If you do have the ability to follow multiple story threads, this book, after a short introduction from the past, finds Detective Dave Robicheaux trying to get his ex-partner Clete (Cletus) Parcel out of some trouble he got himself in with some local New Orleans (N.O.) mobsters. This is all set against the background of the search for a sunken Nazi sub. The sub was sunk off the Louisiana coast at the mouth of the Mississippi. Apparently, the Nazi's, back in the World War II days, heavily patrolled these waters as a lot of shipping left these shores bound for Europe. But, this ship may or may not have something in it to hide. And it's connection to Detective Robicheaux is as follows: when he was a teenager, diving off a shrimping boat, working summers on the coast, he had seen the wreck of the sunken sub. Years later, he saw it again at a different location, possibly a place where the sub would have drifted with time and tides. Dave Robicheaux now owns a bait and tackle shop along with a boat rental business. He was in one of his boats when he saw the sub for the second time.
There is a local New Orleans hotel entrepreneur who knows Dave's sub story and wants Dave to help him find the sub and raise it. He goes by the name of Hippo Brimstine. Hippo is Jewish. So, is this the reason he wants to raise a Nazi sub? Or is there a hidden reason? One of the mobsters in town also wants to give Dave money to get the location of the sub. But what is his interest? Was his family connected with Nazi's back in the 30s and 40s. Is it because he is Irish-Catholic? Is it some other reason?
Racial politics and race relations play a huge role in this story, as Dave Robicheaux is a "by the numbers" detective who does not break any rules, or does he? Yet, he does bend them to the extent of needing to achieve his goals. Especially when he and his family are threatened by Neo-Nazis and by other N.O. mobsters. Do they find the sub? Are the threats against Dave, his family and his friends countered? Answers are provided in time..... But something more important to consider.
There is a flavor and a smell to this Novel, and it's all Southern and it's all Louisiana and New Orleans. The prose grabs you and drags you in and does not let you go. When you start reading this book, you feel and breath and taste and smell everything. When Dave Robicheaux buys Po 'boy sandwiches, you smell them in the bag he's holding. When Dave's neighbor is burning his sugarcane fields, you smell it too. You feel the Palm fronds waving in the breeze, you sense the breeze off the Gulf, you experience every single sensation. THIS is a book to immerse yourself in. And this is writing to revel in.
James Lee Burke is a gem of writer and I am sad it took me so long to discover him. I have no problem recommending this book, or this writer, based on just this one book. Easily, a four star book.