Celebrated crime master and two-time Edgar Award winner James Lee Burke returns with a gorgeously crafted, brutally resonant chronicle of violence along the Texas-Mexico border.
Sheriff Hackberry Holland patrols a small Southwest Texas border town, meting out punishment and delivering justice in his small square of this magnificent but lawless land. When an alcoholic ex-boxer named Danny Boy Lorca begs to be locked up after witnessing a man tortured to death by a group of bandits, Hack and his deputy, Pam Tibbs, slowly extract the Indian man’s gruesome tale. It becomes clear that the desert contains a multitude of criminals, including serial murderer Preacher Jack Collins (whom The New York Times called “one of Burke’s most inspired villains”).
Holland’s investigation leads him to Anton Ling, a mysterious Chinese woman whose steely demeanor and aristocratic beauty compel Hackberry to return to her home again and again as the investigation unfolds.
James Lee Burke is at his engrossing and atmospheric best in this, his 13th novel, as Hackberry plumbs the depths of man’s inhumanity to man - from killers-for-hire, to the U.S. government, to the misguided souls in search of a better life across the border.
©2011 James Lee Burke (P)2011 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
“[O]utstanding.... The richness of Burke's characters, always one of his strengths, reaches new heights.... The intricately plotted narrative takes numerous unexpected turns, and Burke handles his trademark themes of social justice and corruption with his usual subtlety.” (Publishers Weekly)
“As Burke steers the elaborately structured narrative toward its violent conclusion, we are afforded looks inside the tortured psyches of his various combatants, finding there the most unlikely of connections between the players. This is one of Burke’s biggest novels, in terms of narrative design, thematic richness, and character interplay, and he rises to the occasion superbly, a stand-up guy at the keyboard, as always... Though he is best known for his Dave Robicheaux series, the broader canvas of this Hackberry Holland adventure makes a fittingly grand stage on which to play out such a landmark event in American publishing.” (Bill Ott, Booklist)
“The dialogue scenes, along with the action sequences, the South Texas landscape and the indelibly conflicted characters make you want to give Burke a medal.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Halfway through this story, I got tired of the author's endless metaphors and similes and his use of phrases like --"the greenness of the grass"; --"the blueness of her eyes" This kind of description, plus the endless reflections on past miseries of the main characters (or, as Burke would put it: "the endlessness of his reflections were like . . ." -- ), made me skip around to find the action that moved the story along. Back to Literature 101, James Lee.
A truly awful book! There was a time when James Lee Burke wrote great books, books one looked forward to reading or listening to. For the last few years he has become fasinated with flowery prose that does nothing to advance the story line and makes listening impossible. If someone is going out at sunset, we only need to know that it is sunset, every color in the sky, every blade of grass, every sound, the crunch of the gravel, does not need describing and only distracts from the story. Of course that could be the plan, the story line is so thin that it won’t stand on it on. In any case I gave up on this one after an hour. I’d ask for my credit back, except I should have known better, his last couple have been the same, label me a slow learner.
I have read all of the James Lee Burke unabridged books. In my mind this is his best. As is typical for James Lee Burke, his prose and descriptions are wonderful to listen to. The plot in this book will keep you captivated. I must warn you there are some pretty bad - I mean evil people in this book. Will Patton is at his best. This has to be one of the best books I have ever listened to on Audible. I am probably going to go into James Lee Burke withdrawal until the next one.
The never-ending similes and metaphors in Burke's writing had me listening more for the next laughable description rather than paying attention to the plot. Take "like" and "as" out of his vocabulary and nothing's there.
The reader needs to stick to reading Robichaux and stay the hell out of Texas. His mispronunciations were grating and glaring to anyone vaguely familiar with the story's setting and his accents so stereotypical that they were insulting.
This is one incredible journey into the human psychic of many different characters. Even the most evil of the characters has some reason to feel some empathy toward. This is a
suspense-packed action story with many dark twists and turns. You don't read a Burke novel, you savor it. The reader is the best I've ever listened to and is the perfect compliment to a great novel.
I have listened to or read just about all of this writers books, but found this one to be so overdone that I found myself fast forwarding a lot. The constant reminiscing by the characters was annoying. This whole story could have been told better in half the time.
If you are not comfortable with people who are constantly bickering, this is NOT the book for you. I was aware of the violence, and thought, OK I can put up with that. But I was not prepared for the insufferable dialog. The "good guys" constantly have conversations that make me look forward to the violence so I can get a break. The main protagonist, the sheriff goes along making whatever innocent comments, and his female deputy is always waiting to just ram it down his throat. If this is typical of this author, I want no more of it.
I love Burke, and love Will Patton beyond words, but this book is such a disappointment. Burke has slid from fierceness to violence, from passion to rage, and neither slide serves any purpose. Layer the endless gratuitous violence onto a story that isn't compelling, and no character to care about, and it is a book not worth the time, nor money. It is sad he???s decided to hide his amazing talent.
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