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Pegasus Descending: A Dave Robicheaux Novel    by James Lee Burke order for
Pegasus Descending
by James Lee Burke
Order:  USA  Can
Pocket, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Each time I read a book by James Lee Burke, I remember why he is one of my favorite novelists. His writing is the stuff of genius. At times, he can be a romantic, describing his protagonist's feelings about a morning: 'her skin gave off warm radiance just like the flowers in a garden. In the blueness of the dawn I would hear the steady rhythm of her breath in my ear while Miss Ellen Deschamps called her cats from her back porch, and I would start the day with the absolute knowledge that no evil could hold sway in our lives.'

He often becomes a philosopher as in Dave Robicheaux's musing, 'I have never given much credence to the notion that the dead are held captive by the weight of tombstones placed on their chests. I believe they slip loose from their fastenings of rotted satin and mold board and tree roots, and the clay itself and visit us in nocturnal moments that we are allowed to dismiss as dreams. They're in our midst, still hanging on for reasons of their own. Sometimes I think their visitation has less to do with their own motives than ours. I think sometimes it is we who need the dead rather than the other way around.'

This gentle, romantic writer can also depict violence so realistically that the reader flinches from the blood splatter. James Lee Burke is a writer of depth, insight, compassion, and with a deep understanding, both of himself and of the common man.

A young girl, intent on a college education, shoots herself in the forehead. Her death is declared a suicide. Why? is what Dave Robicheaux asks in his capacity of a police officer. A hit and run victim poses questions also. Can these two incidents be related in any way? Pegasus Descending takes off at a dead run and barely stops for breath. Action, backdrop, and characters all exceed the expectations we have when picking up a James Lee Burke novel. As it builds to a crescendo, almost unbearable tension mounts. The denouement will blow you away. Don't miss this one.

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