James Lee Burke - The Tin Roof Blowdown

Bruce Turnbull 16/12/2007

Rating: 3/5

Well on his way to join the ranks of America's most prolific authors is bestselling crime writer James Lee Burke, and with his twenty-sixth novel, "The Tin Roof Blowdown", the distance of that ever encompassing road to stardom becomes smaller with each and every line. The sixteenth volume of the Dave Robicheaux series sees our acclaimed Louisiana detective investigating a double homicide in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. A war of emotional tides and felonious assaults erupts as the thriving city of New Orleans is reduced to a sodden mass of devastating detriment where the strong are overruled by a criminal empire and the weak are swept away under the chaos. A band of looters find themselves embroiled in a federal investigation as they stumble into the biggest score of their lives, unaware of the dangerous implications that follow.

When Robicheaux and his recalcitrant best friend Clete Purcel delve into the horror that has left their fair city a criminal breeding ground, their lives are put in jeopardy by a perverted sociopath hell bent on disrupting the peace at the Robicheaux household. Undoubtedly, "The Tin Roof Blowdown" is a disturbing read at times, especially when the narrative crosses the boarder of fiction, but nevertheless, the diverse characters and fiery dialogue make it difficult to put down, because hiding under the fa├žade of Robicheaux's personal anguish is the staple of American life at the heart of the damage caused in August 2005. Despite its obvious merits - and Burke's sophisticated style - the structure is lacking somewhat, lending the narrative an uneasy realisation. Certainly an involving read and one I'd recommend to anyone who likes their crime fiction erratic and slow burning.