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Publisher's Summary

When Hackberry Holland became sheriff of a tiny Texas town near the Mexican border, he'd hoped to leave certain things behind: his checkered reputation, his haunted dreams, and his obsessive memories of the good life with his late wife, Rie. But the discovery of the bodies of nine illegal aliens, machine-gunned to death and buried in a shallow grave behind a church, soon makes it clear that he won't escape so easily. As Hack and Deputy Sheriff Pam Tibbs attempt to untangle the threads of this complex and grisly case, a damaged young Iraq veteran, Pete Flores, and his girlfriend, Vikki Gaddis, are running for their lives, hoping to outwit the bloodthirsty criminals who want to kill Pete for his involvement in the murders. The only trouble is, Pete doesn't know who he's running from: drunk and terrified, he fled the scene of the crime when the shooting began. And there's a long list of people who want Pete and Vikki dead: crime boss Hugo Cistranos, who hired Pete for the operation; Nick Dolan, a strip club owner and small-time gangster with revenge on his mind; and a mysterious God-fearing serial-killer-for-hire known as Preacher Jack Collins, with enigmatic motives of his own.
With the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and a host of cold-blooded killers on Pete and Vikki's trail, it's up to Sheriff Holland to find them first and figure out who's behind the mass murder before anyone else ends up dead. In this thrilling and intricate work, James Lee Burke has once again proven himself a master storyteller and a perceptive chronicler of the darkest corners of the human heart.
©2009 James Lee Burke (P)2009 Simon & Schuster Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Catherine on 07-25-09

Divided Loyalties and Sultry Prose

Only a master writer can leave you rocking on a see-saw between grinding your teeth over the moral imbeciles and cheering for the women of courage and backbone in this book. You think you'd hate these guys, but Burke finds and shows you just enough of their humanity that you understand the main characters.

Take your time and enjoy the pictures painted because you're going to be right there, smelling and tasting the Texas days and nights. This author gets under your skin with the characters; he doesn't tell you through trite phrases and meaningless gestures.

No highbrow literature here. Just a fine story, skillfully told. If you haven't read James Lee Burke before jump right in. If you have, you'll feel right at home. The narrator is like a fine barbecue, slow and low so the story is so tender it falls off the bone.

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17 of 17 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Tim on 08-06-09

A Modern Masterpiece

This book and the narration are so good that they almost deserve a class of their own. As another reviewer noted this story does bear a passing resemblance to No Country for Old Men, so if you liked that movie that's likely a good indicator for this book. I'm not a huge fan of Burke, I find his Louisiana novels (much like True Blood on HBO) a little hard to take, but this Texas badlands story is simply a masterpiece. The narration is spectacular, it's a little disconcerting that the lead villain sounds exactly like George W Bush, but it's hard to imagine how it could be improved upon. The story is complex with many interwoven threads so you need to be able to give the story your reasonably full attention to really appreciate the mastery of plot and language deployed here. The chief bad guy (W.) may be the best drawn and most complex literary monster since Hannibal Lector. The hero is grittier than a sandwich eaten at the beach, the cavalcade of supporting cast have such a comprehensive range of character flaws and challenges that it does get a bit Dostoyevsky grim from time to time, but never ceases to enthrall.

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26 of 27 people found this review helpful

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