Thursday, March 20, 2008

James Lee Burke-a-thon

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With my recent activities, you might think that all I've done is run around, but you'd be wrong. I have managed to make time in my busy schedule for reading.

On the recommendation of the lovely Newt, I read "Electric Mist With the Confedrate Dead", by James Lee Burke, and enjoyed it. As I always tend to do with an author I "discover", I wanted to read everything he has written. This turned out to be a tall order, as he has written LOTS of books. At any rate, I have immersed myself in them, and have worked my way through eight or nine of them.

He has two series'. In one, his main character is Dave Robichaux, sometime New Orleans cop, sometimes ex-cop. Mostly, the books are set in New Iberia, the town in which he grew up. In the second series, his main character is Billy Bob Holland, a lawyer and ex-Texas Ranger, who lives in Montana sometimes and in Texas sometimes.

The more books I have read, the more my interest has waned, I'm afraid. The books are formulaic in the extreme. Every Robichaux book follows the same plot, with only the names changed. Robichaux is in his 60s, and his past seems to be littered with broken hearts all the way back to his teens, and in each book, so far, there is at least one female character who is STILL carrying a torch for the great swordsman, and longs for another crack at him. In each book, Robichaux decides someone is a bad guy, and then sets out to pin the crime(s) on him and/or her. And, in each book, he turns out to be wrong to one degree or another. I blame this on the obvious location of his brain.

Robichaux is also skating on thin ethical ice as a cop. His violent nature sometimes makes him cross the line and he is either fired or suspended, but they always seem to take him back because he's just a damn good cop.

In the other series, Billy Bob Holland is a kinder, gentler, younger version of Robichaux, but he's no wuss, either. He has the same history with women who keep popping up with regularity from his past. Burke has applied the same basic formula with these books that he uses with the Robichaux books, changing the names and geography as needed. Billy Bob is slightly more likeable, but I have to admit, he would turn me off completely.

Why, oh why do the men who write these mysteries have to endow their main characters with almost super-virility? Is it for the same reason that they drive fancy sportscars and big hummers?

These books are entertaining enough, though I think I should have read something else between each one. I'm not saying I won't read another one, but it will be a while.

25 comments:

patsy said...

all men are fools. fools are men.

katy said...

i did the same with the Harlan Coben books but have learnt to read something else in between, and now i still love Coben

Newt said...

The Dave in my head is all things sexy so I get myself past his manly super-virility. For me it has been his descriptions and moments in the quiet times that keep me in love with JLB as an author. I've been reading the series for 12 years now, holy cow, can't believe it's been that long, so for me they are a year or so in between. I'm not sure even I, loving him as much as I do could do them all in a row.

Arkansas Songbird said...

I agree with you on James Lee Burke. I've read several of his books and the more I read the less I liked them.

Betty said...

patsy: Most women think so, don't they?

katy: I like the Coben books, too, but I didn't read eight of them, one after another.

newt: Reading so many in such a short time was a mistake. I do like his descriptions, and his readability.

arkansas songbird: I will keep reading his books - but I'll let a little time elapse between them. Right now, it's back to the cozies.

Jo said...

I think I liked your review much more than I'd like his books...there's enough of that fictional super-virility going on in my own household :P

patsy said...

I thought Richardson wanted to be hillary vice president, may he thinks Obama will take him.

Nancy said...

I agree with Patsy. She is right about Bill Richardson.

He was all for Hillary and thought she might choose him to be VP, but now that it looks like Obama MIGHT be the candidate, he has switched to him in the hopes of being HIS VP.

I think he would make a good VP for either of them.....

Betty said...

jo: His books are actually pretty good, if you can get past all that testosterone.

patsy: I think he probably told Bill and Hillary his reasons, and we may never know the real ones.

nancy: I have a feeling he was turned off by Hillary's blatant lies about her foreign policy experience and her increasingly negative campaigning. Even when the media point out her lies, with the tapes as proof, she still insists they are true. I guess she learned from the current administration that lies work and blatant lies work even better.

At any rate, I think Richardson would make a fine V.P. and an even better Sec'y of State.

Peggy said...

Happy Birthday Betty!

R.E.H. said...

Yeah, I saw the news over at Jay's - so I just had to hop on over and wish you a Happy Birthday!

katy said...

Happy Birthday for Monday Betty hope you have a lovely day x

Chancy said...

Happy Birthday Betty.

ordinaryjanet said...

It always disturbed me that Dave keeps getting beat up. I mean, he's getting too old for that kind of stuff. I haven't read the latest, I'm waiting for my mom to read it-I gave it to her when it came out and she's been saving it.

I always saw Tommy Lee Jones as Dave, the one with Alec Baldwin is terrible. I hope the one coming up with Jones is better.

ordinaryjanet said...

Oh, and Happy Birthday! Jay says it's your birthday Monday.

Can you get him to wash his car windshield?

Lu' said...

Stopping over from Jay's. Happy Birhtday. Many happy returns.

Chelle Y. said...

Happy Birthday, Jay's mommy! I hope you had a great day!

Jo said...

Happy Birthday, Betty! Hope you have a special day tomorrow---is Jay cooking? :)

Karen said...

Happy Birthday!

Dianne said...

Happy Birthday Betty!!

Have a wonderful day :)

susan said...

I tend to read a new-to-me author until I'm sick of them. You'd think I'd learn to space them out a bit.

Happy, Happy Birthday Betty!!!

CarmenSinCity said...

Happy Birthday Betty!!!!!!

Betty said...

Thank you all for your nice Birthday wishes. It was a good day, made better by your comments.

savannah said...

wow, happy belated birthday, sugar!

i stopped here before jay's, so the plan was to comment about james lee burke. i totally argee with you about him being formulaic, but he is entertaining! (i do the same thing you do, discover a writer and then want to read EVERYTHING...)

xox

Newt said...

Happy Birthday. Belated. I don't know what distracted me between Jay's post and coming on over here. Maybe it was the smell of cake........