Black Cherry Blues

Reviewed: September 12, 2006
By: James Lee Burke / read by Will Patton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
2 cassettes, 3 hours, $14.98

Black Cherry Blues appears to be the third volume in the Dave Robicheaux series, one that sees Dave trying to pick up the pieces of his shattered life after the death of his first wife. In Dave’s personal history this takes place after he resigned from the police force in New Orleans, but before he started working for the sheriff's office in New Iberia parish. At this point he is living in the house his father built on the bayou, running a fish and tackle business, trying to raise his adopted daughter, Alafair.

Into his life wanders Dixie Lee Pughe, a one time legendary rockabilly/blues star something like a cross between Robert Johnson and Jerry Lee Lewis. Pughe is an alcoholic, the weakness that Dave refuses to give in to, and is serious trouble, though he really is in too deep to know how bad it is.

Dave ends up investigating Pughe’s problems, finds himself looking into the deaths of two Indian activists from Montana, gets himself arrested, and finally has to move to Montana for a time while on bail to follow up all the loose ends of this case.

There are Mafia thugs and dirty deals in oil. There is Dave’s former New Orleans PD partner, Clete Purcell, a brutal, loyal man with very little self-restraint.

Because this is an audio tape, there is Will Patton, doing his usual great job of capturing the voices and the mood of this tense mystery.

Black Cherry Blues won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best mystery of the year when it was first published in 1989.