Heaven's Prisoners by James Lee Burke

Heaven's Prisoners - James Lee Burke

'Most people think of violence as an abstraction. It never is. It's always ugly, it always demeans and dehumanises, it always shocks and repels and leaves the witnesses to it sick and shaken. It's meant to do all those things.'


Heaven's Prisoners is the second in the Dave Robicheaux series by James Lee Burke and while not as powerful as Neon Rain, it's still a bloody intense story.


Robicheaux has left the New Orleans PD and bought a boat and bait business on a bayou in New Iberia. Now married to Anne Ballard, life is quiet, relaxing, but one thing I've come to learn about Dave Robicheaux, serenity is fleeting and tribulation is never far away.


Dave and his wife are out boating on the gulf when they see a plane plummet into the water, he goes to help but the four adults are already dead, he is able to rescue one young girl who they sort of adopt and name Alafair, she becomes a part of their family. He is questioned by the authorities and it becomes obvious a cover up is underway but why? He starts to investigate, against his wife's wishes and soon enough there's a tornado of trouble heading his way. But he just can't leave things be and it costs him dear.


Robicheaux is no longer under the restraints of the law and he throws himself into potentially violent situations with reckless abandon, the adrenalin, the danger and the sense of righteousness all seemingly addictive but at what expense.


He's a brilliant character but there's a few minor flaws in this story, when tragedy occurs the recovering alcoholic once again jumps of the proverbial wagon. Exactly like he did in the first story when I was intensely disappointed with him, this time it was almost expected along with the spur to once again kick it. With what happens you can't help but think he brings it on himself, leading to an intense sadness but he's a character who'll never change, resolute and confrontational as ever, and it makes for a gripping read. His meddling and refusal to walk away being the primary driver to everything bad that happens. There's a hell of a lot of revenge action going on inevitably followed by retaliation and of course it is our hero who risks most. It all comes down to three woman and an old school friend, one a crime lord known as Bubba Rock, Bubba's extremely dangerous and promiscuous wife, a prostitute that Dave helps out after getting her in trouble and his very own wife.


I love James Lee Burke's stuff but I'm hoping there's not a standard template to this series because if he hits the bottle in the next book I think I'll scream. And if I hear the word Bayou once more then that's fucking it, when you read your mind can gloss over repeated use of words but in audio it's there, more pronounced and in your face, you can't ignore it. So I'm on Black Cherry Blues already and things are looking good so far, let's hope it stays that way.