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A Private Cathedral

Narrated by: Will Patton
Length: 11 hrs and 28 mins
4.1 out of 5 stars (37 ratings)

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Summary

After becoming embroiled in one of Louisiana's oldest and bloodiest gangland feuds, Detective Dave Robicheaux must battle the most terrifying adversary he has ever encountered....

The merciless Shondell and Balangie families are long-time enemies in the New Iberia criminal underworld. Yet their youngest heirs, Johnny and Isolde - star-crossed teenage lovers - have run away together. As he tried to uncover the reasons why, Robicheaux gets too close to both Isolde's mother and her father's mistress.

In retribution, Balangie - as jealous as he is cruel - hires an assassin to hunt Robicheaux and his long-time partner, Clete Purcel. This hitman is unlike any the two have ever faced - able to materialise without warning and to introduce horrifying hallucinations in his victims. In order to defeat him and rescue the young lovers, Robicheaux will have to overcome the demons that have tormented him his whole life....

©2020 James Lee Burke (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

Critic reviews

“America’s best novelist.” (The Denver Post

What listeners say about A Private Cathedral

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Hallucinogenic Ghosts in the Mist

I've read and loved all of Burke's Dave Robicheaux novels and generally speaking I like a linear chronology so this book is like Lee Child and his "Reacher' series or Philip Kerr's 'Bernie Gunter' series which don't follow a linear time chronology. That's not a big deal but it's a stretch to suspend disbelief enough to buy the galleons in the mist and time travelling evil killers on the loose unless you either believe all that Louisiana mysticism or think like me that Dave and Clete are suffering the effects of alcohol, LSD or other mind altering substances. There is an obsession with death, religion, superstition, music, sex and violence which are all ingredients of David Simon's excellent 'Treme' but this is a different gumbo altogether. I loved the book for its narration, the gorgeous purple prose and the relationship between Dave and Clete but I was less convinced by the plot. It came across as Burke riffing on old and familiar themes in a near steam of conscious narrative. If you love Burke's work you'll go along with this and find it enjoyable enough but new readers ought not to start here.

1 person found this helpful

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James Lee Burke Unsuccessfully Going Mystical

We all loved Burke's Dave Robicheaux novels for their picturesque descriptions of life in Louisiana and for his mature approach to detective mysteries. In this book, Burke has gone all-out weird and, unless you are prone to old style Catholic mysticism and superstition, there is hardly a credible passage in the book. Who cares who the perp is when you have scaly monsters and sweet angels to choose from? To be honest, this book has caused me to reconsider all of Burke's work. I find myself exhausted with his obsessions with alcoholism, Catholicism and human frailty. His descriptions of alcoholism, for example, are more akin to tripping on acid than the reality of needing alcohol to function. Delerium tremens is a risk alcoholics take when they abstain - not while they are still drinking. And I'm thoroughly over the ghosts in the mist, the dry lightning and green skies. Disastrous.

1 person found this helpful

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Very disappointing

I have listened to all of Robicheaux books available on Audible and read some that aren’t . This is the first one I gave up on before the end. All of the others have been excellent but, for me, the recurrent introduction of supernatural and ‘time travel’ elements to the plots detracts from the experience. In this book one of the characters is a straightforward ghoul from the 17th century and there are appearances of medieval galleons here and there. These things meandering in an out of the plot made the whole thing completely implausible. As usual the narration by Will Patton was excellent and the Clete Purcell / Robicheaux exchanges were up to the usual high standard.

1 person found this helpful

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JLB never disappoints

Great story, as Clete and Dave confront existential questions about evil. Very topical and relevant to the current administration in USA. The language is as rich and lyrical as always and the narration is superb.

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My favourite JLB so far!

Love JLB, especially the Robicheaux stories with big Clete Purcell. This one has a great storyline, it’s brutal and funny, holding the listeners attention every second. Will Patton’s narration is bang on, perfect for the characters portrayed. Hoping for more in this amazing series!

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Not one of the better Robicheaux novels

I’m a big fan of the series but didn’t really enjoy this mixture of the supernatural, time travel and Clete and Dave. It’s a story that takes place after Bootsie but before Molly. Not the best story but still well written.

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A ghoul too far

Will Paton's excellent, characterful narration is the saving grace of this book. I am a JLB junkie, having read all of the Robicheaux saga, but this is below par. The deus ex machina role of a time-tripping , medieval bad man compromises the gritty reality you expect: too much fantasy, not enough exploration of motives. And just how old are Dave and Clete now? Dave's fatal attraction to and for women is overplayed - as is Clete's propensity for violence. Finally, the underlying theme of "Antifa" revisionist history almost presages the advent of BLM.

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Always breathtakingly brilliant.

Another exceptional story, written in Burke’s lyrical and individual style. The narrator could not be more suited to reading drama of this calibre.

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Very like the others.

I’ve read and listened to several of these novels. This one was seemed a bit ‘tired’ and repeated at lot of the same ideas and action as the others.