It was supposed to be a glorious vacation for detective Dave Robicheaux, Alafair, Molly, and their friend Clete Purcell in the mountains of Montana. They are the guests of Albert Hollister. Mr.Holllister is a retired English professor of considerable reputation thanks also to his status as a novelist. His expansive property is at the foot of the Bitterroot Mountains in western Montana and should be the perfect spot for Dave and the others to recover from recent traumatic events.


Unfortunately, while it may be paradise, evil and trouble are in the woods. The arrow that barely nicked Alafair’s ear could have killed her. The only person in the immediate area she can find and confront is a Mr. Wyatt Dixon of Fort Davis, Texas. Mr. Dixon clearly has issues, but whether he fired the arrow is not clear so she enlists her father’s help. When that does not work, they get local law enforcement involved in the matter. That just makes things go from bad to worse.


Whether or not Mr. Dixon fired the arrow, he is now on their radar as they are on his. Whether he is the one lurking in the nearby cave writing strange religious sayings on the walls they don’t know. Whether he is responsible for other strange events, they don’t know. Why they seemingly are targets they don’t know. But, gradually over the course of many weeks, pieces began to fall into place proving again that true evil never really goes away.


As in earlier reads of this series, author James Lee Burke once again ponders the idea of evil in the world. Going far beyond the nature vs. nurture arguments, the evil that Mr. Burke refers to is an evil from beyond humanity. It may take human form from time to time in each generation but even when those humans are detected for what they are and ultimately removed from the board, the evil that spawned them is still out there waiting to come forth again.


Much of this book is spent in the minds of various characters as they perceive people and events around them. Some of these characters have experienced horrific things in their childhood and subsequently in their lives and have learned to deal with that in interesting ways. One such character is Gretchen, the daughter of Clete, who experienced what can only be termed as horrific childhood abuse by multiple male figures in her life and ultimately became a contract killer for the mob. She makes a return appearance in this book and is again transforming herself–this time into a talented film student and director.


Then there are other characters who have basically become the people who did things to them. While they may have a redeeming quality or two buried deep inside, they basically are primarily evil in some way.


Then there are those who may not be human who walk among us, live in our prisons, and receive intense and almost worshipping media attention for their crimes.  What they are and their power over this mortal coil is just a small part of this very complicated book. The result is a 500 page plus read that ponders many topics in the state of the world today while dealing with a complex mystery that stretches from Montana across several states.


One gets a sense that this is the final book of the series. If so, author James Lee Burke once again delivers a compelling and very complicated read. If you prefer your characters to be simple, the action fast and furious, and everything obvious, then Mr.Burke’s books are not for you. If you prefer mysteries that are complicated with characters that are deeply complicated human beings, you are open to philosophy in its many forms, and are comfortable reading on several layers at the same time; Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel is another feast for the mind and soul.



Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel

James Lee Burke

Simon & Schuster

July 2013

ISBN# 978-1-4767-1076-1

560 Pages

Hardback (also available in audio and e-book)




Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.



Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

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