James Burke: Robicheaux

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  • Название:
    Robicheaux
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Simon & Schuster
  • Жанр:
    Криминальный детектив / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2018
  • Город:
    New York
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-1-5011-7684-5
  • Рейтинг книги:
    3 / 5
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Robicheaux: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Dave Robicheaux is a haunted man. Between his recurrent nightmares about Vietnam, his battle with alcoholism, and the sudden loss of his beloved wife, Molly, his thoughts drift from one irreconcilable memory to the next. Images of ghosts at Spanish Lake live on the edge of his vision. During a murder investigation, Dave Robicheaux discovers he may have committed the homicide he’s investigating, one which involved the death of the man who took the life of Dave’s beloved wife. As he works to clear his name and make sense of the murder, Robicheaux encounters a cast of characters and a resurgence of dark social forces that threaten to destroy all of those whom he loves. What emerges is not only a propulsive and thrilling novel, but a harrowing study of America: this nation’s abiding conflict between a sense of past grandeur and a legacy of shame, its easy seduction by demagogues and wealth, and its predilection for violence and revenge. James Lee Burke has returned with one of America’s favorite characters, in his most searing, most prescient novel to date.

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Robicheaux читать онлайн бесплатно

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James Lee Burke

Robicheaux

With gratitude to Barbara Theroux and McKenna Jordan for their support of my work over the many years

Autor’s Note

The literary antecedents of this novel lie in two earlier works of mine. The unsolved murders in Jefferson Davis Parish formed the backdrop for the Dave Robicheaux novel titled The Glass Rainbow, published by Simon & Schuster in 2010. These homicides are often referred to in the media as the Jeff Davis Eight.

The bombing of the Indian village in Latin America happened in 1956. I wrote about this incident in the short story titled “The Wild Side of Life,” published in the winter issue of The Southern Review in 2017.

Chapter 1

Like an early nineteenth-century poet, when I have melancholy moments and feel the world is too much for us and that late and soon we lay waste to our powers in getting and spending, I’m forced to pause and reflect upon my experiences with the dead and the hold they exert on our lives.

This may seem a macabre perspective on one’s life, but at a certain point it seems to be the only one we have. Mortality is not kind, and do not let anyone tell you it is. If there is such a thing as wisdom, and I have serious doubts about its presence in my own life, it lies in the acceptance of the human condition and perhaps the knowledge that those who have passed on are still with us, out there in the mist, showing us the way, sometimes uttering a word of caution from the shadows, sometimes visiting us in our sleep, as bright as a candle burning inside a basement that has no windows.

On a winter morning, among white clouds of fog out at Spanish Lake, I would see the boys in butternut splashing their way through the flooded cypress, their muskets held above their heads, their equipment tied with rags so it wouldn’t rattle. I was standing no more than ten feet from them, although they took no notice of me, as though they knew I had not been born yet, and their travail and sacrifice were not mine to bear.

Their faces were lean from privation, as pale as wax, their hair uncut, the rents in their uniforms stitched clumsily with string. Their mouths were pinched, their eyes luminous with caution. The youngest soldier, a drummer boy, could not have been older than twelve. On one occasion I stepped into the water to join them. Even then, none acknowledged my presence. The drummer boy stumbled and couldn’t right himself, struggling with the leather strap around his neck and the weight of his drum. I reached out to help him and felt my hand and arm sink through his shoulder. A shaft of sunlight pierced the canopy, turning the fog into white silk; in less than a second the column was gone.

Long ago, I ceased trying to explain events such as these to either myself or others. Like many my age, I believe people in groups are to be feared and that arguing with others is folly and the knowledge of one generation cannot be passed down to the next. Those may seem cynical sentiments, but there are certain truths you keep inside you and do not defend lest you cheapen and then lose them altogether. Those truths have less to do with the dead than the awareness that we are no different from them, that they are still with us and we are still with them, and there is no afterlife but only one life, a continuum in which all time occurs at once, like a dream inside the mind of God.

Why should an old man thrice widowed dwell on things that are not demonstrable and have nothing to do with a reasonable view of the world? Because only yesterday, on a broken sidewalk in a shabby neighborhood at the bottom of St. Claude Avenue, in the Lower Ninth Ward of St. Bernard Parish, under a colonnade that was still twisted out of shape by Katrina, across from a liquor store with barred windows that stood under a live oak probably two hundred years old, I saw a platoon of Confederate infantry march out of a field to the tune of “Darling Nelly Gray” and disappear through the wall of a gutted building and not exit on the other side.


The man I came to see was Fat Tony Nemo, also known as Tony the Nose, Tony Squid, or Tony Nine Ball, the latter not because he was a pool shark but because he packed a nine ball into a bartender’s mouth with the butt of a pool cue. Of course, that was during his earlier incarnation, when he was a collector for Didoni Giacano and the two of them used to drive around New Orleans in Didi’s Caddy convertible, terrifying whoever couldn’t make the weekly vig, a bloodstained baseball bat propped up in the backseat. Currently, Fat Tony was involved in politics and narcotics and porn and casinos and Hollywood movies and the concrete business. He had also laundered money for the Triads in Hong Kong and helped Somoza’s greaseballs introduce crack cocaine to America’s inner cities. In terms of territory, he had fingers in pies all over Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. If he had any sense of morality or fear about a judgment down the track, I never saw it.

So why would a semi-retired sheriff’s detective from Iberia Parish want to make a social call on a psychopath like Tony Squid? Simple. Most investigative cops, often without knowing who Niccolò Machiavelli was, adhere to his admonition to keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Less simple is the fact that we share much of the same culture as the lowlifes, and we are more alike than different, and the information they give us is indispensable.

Fat Tony was sitting in a swivel chair behind his desk when I entered his office. No, that’s not correct. Tony didn’t sit; he piled himself into a chair or on a couch like a gelatinous heap of whale sperm thrown on a beach, except he was wearing a blue suit with a red boutonniere in the lapel. A sword with a scrolled brass guard in a plain metal scabbard lay across his ink pad. “I’m glad you could come, Dave. You never disappoint. That’s why I like you,” he wheezed.

“What’s the haps, Tony?”

“I’m on an oxygen bottle. I’m scheduled for a colostomy. I couldn’t get laid in a whorehouse that has an ATM. My wife tells me I got a serious case of GAPO. Otherwise, I’m doing great. What kind of question is that?” He had to catch his breath before he could continue. “Want a drink?”

“No, thanks. What’s GAPO?”

“Gorilla armpit odor. You still on the wagon?”

“I’m still in A.A., if that’s what you mean.”

“The same thing, right?”

“No.”

“Whatever. Take Clete Purcel to a meeting with you.”

“What’s Clete done?”

“What hasn’t he done? He’s a fucking cancer on the whole city. He should have a steel codpiece locked on his body so he can’t reproduce.”

“How can I help you, Tony?”

“Maybe I can help you. I heard about your wife.”

“I appreciate your concern. I need to get back to New Iberia.”

“She got killed in an accident?”

I nodded.

“What, about three months ago?”

“Two years. She was T-boned by a guy in a pickup. I’d rather talk about something else.”

He handed me the sword. “I got this at a flea market in Memphis. I asked an expert what it’s worth. He said he’d take if off my hands for three thousand. The real value, what is it?”

“I wouldn’t know.”

“You know about history, what the names of these places on the hilt mean, whether those places make the sword more valuable. What’s this Cemetery Hill stuff? Who fights a war in a fucking cemetery?”

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