Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2011
: James Lee Burke’s impressive body of work spans five decades and includes two Edgar Award-winning mysteries--yet his 30th book, Feast Day of Fools
, may arguably be his best effort to date. In this sequel to his 2009 novel, Rain Gods
, Burke returns to the hard-scrabble Texas town on the Mexican border, and its contemplative sheriff Hackberry Holland. Holland is a quintessential Burke hero—deeply moral, tortured by past sins, appalled at the depravity of our fallen world, and firmly committed to justice. Feast Day of Fools
opens with a horrific murder in the desert. One man is tortured and dismembered by a menacing psychopath named Krill. Another man, a government agent whom Krill kidnapped and planned to sell to Al Qaeda, escapes into the night. In its aftermath, Holland encounters a vibrant cast of characters—including Anton Ling, an enigmatic woman whose home is a place of refuge to desperate immigrants, and the riveting Preacher Jack Collins, a terrifying serial killer, who had seemingly died at the end of Rain Gods
. Packed with lush imagery and allegorical heft, Feast Day of Fools
is a tightly wound thriller that reconfirms James Lee Burke’s status as a master storyteller.--Shane Hansanuwat
Amazon Exclusive: Michael Connelly Reviews Feast Day of Fools Michael Connelly is a former journalist and best-selling author of The Scarecrow, The Fifth Witness, The Brass Verdict, and The Lincoln Lawyer
You know what is rare? A veteran and prodigious writer who never lets you down. Who, with each book, and I’m talking about a lot of books, makes you feel like you have discovered something new, learned some hidden truth about human behavior and society. James Lee Burke is one of those rarities. Book to book he keeps it going, never disappointing. Last year's masterpiece is just prelude to this year's new masterpiece.
It flat out astounds me. I can count the names of other writers in this category on one hand. There is no magic formula for this. It's something that comes from within, an indeterminate mixture of craft and wisdom and the relentless pursuit of perfection. It comes from knowing deep in the bones that life is about reconciliation and redemption. Burke's books carry these truths in spades.
About twenty-five years ago I picked up a book called The Neon Rain in a bookstore simply because I liked the cover. I read the flaps and read the first page and went to the cash register. Soon I was into my first ride with James Lee Burke.
The Neon Rain was that year's masterpiece. This year, we have Feast Day of Fools and my survey of Burke books in between concludes that he remains the heavy weight champ, a great American novelist whose work, taken individually or as a whole, is unsurpassed.
It is the writer's job to look out the window at the world and tell us how he sees it. In this book Burke puts the unblinking eye on the issues of politics and immigration and religion, synthesizing it all down to the character and impulse of violence and vengeance. At center, he gives us Hackberry Holland, a man who carries the past with him like the Texas sheriff's badge pinned to his chest. He gives us villains as treacherous as any ever put down on page. And he gives us prose as deeply etched and poetic as the landscape along the Texas-Mexico border. Here’s just one little taste that I loved: "Hackberry realized that he was about to witness one of those moments when evil reveals itself for what it is-–insane in its fury and self-hatred and its animus at whatever reminds it of itself."
This is a story about the evil that men do. It is allegory. It is knowledge. As one of the characters says to the man who has witnessed his cruelty, "Maybe one day you will understand men like us."
I think James Lee Burke does and this year's masterpiece takes us closer to the heart of the matter. It makes us look through the window and see the world in a new way. --Michael Connelly
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
An Indie Next List Pick for October 2011
“Holy shit does this novel crush into its pages a whole war chest of bloody drama and brutal questions about what it means to be an American and a Christian and a Christian American in the new century. . . . James Lee Burke—muscular and elegiac, brutal and compassionate—is a Stetson-wearing, spur-jangling giant among novelists.”—Benjamin Percy for Esquire
“Burke’s evocative prose remains a thing of reliably fierce wonder.”—Entertainment Weekly
“James Lee Burke presses onward with his singular mission to rewrite the American western in Feast Day of Fools
. . . Burke is constructing a whole mew mythology in this series, with characters haunted by history and driven by ghosts. . . . Hackberry Holland’s assertion that ‘a martial and savage spirit had ruled these hills’ since the time of the conquistadors is a good man’s way of saying that the violence we do sinks into the ground we walk on and becomes part of our collective heritage.”—The New York Times Book Review
“James Lee Burke's thirty superbly written mysteries and Westerns have always been allegorical, illuminating the grandest of themes. Over the years, he has written about racism, neocolonialism, the rape of the environment, the hijacking of Christianity by hateful bigots and the futility of war. He has written about manipulative political and business figures, and about the quest for individual and national redemption. He has also explored the nature of evil. . . . In Feast Day of Fools
, Burke pulls all of his themes together in a master work that comprises his unified theory of America at the beginning of the 21st century. . . . And as always in a Burke novel, the landscape is vividly described in passages so poetic they could be broken into lines of verse.”—Bruce DeSilva, The Associated Press
“He’s a genius, Burke, and I read everything he puts out. All his novels are about good vs. evil and how hard it is to overcome evil. This one’s about a Texas sheriff and two villains, one associated with the [drug] cartels, the other a mass murderer. The three of them collide.”—Bill O'Reilly for the New York Post
“When the literary lights of the 21st century go marching in, James Lee Burke will be leading the parade. For five decades, Burke has created memorable novels that weave exquisite language, unforgettable characters, and social commentary into written tapestries that mirror the contemporary scene. His work transcends genre classification. . . . Feast Day of Fools
is a richly complex novel with several themes and subplots. . . . extraordinary characterizations, dialogue, sense of place, and an almost mystical, allegorical summation.”—Philadelphia Inquirer
“Riveting . . . Burke is creating an allegorical, almost Biblical setting here: The lost wander hopelessly in the desert, seeking revenge or redemption or some terrible mix of both. The moral center in all of this is Hackberry Holland, who feels old ‘in the way people feel old when they have more knowledge of the world than they need.’ He’s Burke’s most fascinating character, a man whose sense of justice has been shaken but not destroyed. Equally compelling is Pam Tibbs, the most no-nonsense woman in fictional law enforcement (‘Men often thought she was trying to be cute. They were mistaken’). The push-and-pull between the two is just one more of Burke’s thrilling examples of the mysteries of the human heart.”—The Miami Herald
“Like the hero of his 30th work, to be published Tuesday, James Lee Burke delivers—again. There's a reason Burke, 75, has earned the Grand Master title from the Mystery Writers of America and is tagged by some colleagues as the greatest living mystery writer. . . . He combines complex characterization, driving action and a philosophical bent—and his consistency is remarkable, carrying him through 18 Dave Robicheaux books, set in Louisiana, and now the third novel in the Hack Holland series. The man is legendary, and rightly so. . . . But Feast Day of Fools
is more than action. It's a sprawling, compelling, allegorical story with characters that just won't get out of my mind. Through it all, Burke shares some of his hard-won knowledge about life. And that makes it one of the Grand Master's best.”—New Orleans Times-Picayune
“Nobody turns suspense into poetry like James Lee Burke.”—San Antonio Express-News
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.