Picks and Pans Review: Sunset Limited

updated 07/06/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/06/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by James Lee Burke

In his 10th outing, Cajun gumshoe Dave Robicheaux is caught in a series of crimes that tangle family secrets, Hollywood greed and racial history together like a burst of kudzu—a classic setting for the bestselling Burke (Cadillac Jukebox, Burning Angel). Hacking stubbornly through the painful silences of Dixie pride, Robicheaux, aided by his ex-New Orleans detective pal Clete Purcel, probes injustices from the barnside crucifixion of a labor organizer 40 years earlier to the current murder charge against a black man called Cool Breeze Broussard. An agile writer—his Cimarron Rose won the Edgar Allan Poe Award as 1997's best mystery novel—Burke rises to a new level here, alternating poetic nature descriptions with dialogue so sharp you can shave with it. (Double-day, $24.95)

Bottom Line: Splendidly atmospheric murder tale set in rural Louisiana

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