Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Swan Peak by James Lee Burke

One of the reasons I enjoy James Lee Burke's novels is that, in the midst of some great detective fiction, he also manages to weave some beautiful prose and philosophical observations. This book was no different, and if anything it took a more reflective tone than some of the others in the series. I also liked how in Swan Peak the author returns to the scene of one of the earlier novels in the series (and the first Dave Robicheaux novel I ever read), but does so in a way where, if you haven't read that earlier book, it doesn't take away from your enjoyment of this book.

I also have to say that, whereas in most first person books it irritates me when the authors veer into other points of view, Burke manages to delve into the heads of multiple characters without it disrupting the flow of the book. He manages to make it feel organic, something few other writers accomplish when attempting the same feat.

That said, this one was a little disappointing in how little Dave and his partner Clete Purcel actually do in this one, and they almost seemed to be bystanders in their own story at times. There are also some signs of age in the characters, and although I admire Burke for keeping his characters grounded to their timeline, Vietnam has become less and less relevant as the years progress, dating the characters somewhat (not to mention you start doing the math on the age of the characters and, well, these are getting to be some spry senior citizens). All that said, where a lot of other series have worn tired and threadbare over the decades, all of these continue to be excellent reads, and when the time comes when the series comes to a close I will miss it.