The Neon Rain

Re-read The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke last night. It’s a gritty thriller about a Cajun police detective who takes on drug lords and arms smugglers and nearly loses himself while battling his own demons. I lived in New Orleans for several years, got to know a bunch of Cajuns from the bayou (some really do speak only French and don’t know a lick of English) and he got the N’awlins atmosphere just right, the way it was in the mid ’80s when I was there. Here’s one of my favorite lines:

“It started to rain in large, flat drops when we turned onto the Expressway, then it suddenly poured down on Clete’s car in a roar of tackhammers.”

Ain’t that the truth. It rained every day around 4 PM, and it was like the sky just opened up and vomited water. It came down so hard it really did sound like hammers. Felt like it too, if you were caught in it. But it never lasted more than twenty minutes. Then the clouds would suddenly disappear, the sun would come out, and in the near-tropical heat you could see the steam rising from the rain-soaked concrete like smoke from a cigarette.

To be honest, I can’t say I’m a Burke fan, but IMHO, The Neon Rain is his best.

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