Screwed Up Universe

16130228Light Of The World by James Lee Burke
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. As far as I know, no one does this better than James Lee Burke. The good guys are bad, and the bad guys are really bad. It’s like reading about pure unadulterated evil crafted around poetic prose, and it’s pretty wonderful, even if he does create one fucked up universe.

LIGHT OF THE WORLD feels like it’s covered in pure darkness. It’s filled with sexual assault and rape and Russian roulette and dead bodies and exploding planes and serial killers resurrected from the dead and a rodeo cowboy with a dark, checkered past. It felt as gruesome as any Stephen King novel, only my first thought was this could really happen, and then my second thought was I don’t ever want to go to Montana. In fact, maybe we should remove the state from future maps of the US. And as far as actual vacations go, I wouldn’t wish this vacation on my worst enemy.

And you want to hear something even more screwed up than all of that? This novel was therapeutic, almost cathartic even, and it was exactly the right story for me to read at this particular juncture, after coming off an unhealthy stream of mediocre affairs. I had my love of reading jarred back into me like a masked man with a blackjack, brass knuckles, nunchaku, and a nine millimeter strapped to his waist. And I surrendered with a smile on my face.

Gretchen Horowitz sounds like the ideal male fantasy, all chestnut hair and tits and legs, until it was revealed that she could pull the ass out of a rhinoceros and she’d killed men without blinking an eyelash. Taking two in the face and one in the jugular while I slept suddenly sounded a whole lot less appealing.

Dave Robicheaux, though, makes these stories sing baritone from the first row of the choir. He has as many demons as he has friends, but that makes him all the more appealing. As for Clete Purcel, he likes to drink and he likes his women and he has no problem mixing the two, and married women aren’t any less appealing than the ones that aren’t. But that doesn’t make him a bad man, just a highly tormented one, in a novel chock full of demented individuals, many of which, sheriffs and detectives included, ought to be locked in the slammer with the guard swallowing the key like he was a street performer in the middle of Las Vegas.

The plot proved more challenging than a Montana mountain range. With twists and turns and double backs and winding roads and steep cliffs with jagged edges and serpentine monsters waiting at the top of the next pass. In other words, it was a beautiful, complicated monstrosity filled with piss and spit and spite and it roared with its jaws open wide and it slashed its claws six inches in front of my face.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

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