Stained White Radiance, A

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Stained White Radiance, A Powered By Docstoc
					"A Stained White Radiance," published in 1992, is fifth in James Lee Burke's highly
popular Dave Robicheaux series. It bears some family resemblance to the others,
particularly in Burke's remarkable ability to make his home country-- New Orleans and
its surround, Southern Louisiana-- sing. His descriptions of its landscape, animal,
vegetable and mineral, are so deeply felt, that people who have never been closer to New
Orleans than Chicago can sense its morning aromas, its approaching storms and
nighttime skies.

There are further family resemblances, to be sure. Robicheaux is married to second wife
Bootsie, whom he knows, as he does most people in his world, from high school or
before. Bootsie suffers from lupus. The detective has quietly, unofficially adopted orphan
Alafair; she keeps a three-legged raccoon, called Tripod, as a pet. Robicheaux owns a
bait shop that Batist, longtime black family servant, manages. The detective is with the
New Iberia police department, as he's been kicked off the New Orleans department. He's
still battling his demons: drink, dark memories of Vietnam. His cases generally lead him
to the dark side, often to New Orleans, frequently to conflict with the local mafia. When
he needs to, he calls upon Clete Purcell, his former partner at NOPD, who's been
excommunicated from the department, as he has. Purcell's a heavy, sunburnt, Irish
Channel kind of guy, eats too much, smokes and drinks too much, drives an old Cadillac,
and lets his anger out to play too frequently. Robicheaux's cases often, as this one,
involve present-day outgrowths of hidden, long-ago misdeeds. The family resemblance
continues in that the case in this book centers, as so many of the author's do, around the
detective's childhood friends, the Cajun Sonnier family, that are ineradicably marked by
the harsh abuse they suffered in childhood. The case also centers on the murder of a local
cop. When Robicheaux finally clears the murder in his usual fashion, with a high body
count, his supervisor will tell him, "I think you wrote your signature on this case with a
baseball bat, Dave." Sometimes he does.

However, in this book, Robicheaux is unable to reach the man he really wants to bring
down. He muses, " I was guilty of that age-old presumption that the origins of social evil
can be traced to villainous individuals, that we just need to identify them, lock them in
cages, or even march them to the executioner's wall, and this time, yes, this time, we'll
catch a fresh breeze in our sails and set ourselves on a true course." Doesn't mean he
doesn't keep trying.

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