If ever a town was made for pulp fiction, it’s New Orleans: sweltering, corrupt, swampy, full of booze and whores and unfulfilled desire. In Purple Cane Road, his 19th novel and the latest to feature police detective Dave Robicheaux, Burke more than does justice to the atmosphere. Shaking down a pimp for some info, Robicheaux and his ex partner, still corrupt investigator Clete Purcell, find out that the death of Robicheaux’s mother years ago may not have been what it seemed.
While pursuing that angle, the two meander off into various subplots, including one about two orphaned girls who were sexually abused by a neighbor. Ultimately, Burke threads more plotlines through his narrative than there are in a Robert Altman film, only some of which he resolves satisfactorily.