Cover image for Dixie City jam
Dixie City jam
Burke, James Lee, 1936-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion, [1994]

Physical Description:
367 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

On Order



The latest Dave Robicheaux thriller offers a look at hate crimes as Dave confronts a neo-Nazi, becomes involved in a Mafia war, and deals with a Nazi submarine buried off the Louisiana coast.

Author Notes

James Lee Burke, winner of two Edgar awards, is the author of nineteen previous novels, many of them "New York Times" bestsellers, including "Cimmaron Rose", Cadillac Jukebox", & "Sunset Limited". He & his wife divide their time between Missoula, Montana, & New Iberia, Louisiana.

(Publisher Provided) James Lee Burke was born in Houston, Texas on December 5, 1936. He received a B. A. in English and an M. A. from the University of Missouri in 1958 and 1960, respectively. Before becoming a full-time author, he worked as a land surveyor, newspaper reporter, college English professor, social worker, and instructor in the U. S. Job Corps.

His novel The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected 111 times over a period of nine years, and upon publication was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He writes the Dave Robicheaux series and the Billy Bob Holland series. He has won numerous awards including the CWA/Macallan Gold Dagger for fiction for Sunset Limited and the Edgar Award in 1989 for Black Cherry Blues and in 1997 for Cimarron Rose. His short stories have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, New Stories from the South, Best American Short Stories, Antioch Review, Southern Review, and The Kenyon Review. Two of his novels, Heaven's Prisoners and Two for Texas, have been made into motion pictures starring Alec Baldwin and Tommy Lee Jones, respectively. He made The New York Times High Profiles List with Wayfaring Stranger.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

There comes a time in the life of any successful mystery series when its author must decide whether change is necessary. You really can't win at this game. Either you stick with what brung you and are criticized for repeating yourself, or you attempt something new and alienate those who have grown comfortable with the series' familiar rhythms. James Lee Burke knows there is really only one way to solve this conundrum: keep writing good books. His Dave Robicheaux series is now in its seventh installment and shows no signs of fatigue, though Burke continues to stick close to his basic formula: New Iberia, Louisiana, cop Robicheaux becomes entangled with a sociopath who poses a threat to Robicheaux's family; Dave, usually with the help of former partner Cletus Purcell, reacts violently, eventually vanquishing the foe but not without experiencing loss, sometimes to those around him, sometimes to his sense of self. This time the foe is a neo-Nazi sadist who thinks Dave is the key to finding a German U-Boat that has been bouncing around the Gulf of Mexico since World War II. Threats to Dave's wife and child draw Robicheaux into a violent confrontation. A Robicheaux novel can always be counted on for atmosphere (no one uses New Orleans and evirons better), for bone-hard realism (especially on the subject of violence, its allure and its horror), and for melancholy reflection on the inevitability of the old giving way to the new. Burke keeps it all fresh by never losing sight of the soft edges around his hard characters and by somehow being able to crank out a little extra lyricism at just the right moment. New Orleans stays the same without going flat. Why shouldn't Burke? (Reviewed July 1994)0786860197Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

After his dreamy sojourn into Civil War history in In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead , former New Orleans cop Dave Robicheaux comes up against the residue of Nazism in his action-packed, somewhat rambling seventh adventure. When Batist, who helps Dave run his bait shop, is arrested for the latest in a series of murders of New Orleans drug dealers, Dave must raise money for his bail. For a $10,000 finder's fee, he agrees to search for a Nazi submarine sunk in 1942 off the coast of New Iberia, where he is now deputy sheriff. While the sub search draws the attention of a neo-Nazi sadist who threatens Dave's wife, Bootsie, Dave is distracted by the antics of his former partner, Clete Purcel, who has decided to take on mob interests and, in one instance, destroys a crime boss's mansion with an earth mover. Before a dramatic resolution at sea draws the threads of the plots loosely together, Dave traces an intricate course marked by ritual killings, bouts of torture, Bootsie's anxiety (from which she seeks relief in drink) and racial and gender politics within the New Orleans police force, drawing Dave into the lives of a feisty black woman cop and her teenage son. A standout in the diverting supporting cast is doom-predicting Brother Oswald, who employs a maddeningly roundabout manner of discourse. In this physically demanding, fast moving plot, Dave is less ruminative than when last seen, though he holds on to his trademark melancholy-tinged sensitivity. $200,000 ad/promo; 20-city author tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Louisiana sleuth Dave Robicheaux (who made it big in the Edgar Award-winning Black Cherry Blues , LJ 8/89) confronts his nastiest villain yet: neo-Nazi Will Buchalter. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Dixie City Jam 1 Not many people believe this, but in the early months of 1942 Nazi submarines used to lie in wait at the mouth of the Mississippi for the tankers that sailed without naval escort from the oil refineries at Baton Rouge into the Gulf of Mexico. It was a shooting gallery. Because of wartime censorship the newspapers and radio carried no accounts of the American ships sunk off the Louisiana coast, but just after sunset people could see the oil fires burning on the southern horizon, like a quickening orange smudge low in the winter sky. As a little boy in New Iberia, I heard shrimpers talk about the burned, oil-coated bodies of four merchant sailors who had been found floating like lumps of coal in an island of kelp, their sightless eyes and poached faces strung with jellyfish. I had nightmares for many years about Nazis, who I imagined as pinch-faced, slit-eyed creatures who lived beneath the waves, not far from my home, and who would eventually impose a diabolical design upon the earth. While scuba diving in college, on a calm, windless day, I accidentally found one of those submarines in sixty feet of water, resting at an angle on its keel, the deck rails and forward gun gray and fuzzy with seaweed, a chain of tiny bubbles rising from the stern. My heart was tripping against my rib cage, the blood vessels tightening in my head, but I refused to be undone by my childhood fears, and I swam down to the twisted remains of the periscope until I could see the swastika and ship's numbers painted on the side of the conning tower. I took my bowie knife from the scabbard on my side, and, like the primitive warrior who must touch the body of a slain enemy, I tapped with the butt of the knife on the conning tower's rim. Then one of the strangest occurrences of my life took place. I felt a bone-numbing coldness in the water, where there had been none before; then a sound, a vibration, like a wire cable snapping, rang through the entire length of the submarine. The conning tower began to right itself in the current, the metal plates on the hull grating on the sand, and clouds of silt and trapped oil rose from under the keel. I watched in horror as the submarine seemed to poise itself just above the gulf's floor, streamers of moss fanning back from the tower like tattered battle flags, then dip its bow downward into the darkness and slide over the edge of the continental shelf, my bowie knife toppling onto the rising stern, while sand sharks spun like minnows in the wake of its screws. I discovered later that there was no mystery about the U-boat. It had been caught recharging its batteries on the surface, shelled by a U.S. Navy destroyer, then blown out of the water by depth charges, its spine broken; since that time it had scudded and bounced with the currents up and down the floor of the gulf along the Louisiana coast. But sometimes in a dark moment I wondered about the crew that had gone down in a scream of sirens and whistles and torrents of water bursting through the ruptured plates or cascading down the tower that no one could close in time. Did they claw one another off the ladders? Were they willing to blind or maim or kill one another just to breathe air for a few more seconds? Did they regret embracing the scheme that would make the lights go out all over the world? Or were they still sailing beneath the waves, their skins pickled in salt, their uniforms nests for moray eels, their plan to turn the earth into a place of concertina wire and guard towers still on track, as certain in prospect as the phosphorescent and boiling wake of a torpedo streaking toward a distant ship silhouetted against an autumnal moon? *  *  * It had been a strange day out on the salt. The wind was hot and sere out of the south, and in the swells you could see the shiny backs of stingrays and the bluish pink air sacs of jellyfish, which meant a storm was probably kicking them in toward shore; then the barometer dropped, the wind died, and the sun looked like a white flame trapped inside the dead water. It rained for only about five minutes, large, flat drops that struck the water like lead shot, then the sky was clear and hot again and the sweat and humidity ran off your skin like snakes. Far to the south I could see the storm become stationary. Gray clouds were anchored low on the horizon, and right where they met the water there was a white line of surf and an occasional fork of lightning, like silver threads trembling inside the clouds. While Batist, the black man who worked for me, put out the lines for gafftop catfish, I slipped on my air tanks, flippers, and mask and went over the side, following the anchor rope down through the cone of translucent green light, down to a level of water that was suddenly cold and moving and gray with silt, spinning with yellow blades of seaweed, perhaps alive with sand sharks that could whisk past you with such energy and force that you felt you had been struck by an invisible hand. The anchor rope was taut and hard when I touched it. Above me I could see the silhouette of my boat's hull wobbling against the light, the bow dipping into the chop against the pull of the anchor. I blew my mask clear and went down ten more feet along the rope, into a barrel of darkness, of swirling silt that had been blackened with oil, into sounds that shouldn't have been there--metal knocking against itself, like a ball peen hammer bouncing idly off an anvil, steel plates grinding across hard-packed sand, perhaps wire cables lifting in the current and lighting on twisted spars. I gave it up and headed for the surface, rising once more into water bladed with sunlight, into the predictable world of wind and salt spray blowing against the mask, of gulls and pelicans gliding overhead, of Batist straining with both hands against a stingray he had foul-hooked through the stomach. I pulled off my tanks and rubbed my head and face dry with a towel. Batist was stripped to the waist, his back knotted with muscle, his cannonball head popping with sweat as he got the gaff into the stingray and lifted it over the gunwale. The gaff had gone all the way through one of the ray's leathery wings. Batist flopped it on its back, shook the gaff loose, then knelt on one knee and sawed the treble hook out of its stomach. He wiped the blood off his knife, looked at the bent prongs on his hook, then flung the ray overboard with both hands. "How far down was you, Dave?" he said. "Thirty or forty feet maybe." "Ain't smart. They's a lot of trash down there. They's even trees, yeah, you know that? They float all the way down the Miss'sippi. Some big as your house." "I suspect you're right." "Well?" He put a cigar in the corner of his mouth. "What?" "You found that sub down there?" "I heard some metal banging around, but I don't know what it is. It's too murky to see anything." "Maybe it's a wrecked oil rig down there; You t'ink of that? Maybe you gonna get tangled up in it, lose your life, Dave, all 'cause that Hippo fellow wavin' ten t'ousand dollars around. He want that sub, let him get his fat butt out here and look for it." "Okay, Batist." "It don't do no good to be rich in the graveyard, no." "I'm getting your drift. I really appreciate it." "You ax me my opinion." "How about we catch some fish?" "That's what I been tryin' to do. Except somebody been swimmin' around under my line." Hippo Bimstine was a mover in the state Democratic party and probably owned half of the drugstores in New Orleans. His girth was elephantine, his bejeweled, pudgy fingers and yellow-and-black checkered sports coats legendary. On any given afternoon you could see him in the Pearl on St. Charles, eating anywhere from five to eight dozen oysters on the half shell, washing them down with pitchers of beer, his thick neck powdered with talcum, a purple rose in his lapel, his jowls freshly shaved and glowing with health, his eyes squinting almost completely shut when he smiled. Years ago I had told him the story about the wreck of the German U-boat I had discovered on a calm summer day when I was in college. Last week a friend of Hippo's, a charter skipper out of Cocodrie, said his sonar had pinged a huge metal object just south of Grand Isle. Hippo remembered the story about the sunken sub, called me in New Iberia, and said he would pay a ten-thousand-dollar finder's fee if I could locate the sub and he could salvage it. "What are you going to do with a World War II U-boat, Hippo?" I said. "Are you kidding? You ever see this Geraldo guy on TV? He had millions of people watching him dig into a basement wall under a Chicago hotel where Al Capone used to live. He had everybody believing there was a car, dead bodies, gold bars, machine guns, all kinds of bullshit, buried in this underground vault. The show went on for three hours. It was so boring you had to keep slapping yourself awake. You know what he found? A big pile of wet sand and some old bottles. He also almost punched a hole in the retaining wall that keeps Lake Michigan out of the city of Chicago. "You know what I could do with a sub full of drowned Nazis? Use your imagination, Dave." But I had struck out. And it was just as well. Hippo's projects were usually as grandiose and thespian as his epicurean consumption of seafood in the Pearl, and if you became involved with him for very long, you began to realize that perhaps you had not successfully avoided the role of court jester in this life after all. Batist and I caught and gutted over a dozen gaff-top, ripped out the stingers and peeled the skin with pliers, fileted the meat in long, pink strips, and laid them out in rows on the crushed ice in the cooler. Then we ate the po'-boy sandwiches we'd made with fried oysters, mayonnaise, sauce piquant, sliced tomatoes, and onions and wrapped in waxed paper that morning; then we headed back toward the coast as the afternoon cooled and the wind began to blow out of the west, smelling of distant rain and speckled trout spawning and beached shellfish and lines of seaweed drying where the tide had receded from the sand. As the late red sun seemed to collapse and melt into a single burning ember on the horizon, you could see the neon glow of New Orleans gradually replace the daylight and spread across the' darkening sky. The clouds were black-green and low over the city, dancing with veins of lightning, roiling from Barataria all the way out to Lake Pontchartrain, and you knew that in a short while torrents of rain would blow through the streets, thrash the palm trees on the esplanades, overrun the gutters in the Quarter, fill the tunnel of oak trees on St. Charles with a gray mist through which the old iron, green-painted streetcars would make their way along the tracks like emissaries from the year 1910. New Orleans was a wonderful place to be on a late evening in August. That's what I thought, anyway, until I called Hippo Bimstine to tell him that he'd have to hire somebody else to dive the wrecks of Nazi submarines. "Where are you?" he said. "We're having supper at Mandina's, out on Canal." "You still tight with Clete Purcel?" "Sure." "You know where Calucci's Bar is by St. Charles and Carrollton?" "Yeah, it's across from your house, isn't it?" "That's right. So right now I'm looking out my window at a shitstorm in the making. I'm talking about they got a SWAT team out there. Can you believe that? A fucking SWAT team in the middle of my neighbor-hood. I think they could use a diplomat out there, before the meat loaf ends up on the wallpaper, you get my meaning?" "No." "The salt water still in your ears, Dave?" "Look, Hippo--" "It's Clete Purcel. He went apeshit in Calucci's and ran one guy all the way through the glass window. The guy's still lying in the flower bed. They say Purcel's got two or three others in there on their knees. If he don't come out, there's a supervising plainclothes in front says they're gonna smoke him. I got fucking Beirut, Lebanon, in my front yard." "Who's the supervising officer?" "A guy named Baxter. Yeah, Nate Baxter. He used to be in Vice in the First District. You remember a plainclothes by that name? . . . Hey, Dave, you there?" Excerpted from Dixie City Jam by James Lee Burke All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.