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Feast Day of Fools: A Novel (Hackberry Holland Book 3) by [Burke, James Lee]
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Feast Day of Fools: A Novel (Hackberry Holland Book 3) Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews Review

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


"As Burke steers the elaborately structured narrative toward its violent conclusion, we are afforded looks inside the tortured psyches of his various combatants, finding there the most unlikely of connections between the players. This is one of Burke's biggest novels, in terms of narrative design, thematic richness, and character interplay, and he rises to the occasion superbly, a stand-up guy at the keyboard, as always. . . . Though he is best known for his Dave Robicheaux series, the broader canvas of this Hackberry Holland adventure makes a fittingly grand stage on which to play out such a landmark event in American publishing."--Bill Ott, "Booklist" (starred review)

"The dialogue scenes, along with the action sequences, the South Texas landscape and the indelibly conflicted characters make you want to give Burke a medal."--"Kirkus Reviews"

"James Lee Burke is, quite simply, a genius, an exemplar of all that is great in American writing, and "Feast Day of Fools" is moving, and humane, and poetically, terrifyingly brilliant. As Burke gets older, he just gets better: in doing so, he gives hope to the generation of writers influenced by him, while simultaneously reminding us of how far we still have to go to be that good."--John Connolly, "New York Times "bestselling author of "The Burning Soul"

"[O]utstanding. . . . The richness of Burke's characters, always one of his strengths, reaches new heights . . . . The intricately plotted narrative takes numerous unexpected turns, and Burke handles his trademark themes of social justice and corruption with his usual subtlety."--"Publishers Weekly" (starred review)

An Indie Next Pick for October 2011

"["Feast Day of Fools"] further cements Burke's status as one of America's greatest contemporary novelists. . . . Burke weaves a tapestry of unique characters whose widely differing motivations enrich his tale. . . . This rich novel will satisfy Burke's fans and should draw new ones who have not yet had the privilege of reading his works."--"Library Journal"

"Nobody turns suspense into poetry like James Lee Burke."--"San Antonio Express-News"

"Nobody writes quite like James Lee Burke. He gets better with each successive book. . . . Hold on tight, this is a wild ride."--"Dayton Daily News"

"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. . . . 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."--Michael Connelly, "New York Times" bestselling author of "The Lincoln Lawyer"

"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"

"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"

"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"

"Burke's evocative prose remains a thing of reliably fierce wonder."--"Entertainment Weekly"

"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"

An Indie Next List Pick for October 2011

"Reading "Feast Day of Fools" is an experience in yin and yang. It's a beautiful poem shot full of lead. It's like a picture postcard slashed with a bloody knife. It's heartbreakingly gorgeous and sandpaper-harsh, both at the same time. . . . [If] you're up for a wild ride through the sagebrush, then, "Feast Day of Fools" is a book to own."--"Flint Journal"

"At 75, Burke is writing each book as if it could be his final one. . . . ["Feast Day of Fools"] is soaked with a sense of mortality. . . . It's easy to hear echoes of Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy, but Burke is his own writer. He carries off a rich underlayer of Christian imagery without falling into predictable symbolism. Burke is a master of meaty dialogue, darkly funny passages in which characters reveal themselves while talking at cross-purposes. And this woebegone place, beset by thunderstorms that don't penetrate the hard soil, is just as vivid, though very different, from the swampy Louisiana of his Robicheaux novels. . . . Burke uses the simple framework of a series mystery to explore a world at the border of the realistic and the mythic."--"The Columbus Dispatch"

"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"

"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"

"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"""

Product Details

  • File Size: 2411 KB
  • Print Length: 477 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Publication Date: September 27, 2011
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IK98B0
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,794 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
At the age of 75 James Lee Burke is showing no signs of slowing down. In this, his 30th novel we find a stark landscape peopled by the morally insane. Sheriff Hackberry Holland returns to his jurisdiction in one of the most savage areas on the planet, the Texas border with Mexico. Readers of "Rain Gods" (2009) will immediately recognize the terrain and Hack Holland's haunted eyes.

Hack is shadowed by ghosts. There are his memories of being tortured as a POW in North Korea. There are his guilty recollections of blackouts and drunken sex sprees in Mexico when he was a younger man. And there is the shadow of his dead wife. She died from ovarian cancer a dozen years ago.

Of course the book opens with a gruesome murder. Soon we are delighted to realize that JLB's most evil villain ever, Preacher Jack Collins, survived after "Rain Gods." Collins does his killing with a Thompson sub machine gun. He's a religious fanatic who has twisted the words of the Bible for his own morally insane purposes.

Then there's the fugitive, a man who is hiding out. The Feds are after him. Criminal cartels want to sell him to the highest bidder. Terrorists will kill to learn his military secrets. The Feds want to shoot him on sight. Hack and his deputy Pam Tibbs are in a race to find him first. Meanwhile the morally insane wreak their terrible vengeance.

This is Burke's best book. He has opened the channel so wide. The words flow. An utter delight to read!
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Format: Hardcover
The prolific James Lee Burke draws on the wisdom of his years to explore the nature of good and evil, an intricate skirmish played out against nature's vast canvas in Texas and Mexico, an unfolding drama of corrupt men and their mercenaries scrambling for control of one errant trophy: a man with intimate knowledge of Predator drones that is of inestimable value to whomever controls him. But in the wayward wilderness of a land steeped in history and the legends of ancestors, ghosts rise up to witness a new breed of killers, stone-faced men who torture and kill with impunity, a who's who of criminals, from a Russian former employee of the CIA to a narcissistic murderer long believed dead, as Sheriff Hackberry Holland, closing in on eighty decades, attempts to keep his county safe from the monsters that have brought personal agendas to their own killing fields. Tramping through a shifting terrain of immigrants and those who prey on them, the novel is a crucible of hate and rage where foolish men think demons can be exorcised by the exertion of power.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was not the only reviewer to observe that the first Hackberry Holland novel, Rain Gods, felt like a designed rebuttal to No Country for Old Men. I liked that about the book, that it was as dark and ugly as McCarthy's novel but without the hopelessness and despair that McCarthy traffics in like intellectual heroin.

Unfortunately, that element of the series went seriously off the rails in Feast Day of Fools. We got it the first time, Mr. Burke: McCarthy is a flatulent, posturing windbag. But frankly, the wind in this novel is pretty noisome too. As in McCarthyland, the almost unimaginably horrific is commonplace here, and not a moment goes by, not an inch of ground is visible that ordinary humans would recognize as part of their lives. And here too, everybody, down to the most brain-damaged thug, loves to discuss the finer points of theology, ethics, and aesthetics and, in such discussions, waxes monotonously eloquent. I mean, we have a character without education, grace, or wit (his favorite expression involves asserting that he did something to your mother's body that contains not one but two concepts I can't discuss in an Amazon review) saying to his boss (yes, I paraphrase): "Why do you treat someone who has nothing but admiration for you with such disrespect? Do you not see how this reflects badly on your own character?" I mean, we know McCarthy is not kidding. But is Burke? I don't think so.

In a word, Feast Day of Fools is pretentious, theatrical and sentimental in that worst sense -- filled with the artifice of feeling. One character who talks like Hackberry Holland is charming. An entire cast, not so much. Reality here is whatever Burke says it is.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of James Lee Burke since the early 1990's. I can't remember which book I bought first, but it was in some back-alley bookshop in Queensland, Australia. Mr Burke was almost completely unknown in this part of the world and I had to wait until I visited the UCLA bookshop in 1996 before I could buy "In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead" and "Heaven's Prisoners". Over time, as Mr Burke's popularity waxed more books appeared in Australia. I've read most of them. At least once. When Google maps appeared, I was able to examine New Iberia and find out about some of the places I had read about. Just recently I came across a recipe for gumbo, which I have made numerous times since. Mr Burke's writing has created a powerful desire to visit a part of the United States whose culture and geography I had never before realised had existed.

In his novels, the setting became dynamic characters, the power of his pen wove a tapestry of evocative landscapes. The Louisiana flooded forests became real, as did other landscapes of other stories. Evil became manifest in characters whose hearts did not exist; evil was something other than the absence of good; it was a living power that individuals adopted and then mobilised as it consumed their beings. The good guys were never quite good, but humanly flawed.

But "Feast Day of Fools" left me cold. I have never before read a novel by Mr Burke with the desire to get to the end so I could finish it. I was not moved at all by this novel. There was so much that was so unlike Mr Burke's writing. Sure, there was a surfeit of bad guys. But they were all after a nondescript person who had a "secret" about a technology that one could find at a local model plane shop, at least in basic mode.
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