Swan Peak

Swan Peak

4.1 (6,469 ratings by Goodreads)
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'With its trademark mix of brutality and poetry, Swan Peak is a brilliant piece of work from an American master.' Observer

After the devastating events recounted in THE TIN ROOF BLOWDOWN, Dave Robicheaux and his ex-partner in Homicide, Clete Purcel, head for the mountains and trout streams of Montana for some much-needed healing.

However, while Montana might seem an unspoilt paradise peopled by men and women from an earlier, more innocent time in American history, Dave and Clete soon find that there are plenty of serpents in the garden too. The deaths of a couple of hikers suggest a perverted serial killer may be at work, while an escaped jailbird and his former tormentor are locked in a savage dance of revenge that is ultimately connected to the fortunes of a wealthy oil family hiding a terrible secret ...

Praise for one of the great American crime writers, James Lee Burke:

'James Lee Burke is the heavyweight champ, a great American novelist whose work, taken individually or as a whole, is unsurpassed.' Michael Connelly

'A gorgeous prose stylist.' Stephen King

'Richly deserves to be described now as one of the finest crime writers America has ever produced.' Daily Mail

Fans of Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly and Don Winslow will love James Lee Burke:

Dave Robicheaux Series

1. The Neon Rain
2. Heaven's Prisoners
3. Black Cherry Blues
4. A Morning for Flamingos
5. A Stained White Radiance
6. In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead
7. Dixie City Jam
8. Burning Angel
9. Cadillac Jukebox
10. Sunset Limited
11. Purple Cane Road
12. Jolie Blon's Bounce
13. Last Car to Elysian Fields
14. Crusader's Cross
15. Pegasus Descending
16. The Tin Roof Blowdown
17. Swan Peak
18. The Glass Rainbow
19. Creole Belle
20. Light of the World
21. Robicheaux

Hackberry Holland Series

1. Lay Down My Sword and Shield
2. Rain Gods
3. Feast Day of Fools
4. House of the Rising Sun

Billy Bob Holland Series

1. Cimarron Rose
2. Heartwood
3. Bitterroot
4. In The Moon of Red Ponies

* Each James Lee Burke novel can be read as a standalone or in series order *
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Product details

  • Paperback | 512 pages
  • 130 x 199 x 34mm | 420g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 075382602X
  • 9780753826027
  • 154,676

Review quote

When it comes to literate, pungently characterised American crime writing, James Lee Burke has few peers. * Daily Express * One of the finest American writers. * Guardian * His lyrical prose, his deep understanding of what makes people behave as they do, and his control of plot and pace are masterly. * Sunday Telegraph * The king of Southern noir. * Daily Mirror * There are not many crime writers about whom one might invoke the name of Zola for comparison, but Burke is very much in that territory. His stamping ground is the Gulf coast, and one of the great strengths of his work has always been the atmospheric background of New Orleans and the bayous. His big, baggy novels are always about much more than the mechanics of the detective plot; his real subject, like the French master, is the human condition, seen in every situation of society. * Independent * The gentle giant of US crime writers, Burke always ensures that his Louisiana detective Dave Robicheaux grapples with hot topics as much as with his own inner demons. * i newspaper * Richly deserves to be described now as one of the finest crime writers America has ever produced. * Daily Mail * A gorgeous prose stylist. * Stephen King * James Lee Burke is the heavyweight champ, a great American novelist whose work, taken individually or as a whole, is unsurpassed. * Michael Connelly * With its trademark mix of brutality and poetry, Swan Peak is a brilliant piece of work from an American master. * Observer *
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About James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke is the author of many previous novels, many featuring Detective Dave Robicheaux. He won the EDGAR AWARD in 1998 for CIMARRON ROSE, while BLACK CHERRY BLUES won the EDGAR in 1990 and SUNSET LIMITED was awarded the CWA GOLD DAGGER in 1998. He lives with his wife, Pearl, in Missoula, Montana and New Iberia, Louisiana.

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Rating details

6,469 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 37% (2,392)
4 41% (2,650)
3 18% (1,182)
2 3% (181)
1 1% (64)

Our customer reviews

James Lee Burke is one of my favorite writers. His prose is eloquent, quotable, and graphic. He views the world from the perspective of the marginalized and maimed and forgotten, some of whom struggle to escape an ugly karma and live lives that are happy and relatively tranquil. Some of them make it, some of them don't, and some of them are left with questions that are never really answered. In this book, and in many others he has written, the protagonists are two friends, New Iberia, Louisiana cop Dave Robicheaux and his best friend and compatriot Clete (Cletus) Purcel, ex-New Orleans cop, private investigator, decorated Vietnam veteran and alcoholic. I like both of these men ... and they are not easy men to like because of the ghosts that haunt them both, ghosts of their upbringing and Vietnam and alcohol. Over the past several novels, Dave has been working on getting his act together -- he has quit drinking, joined AA, and married Molly, a wonderful ex-nun who loves him and refuses to get enmeshed in his torments. Clete is like watching a runaway eighteen wheeler careening down a mountain highway with bad brakes and a lunatic at the wheel. You know there's an awful crash waiting somewhere, but you don't know just where. The guy has an amazing ability to right himself, but you know he's ultimately going off a cliff if he doesn't stop drinking. Most of the Dave Robicheaux novels take place in Louisiana. This one takes place in Montana, where Dave and Molly have gone on a fishing vacation, taking Clete along to give him a break,. "Clete Purcel had heard of people who sleep without dreaming, but either because of the era and neighborhood in which he had grown up, or the later experiences that had come to define his life, he could not think of sleep as anything other than an uncontrolled descent into a basement where the gargoyles turned somersaults like circus midgets .. His dreams clung to his skin like cobweb and followed him into the day... But on this particular morning Clete was determined to leave his past in the past and live in the sunlight from dawn until nightfall and then sleep the sleep of the dead." But for Clete, there are no breaks, and trouble finds him on the banks of a pristine river, fishing when two men in a bright red diesel extended cab truck pull up and spoil the idyllic scene. It isn't surprising. From there events descend into the dark regions of the soul where hobgoblins dwell and hurting people struggle to live fulfilling lives and try to stay out of the way of greedy, wealthy elites who use evil as a tool to possess more. "When people talk about class war," Dave muses, "they're dead wrong. The war was never between the classes. It was between the have-nots and the have-nots. The people on the hill watched it from afar when they watched it at all." Which, I'd say, is pretty close to the truth. I found Swan Peak a hypnotic read. It's plot is many-layered, its mood dark and heavy, with glimmers of hope for some of the hopeless characters that one least expects will make it out of the maelstrom that, Burke muses, in which we all live, "an era that is so intense and fierce in its inception and denouement that it can only be seen correctly inside the mind of a deity." Yet, in spite of all this, the story ends on a not of hope. Looking at fingerling salmon in a cold stream, Dave knows that when spring comes, the adult salmon will work their way into the main stream and on down to the sea. "All of these things will happen of their own accord, without my doing anything about them, and for some strange reason, I take great comfort in that fact." A fine novel, if not, like life, always a pleasant one.show more
by George Polley
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