OK, let's get the obvious out of the way: Burke still writes like a slumming angel. It's not the writing I have a complaint about. It's the plotting. It seems to me that most of Burke's books just meander around , full of sound and fury, for a couple of hundred pages, and then when it's time for the resolution, one is rushed on stage. I could easily be wrong about this, but that's my perception of the books lately. In Crusader's Cross, there are a couple of things about the plotting that really bother me, too, but I won't go into those since some of you might not have read the book yet.
I'm not sure if anybody else feels this way, but for me the Robicheaux novels, of which this is the latest, seem to be getting a little repetitive. There's the decadent southern family with a crazy daughter, along with the certain knowledge that Dave's going to fall off the wagon yet again and get fired from his job on the cops (or come close) while causing everybody he knows a heck of a lot of grief and trouble as he dispenses vigilante justice, badge or no badge. And Clete's going to help him. Meanwhile Burke is going to switch from first to third person point of view whenever he feels like it.
The prologue of Crusader's Cross is set in 1958 when Dave is 20 years old, which means that he's now 67. But he's as full of rage as ever, and he can still go out and run a few miles, come home and lift weights, and then do a few hundred pushups with his feet elevated and pressed against a wall. We should all be in that kind of shape when we hit 67. And sex? Dave gets plenty of that, too, without any pharmaceutical aids.
In spite of my litany of complaints, I don't have any plans to stop reading the books. The voice still holds me, and until it stops, I'll lay my money down.
Addendum: Just to let you know my Burke credentials, for many years he was a "whatever happened to" author for me. I bought (and still have) copies of and Half of Paradise and Lay Down my Sword and Shield when they first came out in paperback in the late '60s or early '70s. I got Burke to sign them a few years ago when he was on a book tour. I thought those two books were wonderful, but after they came out, the author disappeared as far as I knew. I wondered for a long time how a writer with so much talent could just drop out of sight. Then one day after I'd been in Alvin a couple of years, Jim Creel, a faculty member the college came by my office with a paperback copy of a mystery novel he'd just read. He said it was really good and wanted to know if I'd like to read it. When I saw the author's name on the cover, I got a very pleasant jolt and took the book off his hands immediately. I haven't missed one since.