BOOK REVIEW

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CRUSADER'S CROSS - JAMES LEE BURKE

Burke's protagonist, Dave Robicheaux, is a man troubled by a long, violent personal history.  Although Dave found sobriety in a very early book in this series, the tendencies which fed his alcoholism still haunt him and  lead him into trouble.

Recently widowed and living in the aftermath of the destruction of his boyhood home, Dave now lives alone with the memories of his boyhood, his working days as a cop and sheriff's deputy, and his wife.

A string of murders baffles local law enforcement, and Dave returns to a part time assignment in the sheriff's office of New Iberia Parish.  A death bed confession by a two bit crook calls up long buried memories of a carefree summer in the 1950's when Dave and his brother had their entire lives stretched out in front of them.  They both still recall a brief encounter with a beautiful young woman.

In Burke's long established style - highly placed and well known personages in the area begin to play a more and more ominous role in Dave's day to day life, and the search for the serial killer becomes entwined with the unknown fate of the young woman from the 1950's.

ALthough the title CRUSADER'S CROSS is first used to refer to the crest of the wealthy family which intrigues Dave, the reader also realizes that the weight of Dave's personal history and his persistence in walking where angels fear to tread is a cross he bears.  And references to the personal cost paid by the young men who served in Vietnam raises the inevitable questions of what long term agonies lie in wait for the men and women now overseas in the Middle East.

Burke is well known for lush descriptive prose.  In prior novels I have felt that his descriptions began to drag on the story.  In CRUSADER'S CROSS the rich passages still are present but they serve to enhance the story not overwhelm it.

REVIEWED BY WOODSTOCK

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, WOODSTOCK

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