Monday, May 19, 2008

Swan Peak-James Lee Burke

Swan Peak
James Lee Burke
Simon & Schuster, Jul 2008, $25.95
ISBN 9781416548522

New Orleans PI Clete Purcel is fishing on what he thought was a Montana state park. Two men arrive stating he is on private property, the Wellstone Ranch, owned by Texas gazillionaire oilman Ridley Wellstone. He recognizes one of them as Lyle Hobbs, former driver for the late mob boss Sally Dee, who died in a plane crash years ago. Before leaving, the Wellstone security drive over Clete’s fishing gear and warn him the state pond is five miles away.

Clete, his former police partner New Iberia, Louisiana sheriff's deputy Dave Robicheaux and the latter’s wife Molly are in Big Sky Country at the invitation of novelist Albert Hollister. Dave and Clete hope Montana would help them come to grips with Katrina. However, soon after the fishing incident, someone murders a University of Montana coed and her boyfriend near the cabins Albert gave to his southern visitors to use. That is followed by a violent chase out of the Fugitive TV show/movie when a Texas prison guard chases an escaped convict. Dave and Clete know they should mind their business, but neither ever could.

Changing location from Katrina wracked Louisiana to pristine Montana does not lessen the violence as nasty predators reside in both states. Clete and Dave seek R&R; in this case respite and redemption as each wonders if they could have done more during the Hurricane and its immediate aftermath. However, catching mean SOBs and rescuing innocents do not relieve the soul; friendship and love do. James Lee Burke provides a strong tale in one of the best continuing series on the market.

Harriet Klausner