I know of an acquiring editor who ran a board for new authors who not only counted Burke a favorite, but recommended him as an example of a beautiful prose style. From the almost 60 pages I got through, I can understand that. I didn't abandon this novel because I thought the writing anything less than top notch. The dialogue seems authentic and distinctive, there are descriptions of Louisiana that are evocative and lyrical coming through the first person narrative. This isn't rated two and a half stars because I think it's mediocre--it's simply I couldn't stomach it. Too dark, too gritty, too violent. I've got through some dark books--but this one didn't have glints of humor nor did the narrator/protagonist, Dave Robicheaux, provide any moral center. Around page 50 or so, Dave is being tortured--water boarded essentially--by what he recognizes as "spook" types. Problem was, by then, I couldn't see any moral distinction between their abuse of power and what he and his partner had done as cops in roughing up and threatening a potential witness and a bodyguard. I just felt assaulted by the book--the obscenities and racial epithets, the gritty, corrupt world, the violence. From what I read of it this might possibly be a good, even powerful book--but if, like me, your tolerance for the low-down dark side isn't high, you might want to skip this one.