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Rain Gods: A Novel (Hackberry Holland Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

James Lee Burke
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $9.99
Kindle Price: $8.54
You Save: $1.45 (15%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Burke returns with a masterfully told, high-octane thriller in which a young Iraqi war veteran and his girlfriend find themselves on the run after a series of brutal murders in the Deep South. Fortunately, Sheriff Hack Holland is on the case and back in a world he'd tried to leave behind so long ago. While there are familiar aspects to this story, Burke's writing never fails to captivate nor does Will Patton's narration disappoint. As Sheriff Holland, Patton is gritty and intense, but subtly heartbroken and grieving over the death of his wife. As war veteran Pete Flores, Patton creates a relatable character who is at once terrified and exposed while still as heroic as one can possibly be. A Simon & Schuster hardcover (Reviews, June 1). (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics have nothing but praise for Burke's latest Hackberry Holland novel. An author with a deep regional feel for parts of the United States -- including Texas and Louisiana -- Burke aptly portrays "a range war in Southwest Texas -- a pitched battle between gangs of displaced bad guys, fighting among themselves for the new territory against the outmatched locals" (New York Times Book Review). He revisits themes of sin and redemption, but adds unusual layers of depth to his story with a keen exploration of human flaws and true characterizations. Preacher Jack intrigued critics to no end, while even minor characters were wholly compelling. Burke's fans will relish this fast-paced, tense, and harrowing addition to his oeuvre.

Product Details

  • File Size: 632 KB
  • Print Length: 449 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1439128243
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 Reprint edition (July 14, 2009)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439137366
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439137369
  • ASIN: B002EF2AKM
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,098 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
92 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Lee Burke Does Cormac McCarthy... August 4, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
And, for the most part, succeeds. If Burke doesn't twist and torture and then so beautifully reassemble passages in McCarthy's unique version of the English language, he is certainly no rookie when it comes to spinning his own brand of moody, atmospheric prose never too far a field from Faulkner's steamy bayous and weighty themes - but decidedly more readable. In the spellbinding "Rain Gods", Burke moves west from Louisiana's delta and Dave Robicheaux's perpetual but lovable gloom to a Texas southern border town where Korean War veteran Hackberry Holland is sheriff. "Hack" stumbles upon the shallow churchyard grave of nine illegal alien women, setting off a deliciously convoluted mystery/thriller featuring a rich field - rich even by Burke's lofty standards - of characters ranging from the mildly flawed to the unrepentantly deranged. Like Robicheaux, Sheriff Holland is haunted by ghosts from his past - hefting a trunk full of baggage that carries the nightmares of North Korean POW camps, the guilt from days of alcoholism and debauchery, and sorrow over the loss of his second wife. Holland pursues his own brand of justice battling these internal demons as well as a host of those in real flesh and blood - from the serial-killing psycho "Preacher" to three-letter government agencies not afraid to sacrifice the mostly innocent to bag the bigger game.

Like McCarthy's "No Country For Old Men", "Rain Gods" deals with the drug trade across the border, and like "No Country", it is brutal, violent, and realistic. Burke, always the champion of the poor working class and never afraid to proselytize, lays it on thick here, though without Bush in the White House to cast as the villain, the targets of his righteous but sincere venom is a bit confused.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thou Shalt Not Put False Gods Before Me August 28, 2009
There is much to admire and lots to like in the writing of James Lee Burke. At its best, his prose can be poetic and evocative. When he doesn't descend to favorite tropes (for example, "pardners" and "swinging dicks") or let himself slip over the perilous edge of metaphor ("[he] ate a pattern of buckshot as wide as his hand and watched his brains splatter across the side panel of his truck"), he uses the language well and is a pleasure to read.

If I have a criticism, and I do, it's that he leaves his stories ragged. Too many characters are allowed to bow in, often for no seeming purpose, and subplots head off in their own directions like pets that have escaped their leashes. It sometimes seems that Mr. Burke just can't tame the writing beast that lives within him.

Rain Gods is a case in point. There are three or four sets of bad guys when one or two would suffice. There are several layers of cops, at odds with one another. Another bunch of characters is groomed for unlikely heroism. Sadly, I really don't feel that I came to know and understand these people through the long course of the book.

The novel suffers in comparison to Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, a comparison that is inescapable. Both novels are centered on an old-time Texas sheriff with a past he is trying in some way to live down. An innocent and his woman are fleeing pursuit by a single-minded avenger. Border traffickers litter the landscape with bodies. The bete noir of Rain Gods, a villain called Preacher Jack Collins, is one part McCarthy's Chugre and two parts Judge Holden from Blood Meridian. The story of both novels is one of moral entropy.

But where Burke is expansive, McCarthy is spare.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent, poignant, powerful... July 25, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I always look forward to a new book in James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series each July. So I was a bit disappointed to discover that Rain Gods is not part of this series. But it didn't take me long to enjoy it--every bit as much as Robicheaux. In fact, I think it was a good change for him. Although it takes place in Texas, it's not part of his Billy Bob Holland series, either (although Holland plays a very small role in this book).

The time is post-Katrina, and a number of displaced New Orleans crime figures find themselves relocated to Texas. These guys are into everything from drug smuggling and prostitution to murder for hire. Sheriff Hackberry Holland gets an anonymous phone call about nine Asian women buried in a mass grave. Hack has had a checkered history, battling the demons caused by his time in a Korean POW camp. After spending time as a lawyer, he finds himself as county sheriff later in life. That's not necessarily a bad thing. He is told that "you're stubborn as a cinder block." In Rain Gods, Hack tries to juggle a lot of balls. While Hack is trying to solve the crime, the FBI and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) have their own agenda while a hit-man named Jack "Preacher" Collins is trying to kill anyone associated with the Asian mass-murder.

Preacher is perhaps one of the most fearsome villains in fiction. Thinking himself the right hand of God, his code of ethics is chilling. Yet, he often does the right (and unpredictable) thing. It is intriguing to see him match wits with a number of characters, including Hack. As Hack says, "If certain things we do or witness don't leave a stone bruise on the soul, there's something wrong with our humanity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Can't go wrong with James Lee Burke
Published 10 days ago by dgs
1.0 out of 5 stars I was very disappointed and really struggled to finish the book rather...
Too much fluff and not enough stuff. The author was too concerned about his flowery descriptive phrases rather than developing the plot. Read more
Published 10 days ago by karen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book, prompt shipping, fair price. Excellent transaction.
Published 22 days ago by Roger R Wallis
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great characters. Follow them forever
Published 23 days ago by Dixie Watson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read. Burke is a real word craftsman and ...
Excellent read. Burke is a real word craftsman and uses words to paint fantastic mental pictures. Love his work!
Published 26 days ago by marty aaron
4.0 out of 5 stars Buried detail
This author seems to have one of the greatest forms to detail than most on his field. As always this book was hard to put down. There was always a new twist. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Unknown
5.0 out of 5 stars I've enjoyed every one of Burke's books that I've read
I've enjoyed every one of Burke's books that I've read, but this is one of the best. If you're a fan, or even if you've never read one of his books, don't miss this one.
Published 1 month ago by Tom Bernstein author of A Rumor of Justice
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love all by James Lee Burke
Published 1 month ago by J-fabrice Mathieu
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit like No Country for Old Men
A bit like No Country for Old Men. Both authors are favourites of mine so that, s a compliment to the book.!
Published 1 month ago by John Bestwick
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read For Mystery Fans
Burke us always a good read. Characters are interesting & the plot always ends with a an unexpected twist.
Published 1 month ago by Judy Dixon-Nielsen
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More About the Author

James Lee Burke, a rare winner of two Edgar Awards, is the author of twenty-three previous novels, including such New York Times bestsellers as Bitterroot, Purple Cane Road, Cimarron Rose, Jolie Blon's Bounce, and Dixie City Jam. He lives in Missoula, Montana, and New Iberia, Louisiana.

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