Light of the World by James Lee Burke

Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel are joined by their daughters as they battle evil in the hills and valleys of Montana.

Light of the World, James Lee Burke’s 20th novel starring Louisiana detective Dave Robicheaux, returns to the Montana hill setting of 2008’s Swan Peak. Fans will be thrilled to find Robicheaux and Clete Purcel joined by their respective adult daughters in a hard-hitting, intense battle between good and evil. Burke’s writing is poetic–reverential in praise of natural beauty, contemplative of human nature–and invokes a strong sense of place. Clete, the rough-and-ready, hard-drinking, softhearted private investigator, is lovable as ever; Robicheaux is the flawed hero who has charmed us from the first, fighting his demons and protecting his clan.

Years ago, Dave’s daughter, Alafair, visited serial killer Asa Surette in prison to interview him for a book she never wrote. Instead, she published a condemning series of articles advocating the death penalty. Later, Surette was killed in a collision with a gasoline tanker. So why is he now lurking around the cabins in Big Sky Country where Robicheaux, Clete and their families are trying to relax? The evil in this powerful story of suspense has supernatural undertones, as wolves skulk in the woods above the ranch and planes fall out of the sky. Alafair teams up with Clete’s daughter, the reforming New Orleans hitwoman Gretchen Horowitz, and they make as remarkable a pair as their fathers. As the story unfolds, a rodeo cowboy who speaks in tongues, a serial killer who should be dead, ex-cons, rapists, bear traps and evil that dwells in caves in the hills all come together in perhaps the greatest showdown of Burke’s career.

This review originally ran in the July 30, 2013 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!

Rating: 8 howls.

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