Once an officer for the New Orleans police department, Robicheaux constantly breaches the ethical code over the course of just about every case he works on and currently pursues cases in New Iberia, Louisiana as sheriff's deputy. He is a recovering alcoholic whose demons stem from his service in the Vietnam War and his impoverished difficult childhood in rural Louisiana; his mother abandoned the family (and was later murdered) and his father died in an oil rig explosion.
He still experiences periods of savage depression and nightmares, which are only exacerbated by the murder of his wife Annie Ballard, a social worker. He married a mobster's widow Bootsie, a lupus sufferer, and adopted the El Salvadorean orphan Alafair (the namesake of Burke's own daughter), after he saves her from the wreckage of an airplane. After Bootsie's death he weds a strong minded former Maryknoll nun by the name of Molly .
His best friend is the violent, alcoholic ex-police officer and private investigator / bail-bondsman Cletus Purcel.
- The Neon Rain (1987)
- Heaven's Prisoners (1988)
- Black Cherry Blues (1989)
- A Morning for Flamingos (1990)
- A Stained White Radiance (1992)
- In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead (1993)
- Dixie City Jam (1994)
- Burning Angel (1995)
- Cadillac Jukebox (1996)
- Sunset Limited (1998)
- Purple Cane Road (2000)
- Jolie Blon's Bounce (2002)
- Last Car to Elysian Fields (2003)
- Crusader's Cross (2005)
- Pegasus Descending (2006)
- The Tin Roof Blowdown (2007)
- Swan Peak (2008)
- The Glass Rainbow (2010)
- Creole Belle (2012)
- Light of the World (2013)
Appearances in movies
- Fuller, R. Reese (June 5, 2002). "The Man Behind Dave Robicheaux". Retrieved 26 April 2015.
- Rainone, Anthony (October 2004). "Interview: James Lee Burke". January Magazine. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
- Herbert, Rosemary (2003). Who's Who in Crime and Mystery Writing. Oxford University Press. p. 168.
- Tucker, Ken (January 17, 2015). "Heaven's Prisoners". Entertainment Weekly.
- Kelly, Christopher (June 2009). "Mist Opportunity". Texas Monthly.
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