The God-Haunted Characters of James Lee Burke | America MagazineAn American institution almost in his own right, the author James Lee Burke is a highly influential novelist of much celebrated crime fiction. Creating lasting and iconic characters with an enduring appeal, he has built a worldwide audience due to his highly unique brand of Americana. Understanding the genre perfectly he knows how to really get inside the minds of his characters and see what makes them tick. One such character is that of Dave Robicheaux, a leading protagonist with his own series of crime novels under the same name. Previously working for the New Orleans Police Department, he soon found himself being transferred to New Iberia in Louisiana, largely due to him constantly flouting numerous ethical codes.
Perceptions and Misconceptions in James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux Novels
Anyone who is familiar with James Lee Burke and his fictional character, detective Dave Robicheaux, knows of New Iberia and our fascinating blend of heritage, hospitality and history. Burke spent his summers in New Iberia with relatives, playing and fishing in the many water holes that populate the area. His family's hometown is clearly very dear to him, as evidenced by the prominent part that his fictionalized version of New Iberia plays in each of his novels. Burke says his favorite place in New Iberia is Main Street, where his grandfather once lived. The Main Street that Burke describes as the most beautiful in the country is just part of the attraction of New Iberia, a city which has "southern manners and at the same time is a first-name kind of place. The scene looks like a postcard mailed from the nineteenth century. Burke, who lives in Missoula, Montana, visits often for book signings.
Dave Robicheaux is a haunted man. From the acts he committed in Vietnam, to his battles with alcoholism, to the sudden loss of his beloved wife, Molly, his thoughts drift from one irreconcilable memory to the next. Images of ghosts pepper his reality. Tony thinks Jimmy can be a US Senator someday, and has the resources and clout to make it happen. He lives in Missoula, Montana. We tend to forget, however, that he is no slouch at plotting and at constructing hold-your-breath action scenes.
In , a relatively unknown author put out a detective novel titled The Neon Rain. It featured a detective named Dave Robicheaux, a complex, flawed character who seemed to spend as much time struggling with his own inner demons as he did battling the criminals who frequented his decidedly sleazy New Orleans landscape. By the end of the novel, Robicheaux had returned to his native New Iberia, a small town in rural southwestern Louisiana that is situated in one of the twenty-two parishes making up Acadiana, or Cajun country. James Lee Burke writes Robicheaux as a character whose Cajun identity is as strong as his identity as a detective. It is a major factor in the popularity of the books. Burke emphasizes Robicheaux's "Cajun-ness" in several different ways, using a variety of cultural markers.
Dave Robicheaux (pronounced "Row-bih-show") is a fictional character in a series of mystery novels by American crime writer James Lee Burke.
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When the opportunity first came up, I leaped at the chance to ask the iconic author a few questions. I bought a yellow legal pad and ballpoint walked down to an outdoor Italian restaurant across the boulevard from a Catholic church , and sat down and starting writing the first chapter of TNR. I knew it was going to change my career. I knew it and so did my old friend Charles Willeford, to whom I sent the first two chapters. I also knew details of the murderous policies that were at work in Guatemala and El Salvador, including the murder of the Maryknoll women and Father Stan Rother. Was that on purpose, and what about the culture do you think makes it work so well in your books? It a microcosm of our entire history.