I'd never read a James Lee Burke novel before getting my hands on Rain Gods. If his prior work is anything like this latest book, I can't believe what I've been missing.
On the surface, Rain Gods follows Texas Sheriff Hackberry Holland and his deputy Pam Tibbs as they investigate the slaughter of nine Chinese women in Texas border town. Hack is a wonderfully drawn character, an iconoclast of the highest order, and his deputy provides a great tough-gal counterpoint. Their search for the killer is overlaid against the complexities of Hack and Pam's relationship (the details of which I'll leave for you to read), and the entire thing works fantastically.
But there's more to the story. At the center of all the violence is Preacher Jack Collins, a killer for hire who considers himself the right hand of God and is one of the most richly drawn, frightening villains in recent memory. Collins is like a tornado; get too close and you get sucked into his sphere of influence, and only he knows how you'll get spat out.
The end result is a wonderful tale in which every Burke shows us the strengths and vulnerabilities, the qualities to despise and to admire, in each and every character. Burke's prose is wonderful, and on more than one occasion I stopped reading just to think about the fantastic paragraph I had just finished.
This is a story about justice and friendship. Sheriff Hackberry Holland's office received a call that there were shots fired behind an old church in this community by the Mexican border. He finds the bodies of nine Asian women. Later, he learns that they had balloons filled with drugs in their stomachs. The theory is that they were on their way to work in a house of prostitution. With James Lee Burke's keen ability to describe settings and … more
In his second Hackberry Holland novel, "Rain Gods," James Lee Burke explores the battle faced by Texas lawmen charged with stopping drugs and illegal aliens from crossing the state's southern border. The fact that Hurricane Katrina flushed some of the worst New Orleans scum into Texas, criminals who thrive on human suffering and weaknesses, including human trafficking, makes Sherif Holland's job just that much tougher. Hack Holland admits to himself that he has lived a full … more
Normally I write a detailed review of a book. I'm not going to do so here becuase this book isn't worth it. Reading the novel is a chore. With characters that we have seen before under other names, storylines used before, and internal monologoues used before, this novel comes across as a way to start a new character and yet retread everything. I kept waiting for the book to start working for me and got to the end before it ever happened. Quite frankly, if I didn't have to … more
James Lee Burke writes some of the most beautiful prose seen today. He is a master of the disappearing regional character, whether the sturdy independent types of the Northwest or the legendary languidness of an imagined New Orleans. Burke is usually a joy to read. Typically, Burke's heroes are introspective, with a checkered past often includes alcoholism, memories of wars, shootouts and what have you. The storyline of "Rain Gods" abandons post-Katrina New Orleans for Texas. … more
My background is in the arts; I designed and ran a television station in the 80's, was a record producer and independent engineer in the late 80's and early 90's, then formed one of the first online advertising … more
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