Today I finished my one hundredth book of the year. It is kind of crazy to think I have somehow read that many books. This last one was a quick and easy read. Just shy of 300 pages and the type of mystery story that draws you in and drives you forward. What I was a little surprised by was how political the book was.
The book was the 1987 novel The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke. I don’t know why the politics in it surprised me as I have read plenty of other books from other time periods that have been political but I think it might be a combination of not having read a lot of mystery novels from the 1980’s and the amount of complaining some people do about novels suddenly getting political.
I do think it is mostly the 1980’s thing though. This was my first James Lee Burke novel and I don’t think it will be my last. It was weird how his politics in 1987 aligned with the American left from our current times. There was even parts of the novel that some would call CRT if they read it today.
The book starts with a dead African-American hooker pulled from the swamp and the local sheriff refusing to order an autopsy. This causes the New Orleans police lieutenant that found the body to dig deeper and as he does he discovers a conspiracy that can trace its origins to the Contras and the jungles of South America. The entire novel takes place in Louisiana but the players include mob bosses, hillbillies, South American drug smugglers, and right wing extremists.
I don’t know if I was expecting all that in this novel or not. It was definitely and interesting read and I do think this is going to be a series I am going to want to see through until the end. It is joining quite a few others though, but I have miles to go before I sleep.