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Jolie Blon's Bounce    by James Lee Burke Amazon.com order for
Jolie Blon's Bounce
by James Lee Burke
Order:  USA  Can
Pocket, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Aside from Joanne Harris, James Lee Burke is my favorite author. While Harris writes mainstream with a faint luscious current of mystery, Burke pens tough hitting police procedurals that reek of realism. And he describes his corner of Louisiana with an eye that encaptures the very essence of the beauty around him, his wonderful verbiage reflecting his love of life.

Police detective Dave Robicheaux is presented with a case that could tear the community of New Iberia apart the ugly rape and murder of a white teenager. The suspects belong to his everyday life. That doesn't mean he has to like them, but he does have to live in their midst. Past histories are dug up to explain current actions. Robicheaux is a strange mixture of a sensitive nature coupled with a past that he must contain. In his words, 'I knew that for all of us who had been there the war would never be over and the real enemy was not Jimmy Sty but a violent creature who rose with me in the morning and lived quietly inside my skin, waiting for the proper moment to vent his rage upon the world.'

Despite all his anger, Robicheaux can still appreciate the beauty around him. On a fishing trip, 'The sun was a red cinder through the canopy, the wind down, the water so still inside the shelter of the trees you could hear the bream and the goggle-eyed perch popping along the edge of the hyacinths.' Burke (through Robicheaux) manages to state his view of war and its aftermath eloquently, 'There was no place for him, really. He was trapped inside memories that no human being should have to bear, and he would do the time and carry the cross for those makers of foreign and military policy who long ago had written their memoirs and appeared on televised Sunday-morning book promotions and moved on in their careers.'

Burke paints word pictures with a beautiful brush. He places the reader in the scene with a mere flick of his computer keys. One can almost smell the dankness of the swamp and feel the breezes off the water on the skin. It's hard to believe we have the use of the same words he does. It's what he does with them that produces such monumental work. Burke writes powerfully about his place in the world while still managing to give us a rip-snortingly good, fast-paced, action packed story that bristles with talent that of a man at the pinnacle of his profession. Read Jolie Blon's Bounce and then join me in asking James Lee Burke for more.

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