sometimes.And I can't figure out why the author is obsessed with using the word Negro as an adjective. I know it's a late-80s book, but still, does it matter what race the waitress or the gardener or the guy driving by in his car is? Not to the plot anyway, but the author made a point of telling us every time someone was not of Western European descent.But... I'll keep reading the series because there is some rough-n-tumble going on here, and some outside the rules justice... which is what I'm looking for.
mazda502001 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the third in the Dave Robicheaux series and I love reading about the American South and Robicheaux's criminal world. Burke really knows how to tell a story - a wonderful writer.Back Cover Blurb:Personal tragedy has left Dave Robicheaux close to the edge. Battling against his old addiction to alcohol and haunted nightly by vivid dreams and visitations, Dave finds his only tranquility at home with his young ward Alafair. But even this fragile peace is shattered by the arrival of Dixie Lee Pugh who brings with him a brutal trail of murder and violence.Robicheaux reluctantly agrees to help out his old friend but becomes more involved than he bargained for when he finds himself suspect Number One in a series of bloody killings. Forced to leave his home, Robicheaux's precarious existence reaches breaking point when Alafair's life is threatened.
ShellyS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I suppose I got what I deserved, starting in mid-series. The mystery aspect was fine, but Robicheaux is mourning his wife and is rather pathetic as he wallows in his sorrow. This is a rather wordy effort and probably a third of the words could've been cut. Of course, some of the atmosphere would've been lost, but as is, it was no page-turner for me.
Tasker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My Three-Star rating to this Robicheaux probably doesn't give the proper credit to this book. I'm an avid fan of Mr. Burke so I have read each of his novels as they have been released over the last few years so I'm probably a little burned out with the character. However, having spent several months in the Missoula, Bonner, Flathead Lake areas of Montana quite a few years ago, I enjoyed reliving my experiences through Mr. Burke's descriptions of the area. Also, when I've finished the book, I'm glad things worked out for Dave.
GMac on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An ex-New Orleans cop comes up against Native Americans, oil company roughnecks, and Mafia honchos on the rugged Montana landscape. Number 3 in the series.
JBreedlove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Best Dave Robicheaux book so far. It is the 3rd in the series and tied up some of the looser ends from the first two books. Descriptive and generally well written. Robicheaux went from hunted to hunter a little fast but it was a good read.
mrtall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I know I should adore James Lee Burke's Robicheaux novels, so I keep plodding my way through them. But each time the same nagging doubts return:**Haven't I read this before? **Is it really possible for a middle-aged man to be simultaneously so superbutchtoughrowdy as Dave, and such a righteous force for Truth, Justice and The American Way?**Doesn't James Lee Burke look like a Stesoned Hobbit in his PR photos?Okay, I'll just stop. I know this series has many devoted fans, and deservedly so, I guess, but I just can't seem to connect with it.
debavp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's been a while since I read the first two and I had to stop this in the middle to read an Early Reviewer book. When I picked it back up a few days later it seemed to drag on. There is no doubt that Burke has a skill for detailing the environment. I just wish in this case he had put a bit more work into the Characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent . Burke takes the reader deep into life of each character. You are immersed in the drama and intensity of it all. Burke's descriptions of the landscape, the weather, and the details of the action, and emotional roller coaster on which the characters ride, is amazing. Just beautiful . One of his best. Meeting Mr. Burke is on my bucket list. Would love to take a writing class or workshop from him. Stan Scott Bowie, MD
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As good as ever.
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