Thursday, May 24, 2012

Feast Day of Fools

I recently finished the latest novel by one of my top 3 favorite authors. Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke did not disappoint. Burke is such a master of the English language -- it's a joy to read anything he writes. The opening sentence:
Some people said Danny Boy Lorca's visions came from the mescal that had fried his brains, or the horse-quirt whippings he took around the ears when he served time on Sugar Land Farm, or the fact he'd been a middleweight club fighter through a string of dust-blown sinkholes where the locals were given a chance to beat up what was called a tomato can, a fighter who leaked blood every place he was hit, in this case a rumdum Indian who ate his pain and never flinched when his opponents broke their hands on his face.
My very favorite Burke novels are his Dave Robicheaux ones; Feast Day of Fools is one in another of his series, his Hackberry Holland books. Holland, like Robicheaux, is a sober man in the later years of his life who has chosen a life in law enforcement. He is haunted by very specific trauma related to Vietnam, the death of his beloved wife, indignities suffered at the hands of his father, and his past as a violent drunk.

This novel focuses, as the earlier Holland novels do although I have not read them yet, on the mass murderer Preacher Jack Collins, along with many other Federal Governmental bad guys. Hack is the sheriff of a small border town in Texas and the story also winds through border/immigration politics and evangelical nutjobs who mix their horrible bibilical rhetoric with conservative politics and racism.

I don't want to spoil the story, but do want to encourage anyone who still might be reading this blog to check the book out. It was just masterful and superb. I went and picked up a few more of the early Burke Holland novels I haven't read yet immediately upon finishing this book, and can't wait to dive in. Also, the new Robicheaux novel drops in July.

James Lee Burke, may you live forever.

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