Thursday, September 10, 2020

A Private Cathedral


A Private Cathedral is the 23rd Dave Robicheaux novel by James Lee Burke. Released 11th Aug 2020 by Simon & Schuster, it's 384 pages and available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

The first thing that struck me whilst reading this book was the vividly eloquent prose. The author is one of a handful of writers living or dead who can reasonably be compared to Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and their peers. It really is that good. The second thing which struck me was the over the top casual violence. There's physical violence aplenty, people getting jumped on, stomped on, stabbed, stapled, and otherwise mutilated. There's spiritual violence in abundance, substance abuse, racism, actual honest would-be nazis (I refuse to capitalize the word), soul crushing despair and some cameos from the supernatural realm. The whole is a synergistic voodoo soup of the Human Condition. It's also more than a nod to Shakespeare and from anyone else would be a pathetic travesty, but this author just about manages to carry it off.

For readers who are familiar with the series and/or the author, this is more of what you love best about his work. For readers who are unfamiliar, the book works moderately well as a standalone; the author is adept enough at his craft to supply the necessary backstory without spoon feeding or info-dumping. Extreme graphic violence and language warnings. For "read alike" fans, this will appeal to fans of Hap & Leonard (though there's more comedy with H&L than you'll find here), Travis McGee (lots more violence, though), Spenser (more violent and with more graphic language). 

Gorgeously lush bayou gothic with a slight paranormal horror element.  Five stars. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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