James Lee Burke was born in Houston, Texas, in 1936 and grew up on the Texas-Louisiana gulf coast. He attended Southwestern Louisiana Institute and later received a B. A. Degree in English and an M. A. from the University of Missouri in 1958 and 1960 respectively. Over the years he worked as a landman for Sinclair Oil Company, pipeliner, land surveyor, newspaper reporter, college English professor, social worker on Skid Row in Los Angeles, clerk for the Louisiana Employment Service, and instructor in the U. S. Job Corps.
He and his wife Pearl met in graduate school and have been married 48 years, they have four children: Jim Jr., an assistant U.S. Attorney; Andree, a school psychologist; Pamala, a T. V. ad producer; and Alafair, a law professor and novelist who has 4 novels out with Henry Holt publishing.
Burke's work has been awarded an Edgar twice for Best Crime Novel of the Year. He has also been a recipient of a Breadloaf and Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEA grant. Two of his novels, Heaven's Prisoners and Two For Texas, have been made into motion pictures. His short stories have been published in The Atlantic Monthly, New Stories from the South, Best American Short Stories, Antioch Review, Southern Review, and The Kenyon Review. His novel The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected 111 times over a period of nine years, and upon publication by Louisiana State University press was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Today he and his wife live in Missoula, Montana, and New Iberia, Louisiana.
Louisiana sleuth Dave Robicheaux (who made it big in the Edgar Award-winning Black Cherry Blues , LJ 8/89) confronts his nastiest villain yet: neo-Nazi Will Buchalter.
After his dreamy sojourn into Civil War history in In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead , former New Orleans cop Dave Robicheaux comes up against the residue of Nazism in his action-packed, somewhat rambling seventh adventure. When Batist, who helps Dave run his bait shop, is arrested for the latest in a series of murders of New Orleans drug dealers, Dave must raise money for his bail. For a $10,000 finder's fee, he agrees to search for a Nazi submarine sunk in 1942 off the coast of New Iberia, where he is now deputy sheriff. While the sub search draws the attention of a neo-Nazi sadist who threatens Dave's wife, Bootsie, Dave is distracted by the antics of his former partner, Clete Purcel, who has decided to take on mob interests and, in one instance, destroys a crime boss's mansion with an earth mover. Before a dramatic resolution at sea draws the threads of the plots loosely together, Dave traces an intricate course marked by ritual killings, bouts of torture, Bootsie's anxiety (from which she seeks relief in drink) and racial and gender politics within the New Orleans police force, drawing Dave into the lives of a feisty black woman cop and her teenage son. A standout in the diverting supporting cast is doom-predicting Brother Oswald, who employs a maddeningly roundabout manner of discourse. In this physically demanding, fast moving plot, Dave is less ruminative than when last seen, though he holds on to his trademark melancholy-tinged sensitivity. $200,000 ad/promo; 20-city author tour.
"Mr. Burke's Davie Robicheaux novels have been among the best in American crime fiction of the past decade. DIXIE CITY JAM, one of the strongest books in the series, may just put him over the top."--Baltimore Sun
"[Burke is] at the top of his form in DIXIE CITY JAM. A dandy read."--Tony Hillerman
"Burke's in top form here.... He evokes the rank, steamy, decaying beauty of New Orleans and evirons better than anyone. Each chapter leaves you panting."--San Jose Mercury News