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Sheriff Hackberry Holland patrols a small Southwest Texas border town with a deep and abiding respect for the citizens in his care. Still mourning the loss of his cherished wife and locked in a perilous almost-romance with his deputy, Pam Tibbs, a woman many decades his junior, Hackberry feeds off the deeds of evil men to keep his own demons at bay.
When alcoholic ex-boxer Danny Boy Lorca witnesses a man tortured to death in the desert and reports it, Hack's investigation leads to the home of Anton Ling, a regal, mysterious Chinese woman whom the locals refer to as La Magdalena and who is known for sheltering illegals. Ling denies having seen the victim or the perpetrators, but there is something in her steely demeanor and aristocratic beauty that compels Hackberry to return to her home again and again as the investigation unfolds. Could it be that the sheriff is so taken in by this creature who reminds him of his deceased wife that he would ignore the possibility that she is just as dangerous as the men she harbors?
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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 ConnellyAbout the Author:
James Lee Burke, named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, is the author of twenty-nine previous novels and two collections of short stories. He lives in Missoula, Montana.
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Book Description Large Print Press, 2012. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M159413541X