Book twenty: The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke

Last month Books etc had a three-for-two offer on classic American crime writing. The Neon Rain was the third of the three and, it turns out, the weakest. The book is the first in a series starring New Orleans detective Dave Robicheaux. When a woman is found dead in the Bayou swamp, Robicheaux becomes embroiled in a case involving South American gangsters and a conspiracy that may involve the American government.

Burke is highly regarded among thriller writers. Elmore Leonard calls him "the best crime writer alive today" but I found this fairly ordinary.

Burke is undoubtedly a talented writer. His love of New Orleans and the surrounding area shines through and he relishes the descriptions of the people, the places and the plants and wildlife. The plot is decent enough too but it never really manages to be compelling.

The investigation feels a little too simple. Robicheaux is pushed to the brink - in ways I can't explain without spoiling the story - but it feels a little too easy for him to come back.

It's not a bad book by any means but ultimately it's a forgettable one.