In Edgar winner Burke’s masterly 22nd novel featuring Iberia Parish, La., detective Dave Robicheaux (after 2018’s Robicheaux), Hollywood director Desmond Cormier, whom Robicheaux knew 25 years earlier as a young man on the streets of New Orleans with big plans of heading to California to make movies, returns to Louisiana to shoot his next film. When the crucified body of a woman is found floating in the bay close to Cormier’s waterfront estate, Robicheaux investigates. Meanwhile, his pal Clete Purcel witnesses a man leap from a moving train into the bayou. Could the presence of this man, escaped convict Hugo Tillinger, somehow connect with Robicheaux’s case? Several other bodies turn up, all grotesquely staged to represent cards in a tarot deck. Robicheaux is convinced that Cormier’s film crew is involved, but he soon finds himself in a shadowy world of rogue cops, mobsters, and a childlike assassin named Smiley. With his lush, visionary prose and timeless literary themes of loss and redemption, Burke is in full command in this outing for his aging but still capable hero.
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