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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Charles Atkinson on 10-13-11
Outstanding story with remarkable delivery.
I find Burke to be one of the best novelists in the suspense genre. His characters are flawed, believable and wonderful to discover.
This book is one of a series about a sheriff of a small town on the Texas/Mexico border with a dark past, Hackberry Holland, but it is not necessary to read any of them in order.
Will Patton is a remarkable actor and the best reader I have encountered. He brings the characters to life and makes Burke's unique and eloquent prose a haven of pleasure.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
By Mel on 10-06-11
Shoot Out at the More-Than-OK Corral
Most of the reviews I've read thus far, in spite of the disparity they contain, have valid points. I'll offer what I think is probably most helpful to someone considering this book: Burke is flat out a magnificent writer, his command of language, his artistic prose, his adeptness at continuity, and his strong characters. I don't know that anyone, besides Cormac McCarthy, can tell a such a raw story more beautifully, which is some feat when it comes to describing horrific gore and violence. But he does so in a disconnected slow motion way that makes it tolerable and crucial to the story. He does not seem to worry about abridgement--and why should he? People crave fast action, in-your-face stories, and Burke doesn't write for that market. He could be accused of filling the pages with, as one reviewer put it, "kitchen sink" characters and plots--so may be best enjoyed in small doses rather than devoured in a 16 hr. marathon. (*Possibly consider the abridged edition?) This is not fast food, but rather a dining experience. It is intense, rich, and can give you something like heartburn if you consume it all at one sitting; you need to walk away from this feast every now and then to avoid overload. The landscapes are so vividly described you all most choke on the dust, the characters, especially Hackberry (who ironically accuses himself of speaking too many "idle thoughts") is amazingly sculpted by Burke. This is not a book that will sit nicely in your head, but savored in bits is a great read. Will Patton is flawless in his narration, where in Rain Gods (previous novel about Preacher Collins) I thought his twang was heavy and distracting. If you know what your getting in for, I highly recommend.
38 of 41 people found this review helpful