Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel can never escape their pasts or the angry demons in their heads, even to do a little fishing in Montana. Mobster Didi Gee died in a suspicious plane crash years before, but when his goons turn up in Montana, working for a pair of oil baron brothers, Dave and Clete get sucked into a whirling vortex of violence, sex, booze, and vengeance.
Swan Peak is the 16th book in James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series and exemplifies everything that is good and bad about the long-running saga. Burke is the best there is at writing literary, atmospheric mysteries peopled with complex characters and glorifying their settings (usually Louisiana, occasionally Montana). The stories are dark, sometimes a little twisted, and always exciting, with multi-faceted plots addressing important social issues.
But sometimes Burke lays it on with a trowel, and he does in Swan Peak. In addition to mobsters and crooked oil barons, there's a sadistic prison guard tracking an escaped convict, a self-medicating adulterous wife, a charlatan preacher with an eye for teenage girls, a porn producer and his call girl companion, and a vicious serial killer. That's a lot of bad guys crowded into the Bitterroot Valley. And all of them are deformed, addicted, damaged, particularly cruel, or otherwise extra creepy.
Swan Peak is a page turner, but may leave the reader needing to take a Burke break.
My review of Crusader's Cross is here
My review of The Tin Roof Blowdown is here
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Swan Peak counts for my "topographical" choice for the What's in a Name Challenge, and as another book for the Mt. TBR and Off the Shelf Challenges.