James Lee Burke is an amazing writer and there is no better narrator than Will Patton for his works. This book makes you laugh out loud, makes you think, gets you lost in the descriptive power of Burke's words, and you even like the characters. What a combo.
The Burke and Patton team. Can't be beat!
They were all good, some more caricatures and really flesh and blood people. But they populate the story well and make it all come alive.
Reader and Writer from Colorado Springs carefully disguised as a financial advisor all these years. Who knows what lies below a snowy rooftop?
The poetic prose we all love from Burke is safe and sound in this early novel by my best and most favorite writer. But this is a tough read because it's difficult to separate the back story of a Korean war vet, now an alcoholic and pretty dislikable lawyer running for Congress in 1960's Texas. from the current plot line which involves farmworker union organizers in the Rio Grande Valley. I wish it had been one book or the other, because it was distracting making the leap from flash back to present tense. Not a lot of likable characters in a story that often seems unable to tell itself, or to decide which story to tell.
I recommend it to those readers who've already decided they like Hackberry Holland from his two more recent novels, which I liked a lot! You'll be interested to see where Sheriff Holland came from. But if you're not already addicted to Burke's writing, this is not where I'd advise you to start reading.
The characters are all stock personalities done better in later work.
Not my favorite by a long shot, but not without redeeming quality either. The descriptive prose is good as ever. And it's interesting to use this as a gauge for later work.
Another James Lee Burke and Will Patton winner. So why only 3 stars. This is not the typical good guy - bad guy book. It is a bit dark about the inner sole of a man, Hackberry Holland and his inner deamons.
Yes, I have read other books by James Lee Burke and would advise readers to not judge him from this one book. He is an excellent writer.
This is my first book read by Will Patton and I feel he did an outstanding job.
The character was realistic enough, I just did not enjoy reading about a super cocky, drunk that treats everyone like dirt.
I understand the story was intended to give a history of this great character, but ... I sure didn't like him when he was young.
Brilliant narration. Will Patton makes this can't-put-down book into a can't-turn-off story. A troubled, very human hero with bad habits that you would follow anywhere. I've read this book, but I prefer the audible version, because this reader is a master of inflection and timing.
While this selection is not Burke's best (after all, it is an early work) it is still VERY good. I disagree with the review that says this book isn't "about" anything. My feeling is that if you like Burke's style (and his characters), you'll like this. Burke simply knows how to write a novel. And, of course, Will Patton narrating is terrific.
After listening to Rain Gods, I was looking forward to hearing more about Hackberry Holland. This one was disappointing. It was disjointed, rambling and I never got a hint of the plot. I wish I'd passed on this one.
I think the problem many of us are having with this book is that Burke's heroes are all invariably reformed alchoholics on the right side of everything. They are sensitive, intelligent and wise, yet can kick a bad guy's a-- at just the right time. Sure, they all make some colossal blunder during any given book, but we know they have hearts of gold. When he dipped back into Hackberry Holland's back-story for this one, I had a hard time identifying with the young Hack because he seemed despicable to me. I had a doubly hard time understanding how a beautiful young East Coast liberal activist could fall for boorish drunken lout (I guess you had to be there). His transition from drunken slob to enlightened soul was not quite as well handled by the Author (who's many books I have thoroughly enjoyed) as usual, but I'll give him credit, because it was outside of his normal formula. The ending and epilogue were worth the price of admission for me and should be worth a few more Hackberry Holland books down the road. He can turn a beautiful phrase. Well read, as usual.
I am a huge fan of James Lee Burke but I could not figure out what this book was about. Was it about Hollands father? Burke continued to reference Hollands father and John Wesley Hardin. This added nothing to the book. Was it about Holland's Korean war experience? Again he spends quite a bit of time recounting this experience with only little relevance at the end of the book.
It is hard to become interested in the welfare of Holland. He has no charisma and you really do not care what happens to him. Burke should retire this uninteresting character. As usual, Will Patton was wonderful as the narrator. I will not waste my time with another book with Holland as the character.
If you're really tough skinned you might like it. It was a realistic portrayal of an appalling character - Hack Holland was a good guy in Rain Gods (this is a prequel) so he must have had an awakening at some point but I couldn't stand to listen to enough of this one to find out what it was, if it even happens in this book.
James Lee Burke is one of my favorite authors - I hope he comes up with something less gritty next time. I mean he's always gritty, but this book was beyond the pale.
Will Patton was as great as ever. One thing different was this book was told in the first person, so everything is from the main character's point of view.
It was interesting at first to see into the soul of Hack Holland but very quickly I knew more about him than I wanted to.
This is the first time Burke's beautifully poetic narration was not enough to balance the horror that is always a part of his stories.