Mystery DNF: ‘The Neon Rain’ by James Lee Burke

March 12, 2015 Review 0

Thank goodness, was my first thought, when this came up as the monthly choice for my reading group. A detective novel – now that’s something I’ll enjoy. Boy, was I wrong. This is a male fantasy book: a cop who swans around talking big to all sorts of lowlifes, and then gets captured/beaten up/tortured many times, which he miraculously survives. It’s full of blokes who act tough and beat each other up (both cops and villains), women who are either murder victims or whores, villains who are moustache-twirling caricatures, a main character who survives impossible levels of violence and survives/escapes through sheer dumb luck…

There are some good points. The setting of New Orleans is beautifully evoked with a multitude of small details, great use of dialect and an atmosphere so thick you can feel the sweat dripping down your back. You could argue that it’s a tad overdone, but, having lived in Texas at one time, I enjoyed some of the southern references (the ones I could get; a lot of it whooshed past me).

There was a kind of a plot. A black woman had been found dead in a bayou, and the cop is convinced she’s been murdered, while no one else seems very interested. However, the story takes second place to the chest-beating hero bantering aggressively with the villains, and a vast assortment of violence. I got halfway through before giving up. One star for a DNF. For anyone who doesn’t mind the macho posturing and constant violence, this is the start of a whole series, and loads of people seem to love them (just not me, sadly).

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