Review

Pegasus Descending: A Dave Robicheaux Novel

by James Lee Burke



Dave Robicheaux, an aging deputy with the New Iberia, Louisiana
sheriff's department, is drawn into investigating the apparent
suicide of a lovely young coed.  The incident creates ripples
that flow like widening circles approaching the murky shallows of a
still pond. Mobbed-up casino owners, a beautiful grifter with a
grudge, stable boys and frat boys surface as his search for the
truth widens.

The sensual atmospheric and emotional tension swirling around the
eccentric villains, heroes and anti-heroes Dave has collected in
his checkered, bourbon-soaked past never has been more artfully
portrayed than in PEGASUS DESCENDING. There are a few new villains,
but many are holding court with memorable heavies from one or more
of James Lee Burke's 14 previous Robicheaux novels. As in
CRUSADER'S CROSS, Dave seems bent on personal redemption as he
tries to right a wrong in pursuit of the bad guys, often bringing
along one of the baddest, his buddy and ex-NOPD partner Clete
Purcell, to even the score.

No other contemporary detective fiction writer can imbue a novel
with as many labyrinthine plot twists and action and still flesh
out characters in such vivid and entertaining detail. An indigent
bottle-and-can collector may be a witness to an act leading up to
the death of the young woman. Dave seeks help from Monarch Little,
a black drug dealer, in contacting him:

"The bottle-and-can collector was named Ripton Armentor. As Monarch
had said, he looked like he had been assembled from a box of
discarded spare parts. His shoulders were square, his chest flat as
an ironing board, and his torso too long for his legs, so that his
trousers looked like they had been taken off a midget. Worse yet,
his head was not much larger than a shot put. And as though he were
deliberately trying to compete with the physical incongruities fate
had imposed upon him, he wore a neatly pressed blue denim shirt
with a necktie that extended all the way to his belt, giving him
the appearance of an inverted exclamation mark. He sat on the top
step of his gallery and listened to Monarch explain who I was and
what I wanted, the cane fields around his house swirling with wind.
It was obvious he was retarded or autistic, but paradoxically his
expression was electric, one of fascination with the intrigue and
sense of adventure that had been brought to his front door."

Killer Hurricane Katrina hovers in the Atlantic, then inexorably
stalks the Louisiana coast as the case draws to a close. PEGASUS
DESCENDING is more than a novel filled with action, suspense,
violence and (yes, even for Medicare card-bearers Dave and Clete) a
little sweet sex. It is an elegy, perhaps a requiem, for his
beloved New Orleans and the Louisiana bayous he has so lovingly
portrayed for over 20 years. The reader almost can hear the echoes
of Dave's youth flowing out the open doors of jazz halls and the
bawdy parades along New Orleans's historic streets. We can sense
the rustling leaves and far-off thunder across the bayous dimpled
with rain and surfacing catfish.

The saga of Dave Robicheaux has not ended. A magnetic attraction
for trouble is so much a part of Dave's psyche that readers can
curl up with confidence and escape into the seamy, steamy world of
vividly portrayed characters, spun through Burke's exquisite prose.
Burke regularly summons Dave's past ghosts, provokes present
dangers and portends future consequences. As he laments at the end
of the book, "If age brings either wisdom or answers to ancient
questions, it has made an exception for me."

Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 14, 2011

Pegasus Descending: A Dave Robicheaux Novel
by James Lee Burke

  • Publication Date: August 28, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star
  • ISBN-10: 1416513450
  • ISBN-13: 9781416513452