stalked by evil killer with a deadly grudge
thriller Light of the World James Lee Burke Orion, €20, tpbk
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At the age of 76, James Lee Burke is widely regarded as perhaps the finest living American thriller writer. Light of the World is his 19th novel featuring Louisiana police detective and recovering alcoholic Dave Robicheaux and his hard-drinking and impulsive PI friend Clete Purcell.
Dave, his wife Molly and adult daughter Alafair, a journalist and author, are on holiday on a remote ranch owned by a friend in the beautiful Bitterroot Mountains in western Montana. They are accompanied by Clete and his daughter Gretchen Horowitz, whose existence he had only learned about a year earlier.
But what should have been a blissful holiday soon becomes a terrifying nightmare when a truly evil man, Asa Surette, slips secretly into this fragile slice of naturally wild paradise. Surette is a vicious serial killer who delights in torturing young women to death.
Two years previously, Alafair had interviewed Surette in prison and published a series of articles calling for his execution, and he now carries a deadly grudge.
As far as the police are concerned, Surette is dead, burned alive when the prison truck he was being transported in collided with an oil tanker. But Dave believes Alafair is being stalked by one of the most depraved killers he has ever encountered, and even when young women in the area go missing, the police are not interested.
A powerful billionaire, bent on despoiling Montana's natural beauty for profit, has the police in his pocket. Once again it's up to Dave and Clete to bring their particular brand of rough justice to evil men set to destroy them and the community at large.
Burke writes lyrically about the crystalline beauty of mountainous Montana, and he is equally fluent about the conflict between good and evil.
Like him, his two main characters are reaching the age when reflecting on how one has lived one's life becomes import-ant. You get the impression at the violent conclusion of Light of the World that while neither man is prepared go quietly into the night, the baton is about to be passed on to a new and female generation.