Detective Robicheaux finds a body floating in the bayou while he's on vacation. While out of his jurisdiction, he feels some responsibility to make sure that things are taken care of. Unfortunately for him, his persistence has ruffled all the wrong feathers, but he doesn't know whose or why this should be. As Robicheaux looks for more information, he is further entangled into a seedy web of crime. Sorting through all those threads seems to just bring more trouble, and less understanding. First, Robicheaux finds that he has been targeted, which is OK by him. But his contact with an FBI agent leads to the agent's death and a downward, drunken spiral for Robicheaux. Just when he is starting to pull himself together, Robicheaux's brother becomes a victim, and the detective again teeters, feeling guilt over his brother's situation pull him toward the abyss. He must fight his addictions, while he works out who is responsible. Although Robicheaux knows where he's heading, we don't see it until near the end of the book.
The story is sometimes hard to follow in the details, but the overall plot is easy enough to understand and enjoy. The Neon Rain, Burke's first mystery featuring Detective Dave Robicheaux, is full of references to places and experiences unique to Louisiana. While there isn't much to date the events in the story, you also won't find references to modern technology, leaving it feeling a bit like the Wild West, with wild crime and characters, and where even the good guys play dirty.