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Publisher's Summary

From "America’s best novelist" (The Denver Post): a sprawling thriller drenched with atmosphere and intrigue that takes a young boy from a chance encounter with Bonnie and Clyde to the trenches of World War II and the oil fields along the Texas-Louisiana coast.

It is 1934 and the Depression is bearing down when 16-year-old Weldon Avery Holland happens upon infamous criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow after one of their notorious armed robberies. A confrontation with the outlaws ends as Weldon puts a bullet through the rear window of Clyde’s stolen automobile. Ten years later, Second Lieutenant Weldon Holland and his sergeant, Hershel Pine, escape certain death in the Battle of the Bulge and encounter a beautiful young woman named Rosita Lowenstein hiding in a deserted extermination camp. Eventually, Weldon and Rosita fall in love and marry and, with Hershel, return to Texas to seek their fortunes. There, they enter the domain of jackals known as the oil business. They meet Roy Wiseheart - a former Marine aviator haunted with guilt for deserting his squadron leader over the South Pacific and Roy’s wife, Clara, a vicious anti-Semite who is determined to make Weldon and Rosita’s life a nightmare. It will be the frontier justice upheld by Weldon’s grandfather, Texas lawman Hackberry Holland, and the legendary antics of Bonnie and Clyde that shape Weldon’s plans for saving his family from the evil forces that lurk in peacetime America and threaten to destroy them all.

©2014 James Lee Burke. All rights reserved. (P)2014 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    1,505
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    852
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    67
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    40

Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding Addition to the Holland/Texas Saga

The combination of Burke and Patton is without peer. Personally I favor his Hackberry Holland series. This tale involves a cousin of the infamous sherif of Rain Gods.

When I listen to Burke, his attention to landscape and remarkably eloquent descriptions of people, time and space, I find myself wondering if I am taking the natural beauty of my own surroundings for granted. I live in a beautiful city and state, but when I try to describe it, I find myself at a loss for words. Burke's words bring out the beauty and grace of places, and then delivers the impact from their desecration by industry.

I read where a single, significant event in her childhood helped Flannery OConnor develop her genius in writing. Burke uses such an event in the life of his hero, Weldon Holland at age 16 to help define his character with his run in with Bonnie and Clyde. It's brilliant.

This is great tale worth our time. Do not pass this one up.

50 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Almost a bullseye

I think James Lee Burke is in a very small category of elite contemporary fiction writers with the likes of Adrian McKinty, Michael Gruber, and Nelson DeMille. There's nothing about this effort that makes me think differently. The writing is excellent. The story is good. The characters are mostly what I've come to expect from this author. And Will Patton is the ideal choice to narrate James Lee Burke. He does not disappoint.

Still, Burke's books tend to be very dark, peppered with philosophical ruminations about the essence and manifestations of evil. So it was with this one. What was missing for me was the comic relief from the constant barrage of depressing events, recollections, and story twists that a character like Cletus provides in the Dave Robicheaux series.

45 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Near perfect. One of Burke's Best.

Wow this book was great. I found myself holding my breath several times during the last two hours. The ending was awesome. The ending was the best ending of any of Burke's books. Whew!
I'm a big fan of Burke. His Robicheaux series is great, and "The Lost Get-Back Boogie" is one of my favorite books of all times by any author.
Wayfaring Stranger though, is different and better than most of his previous. It feels like Burke stretched during this book and it paid off.
The amazing level of detail that Burke usually brings was all there: descriptions of the scenery, the smells, the appearance of the different characters so you feel like you are there. And it's done with a poetry and smoothness that is beautifully artful.
The cadence, the twists, and the unexpected turns that made me hold my breath were what took this story to the next level. I was on the edge of my seat for so much of this book that it almost felt exhausting. I'm sad it's over.

The one thing that makes this store only "near perfect" for me was the character of Linda Gail. I didn't like her. I probably wasn't suppose to like her, but she was in the story a lot and a couple times I wished he would get back to Weldon and Rosita and Hershel, because she just wasn't very interesting to me.

Will Patton is flawless as usual. He and Burke make the perfect pair. I think as Audible listeners we get a bonus over reading this book, Patton makes the whole experience just that much better. .

69 of 75 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • B.J.
  • Minneapolis, MN, United States
  • 07-22-14

Simply one of the best books of the year.

Over time I've really come to admire James Lee Burke and his writing style. I love his big, flawed characters and their insights about life. The dialogue is crafty and always spot on. In each of his books, I just settle in for the ride and am completely engrossed in the story. This particular book does all that x10.

He made me care so much about the characters that I'm still thinking about them a day after I finished the book. I can't get started on another because I want to know what's happening with Weldon. I loved the strength and dignity he gave to Rosita and the level of respectfulness with which he told her story. These people came and lived with me while I listened to this book and now I miss them.

I always love the attention to detail Burke gives to place and time. I don't know that I've ever had a better glimpse of post-WWII Texas and the heady, reckless oil boom. And it's not just that you can see all of it. Rather, you can feel all of it - the heat, the excitement, the hope and the despair.

I'm not sure this book would have the same impact without Will Patton's impeccable narration. No one does it better. He deserves all the awards there are to give.

43 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

In His Own league


It's Burke therefore it's great. He is one of those authors that has to be placed in a different league, one a few steps higher, like a handicap in golf -- he's just that professional and good with his craft. I've read almost everything he's written; even his books I didn't initially like I have looked back over. I appreciate them more the longer I read, and the more I read. I've not liked some stories, not cared about the subject matter, but I've never been disappointed with the quality of writing or the power of the story. Burke is a phenomenon; a class act, taking on stories of oppression, corruption, and integrity, with larger-than-life characters that seem charged with the iconic traits we all associate with heroes and scoundrels. In many ways, I enjoy him as much as I enjoy McCarthy (though I don't know if you can use *McCarthy* and *enjoy* in the same sentence). His style is identifiable within the first paragraph of any of his books, and always makes me feel like sitting down, once again, with an old very good friend.

Wayfaring Stranger seemed a bit of a departure from Burke's usual crime fiction format. Weldon Holland (who can trace his geneology back to the Hackberry Holland familiar to hard core Burke fans) is a more solitary introspect character than Robicheaux or Holland cousins Billy Bob and Hackberry. Weldon's early memories of a chance encounter with infamous crime partners Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow impacts his life and stays with him through his adulthood, an encounter that reaches into his future to come full circle.

The book covers the fascinating period of time in America after WWII, including the politics and anti-Semitism following the war. It was a time when simple investors became powerful tycoons, when mobsters like Bugsy Siegel rubbed elbows with powerful movie studio moguls, and when Hollywood had the power to make starlets out of girls they discovered at soda fountains -- or break them. And Burke wraps it into a neat circular story.

The story is rich and layered with themes and history, and Burke's writing is as polished and lush as ever, yet, I missed the sparring I've come to love so much from Burke's characters. I miss the white hat morality taking on a barrage of smart-ass comments from the black hats; that back and forth volley between two polar characters that were equally matched. These characters were dynamic, but dark, without much, if any, humor. It's a fine book in every sense, but my personal tastes (regarding Burke's books) have been spoiled by the usual dark story highlighted with a sprinkle of wisdom and copious amounts of witty repartee in his previous novels...thus my 3* for what is probably a 4* book.

34 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark
  • Waltham, MA, United States
  • 05-14-17

Great writing, flat story

James Lee Burke is an amazing writing. His prose is like poetry - beautiful to read or listen to. He is a master of creating a gritty noir atmosphere. The narrator, Will Patton, is great, and perfect for this novel. The problem here is a lack of a compelling story. So many scenes were great, but the story never drew me as a whole. After listening to half the novel, I decided I had had enough. I enjoyed what I heard, but I did not need to hear 7 more hours of more of the same. I loved the Bonny and Clyde scene at the start, and liked the World War 2 scenes, but it got repetitive after that, in the oil country of post-war Texas. I can see why some people love this novel and love this author. Just not me.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 09-03-15

I'm not a fan of James Lee Burke, but...

Wayfaring Stranger is an excellent novel. As one would expect of an actor of Will Patton's caliber, the narration is also excellent.

One thing that fascinates me about the novel is the number and frequency of similes. Only James Lee Burke could pack two similes into the same sentence and he does it again and again.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Love hate relationship

What made the experience of listening to Wayfaring Stranger the most enjoyable?

I have either read or listened to ever work of this author. I am constantly put off by his negative view of humanity. Yet I keep coming back, because he is such a magnificent writer.
He spends the time setting the scenes, developing the characters, that most don't.
Add to that some mysticism and poeticism.
If you want a dark theme, fleshed out characters, protagonists with a slight hint of redemption in the end, JLB is the master of his genre.

21 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Fabulous story line, gripping all the way

What does Will Patton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Will Patton's reading was A+++. I'm a Yankee who now lives in Virginia. Will's reading was perfect for the subject, time and place, enough to make me want to go back and listen to the other Burke books that I've only "read." He gave the book a bigger sense of realness than I get out of just reading -- and I have long enjoyed Burke's incredible descriptions of place and time, just hearing it in my own head. What a treat!

Any additional comments?

I've read all of James Lee Burke's Robichaux series. This was my first foray into any of his other series, and my first Audible experience with his books. The characters I've met so far are well drawn, believable and easy to admire. They are all flawed and yet are steadfast without seeming false. Burke's descriptions of the environment in all cases is mesmerizing and melodic, with true harsh notes (hmmm, just like his humans). And as I said earlier, Will Patton is the perfect narrator for these stories!

Oh - the reason for the 4 stars for the story: Everything was believable up to the end,when I just could not quite get it. But I still loved the book and will read it again!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Never ending!

About 3/4 hours TOO long. I kept going because I love listening to the poetry/prose of the writing. I'm not sure if I'll ever listen again, it had its high points but so many more low ones. I love most JLB novels and Patton is a super narrator. This story was an interesting one and I love stories that take in decades of life and a lot of history and perhaps this is how people were (are) but I found it very hard to listen to when some of the people were mean and unkind and selfish.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful