In this winner of the 1990 Mass Market Paperback edition.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful: Great writing, gripping story, June 27, 2003 Reviewer: The Gooch from Corona, CA United States Over and above anything else, the first thing that struck me about James Lee Burke's "Black Cherry Blues" was the quality of the writing. Burke has an incredibly ability to beautifully describe his settings, making small town Louisiana and rural Montana vividly real to the reader. His descriptions are so good that I would often have to suppress the urge to have a late night snack after having my appetite whet when reading about something so basic as what Dave and his daughter made for dinner. Take away the whole suspense/mystery/thriller aspects of this novel, and it would almost still be worth reading just for Burke's descriptive abilities. The plot itself is the classic "innocent man falsely accused" story. Dave Robicheaux, who is trying to live a quiet, simple life running a boat dock/bait shop and raising his daughter in New Iberia, LA, begrudgingly helps out an old college friend who is involved with some unscrupulous individuals. This leads to a series of events involving ominous threats towards Dave's daughter, Alafair, and culminates in Robicheaux being accused of a murder he didn't commit. The majority of the book takes place after Robicheaux heads to Montana to attempt to clear his name before his trial begins. Burke seems to take great care in formulating his plot to make sure all his bases are covered. One small thing he did in this book that I really appreciated was to actually attempt to logically explain some of those bizarre coincidences that happen so often in suspense novels that immediately take me out of the novel because they come off as so unrealistic. There is a scene in "Black Cherry Blues" that is reminiscent of many thrillers, where a character is a second of two from having a knife stabbed into his chest, but is saved when somebody "happens" to walk in just at the right time. Many authors just take if for granted the readers will actually buy this, when my usual reaction is "yeah, right". Burke, on the other hand, actually takes this thriller cliche and gives a logical, believable explanation as to why this person knew to be where he was at exactly the right moment. This kind of care is taken throughout the book. If I were to nitpick I would say that I was sometimes confused by Robicheaux's behavior, in that at times he seemed like someone who genuinely wanted to lead a peaceful life, and then would knowingly behave in a way that would get him into trouble with the wrong people. To be fair, if I had read the previous two Dave Robicheaux novels in the series (and after the quality of "Black Cherry Blues" I fully intend to) perhaps I would have had a better understanding of his character and personality. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition