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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of July 12, 2010

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With the surfeit of new novels available this week, fiction gets a second summer wind…

The Glass Rainbow (Dave Robicheaux Series #18)
by James Lee Burke

If the evocation of the Louisiana bayous become almost a sensory experience of sight, sounds, and smell in James Lee Burke's new Robicheaux novel The Glass Rainbow (Dave Robicheaux Series #18), and death is a constant presence, it may be that such suggestions were not too far from being instant ripped-from-the-headlines memory joggers, spurred on by reflection upon the damage that’s occurred from the gulf oil spill, and of speculation of more devastation to come as it moves closer to the shoreline.

“It was like the Garden of Eden back in those marshes years ago,” he says of the Atchafalaya Basin, the nation’s largest swamp. “I thought it was the most beautiful place in the United States. At sunrise there would be this stillness, like the first day of Creation, and the sun looked like cotton candy inside the cypress trees.”
“That’s all going down the drain because of what’s occurred.”

What occurs in Burke’s 18th entry in the multi-Edgar Award winner’s successful crime fiction series featuring the Iberia, Louisiana deputy sheriff Dave Robicheaux starts with the brutal and gruesome murders of seven young women in neighboring Jefferson Davis. While many signs point to the work of a serial killer, the death of high school honor student Bernadette Latiolais doesn’t fit the pattern of the marginalized victim psychopaths usually prey upon. The determined and resourceful Robicheaux and his buddy Clete Purcel confront pimp Herman Stanga, but the case falters when Stanga turns up dead after being beat up by Purcel, and Clete’s career and life is put in jeopardy.

If taking his work home with him isn't bad enough, the personal implications of Robicheaux’ harrowing and hazardous cases redouble when more of the detective’s work is already waiting for him at home after he punches out for the day. This becomes especially distressing when his daughter Alafair, home from Stanford Law to work on her novel, falls under the influence of Kermit Abelard, eminent novelist and scion of a downward-spiraling dysfunctional Louisiana family whose fortunes are crumbling under the forces of corruption. Abelard’s association with bestselling ex-convict author Robert Weingart, a man who uses and exploits most everyone he knows, triggers paranoia within Robicheaux who fears for the safety and well-being of Alafair.

In chronicling the twists and turns of the storyline and detailing the characterization of The Glass Rainbow, Burke, with redolent and melancholic prose and an overarching concern with the past — containing more than trace evidence of Faulknerian influence – promises an enriching and compelling mystery and thriller perfect for a rewarding summer read.

 
MORE FICTION

Incarceron
by Catherine Fisher

Faithful Place
by Tana French

Live to Tell (Detective D. D. Warren Series #4)
by Lisa Gardner

Lucy
by Laurence Gonzales

Blackest Night
by Geoff Johns

Damaged (Maggie O'Dell Series #8)
by Alex Kava

Tongues of Serpents of Temeraire

by Naomi Novik

Rules of Betrayal
by Christopher Reich

Corduroy Mansions
by Alexander McCall Smith

Linger
by Maggie Stiefvater

Red Hook Road
by Ayelet Waldman

Fly Away Home
by Jennifer Weiner

Captive Queen of Eleanor of Aquitaine
by Alison Weir

NONFICTION

The Obama Diaries
by Laura Ingraham

Why Europe?: The Medieval Origins of Its Special Path
by Michael Mitterauer, Gerald Chapple

Talking to Girls about Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut
by Rob Sheffield

In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving
by Leigh Anne Tuohy, Sean Tuohy, Sally Jenkins   

Autobiography of Mark Twain: Volume 1, The Complete and Authoritative Edition
by Mark Twain

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