A Short Review of The Glass Rainbow: by James Lee Burke

The Glass Rainbow: A Short Review of James Lee Burke’s Novel

It is extremely difficult for a writer to create a character who can be used repeatedly and successfully in a series, but James Lee Burke succeeds in his new novel The Glass Rainbow (Simon & Schuster 2010). I’ve read every novel in the Dave Robicheaux series, and with every read I’ve felt satisfied with the storyline, inspired to develop my own writing, and eager to read the next in the series. This novel, like Burke’s other 27 novels, is rich in cultural and historical allusions in the South Louisiana milieu chosen as the setting. While Burke’s characters confront  and wrestle with the evil that threatens to destroy them, they also struggle with relationships, personal failures, and with matters more philosophical and ethical–questions relating to law and legal issues, to social mores, and personal standards.

Burke is a gifted writer who has enriched our age. There are reasons he has two Edgar Awards and was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America.

As I usually do in these short reflections of my readings,  I wanted to list a few phrases from the novel that intrigued or interested me. The page numbers are from the hardback edition.

“I realized that southern Shintoism does not necessarily have to clothe itself in Confederate gray and butternut brown” (39).
“A local bluesman by the name of Lazy Lester once said, “Don’t ever write your name on the jailhouse wall” (55).
“Jerry Springer does referrals for me” (92).
To me, the rain in Louisiana has always worked as a kind of baptism” (109).
“I have had visions of them that I do not try to explain to others.  Sometimes I thought I heard cries and shouts and the sounds of musket fire in the mist, because the Union soldiers who marched through Acadiana were turned loose upon the civilian populace as a lesson in terror.  The rape of Negro women became commonplace.  Northerners have never understood the nature of the crimes that were committed in their names  . . .” (139).

There were so many other good quotations, but perhaps these will pique your interest in reading The Glass Rainbow.