Friday, October 4, 2013

In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead by James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke is hands down my favorite mystery writer. His Dave Robicheaux novels are among the best mysteries ever written--and they stand up well against the "literary" cannon.

I recently stumbled across the movie version of "Electric Mist" on cable. While I enjoyed the movie, especially Tommy Lee Jones as Dave and John Goodman as the mobbed up villain, I was driven to re-read the book. And, as I expected the movie pales in comparison to Burke's great writing. Burke's use of poetic language is a great lesson to anyone who aspires to write well.

In "In the Electric Mist...." a movie crew has come to New Iberia, bringing along with it the stars, wanna-be stars, hangers-on and groupies you might expect. In addition, this movie crew brings along its mob-connected backers. As the story begins, Dave arrests the movie's stars for drunk driving. From there things go down as Dave solves a 35 year old civil rights murder--with the encouragement of a company of Confederate ghosts. While ghosts might seem corny in a hard-boiled mystery, Burke carries off the magic realism beautifully, making the surreality an important part of the story. The story, as always with Burke, ends with a spiritual affirmation, if not a total triumph of good over evil.

I highly recommend this book as well as anything by James Lee Burke to readers of both hard-boiled mysteries and literary works.

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