Hyperion Books, 1978 (323 pages) $5.99
James Lee Burke is best known for his Dave Robichaeux mystery novels, but recently publishing companies have released some of Burke's earlier works, THE LOST GET-BACK BOOGIE is one such re-release. Fans of Burke who pick up THE LOST GET BACK BOOGIE expecting a mystery novel in the same vein as the Dave Robicheaux tales will be disappointed. THE LOST GET BACK BOOGIE is not set in Louisiana and it is not a mystery per se.
Iry Paret is a Louisiana musician who was just released from the penitentiary for murdering a man in a barroom brawl. Paret is released on parole in time to see his father die. Paret has no ties left in Louisiana. He and his sibling are far from a loving family, and Paret wants a change of pace, to start fresh.
Paret heads to Montana to stay with a fellow ex-con, Sonny Riordan. Sonny is the wayward son of Frank Riordan, a self-made man, who is angering the local community with his efforts to shut down the local pulp mill which employs most of the citizens. Paret is struggling to grow up and to change his ways, so he will not end up in prison again. Sonny Riordan is plagued with devils and a self-destructive streak that at times is alluring to Paret and at other times, threatens to consume Paret as well. Complications arise when Paret becomes involved with Sonny's ex-wife and when local townsfolk begin venting their hatred in more than just words toward the Riordans, and to Paret by association.
THE LOST GET-BACK BOOGIE is not a mystery novel, nor is it even a crime novel. Though the protagonist is an ex-con who at various times faces going back to jail, the real theme of this novel is of development. A man who comes to realize that his destructive past and his youthful dreams both have to change as he wizens with age.
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