Pegasus Descending is the fifteenth installment of James Lee Burke’s (Crusaders Cross, Black Cherry Blues, Last Car To Elysian Fields) long-running Dave Robicheaux series. The story opens up twenty-five years in the past, where the alcohol-soaked Robicheaux witnesses the execution of his friend and fellow Vietnam veteran Dallas Klein by a bunch of ruthless thugs who blow his head off with a shotgun.
Flash-forward to modern day. A young woman, Trish Klein, has shown up in New Iberia passing around phony hundred dollar bills and taunting Whitey Bruxal, the aging mobster who might be responsible for her father’s death. Added to Robicheaux’s plate is what seems like the suicide of a smart young co-ed named Yvonne Darbone. It isn’t long before Robicheaux thinks the cases are linked and he gets help from his long time sidekick Clete Purcell.
If you are a longtime Burke fan, you will no doubt gobble this up and not ask any questions. It’s the nature of the beast; all fans see their heroes through rose-colored glasses. But first time readers who haven’t built the attachment to these characters over the series might not feel as passionate about Pegasus Descending. Burke’s elegiac, exquisitely lyrical prose is there in spades, as is the atmosphere and Robicheaux’s dark, haunting past. And you could even give tons of kudos to Burke for keeping such a long series energized, where some authors might have just phoned it in by this time. But the characterizations (some start off well before falling into cliché) and abundance of characters makes the overall story a bit confusing. So the story and plotlines didn’t tickle my fancy.
But the audio performance of Pegasus Descending absolutely shines. Much like Len Cariou brings Michael Connelly’s work alive, so does Will Patton for James Lee Burke’s material. Patton is superb in his delivery, accents, and tone. Overall, Pegasus Descending is a real treat for the ears for longtime Burke fans.