Books by James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke was born in Houston, Texas, in 1936 and grew up on the Texas-Louisiana gulf coast. He attended Southwestern Louisiana Institute and later received a B. A. Degree in English and an M. A. from the University of Missouri in 1958 and 1960 resp


LIGHT OF THE WORLD by James Lee Burke
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 23, 2013

"Pruning away the florid subplots that often clutter his heaven-storming blood baths, Burke produces his most sharply focused, and perhaps his most harrowing, study of human evil, refracted through the conventions of the crime novel."
Dave Robicheaux's latest Montana vacation is beset by demons old and new. Read full book review >
CREOLE BELLE by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: July 17, 2012

"As if all the complications aren't enough, Burke, in his latest attempt to outdo himself, ties the Gulf oil spill to art fraud, sexual slavery and Nazis. A darkly magnificent treat for Dave's legion of admirers, though not the best place for newcomers to begin."
Great news for readers who feared that Burke had left Iberia Parish Sheriff's Deputy Dave Robicheaux dying at the end of The Glass Rainbow (2010); Dave and his old friend Clete Purcel are back for an even more heaven-storming round of homicide, New Orleans-style. Read full book review >
FEAST DAY OF FOOLS by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Sept. 27, 2011

Hackberry Holland's third appearance, and Burke's 30th, brings back sociopathic killer Preacher Jack Collins (Rain Gods, 2009, etc.), but this time surrounds him with so many seriously bad guys that he can scarcely get the sheriff to take his phone calls. Read full book review >
THE GLASS RAINBOW by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: July 13, 2010

"Burke, whose sonorous cadences and obsession with the past have often recalled Faulkner, has never resembled the sage of Yoknapatawpha more closely than in this magnificent attempt to get it all down between one cap and one period. "
A gruesome series of murders drags Dave Robicheaux, of the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Department, out of his jurisdiction and onto the track of another harrowing cluster of high crimes and misdemeanors. Read full book review >
RAIN GODS by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: July 1, 2009

"Nearly every scene builds to a fine crescendo of tension, though the story as a whole is too ritualistic to do the same."
The murder of nine Thai prostitutes in a border town kicks off fireworks for a Texas cousin of Billy Bob Holland, who left plenty of violent miscreants behind when he retired to Montana (In the Moon of Red Ponies, 2004, etc.). Read full book review >
SWAN PEAK by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: July 8, 2008

"Like all Dave's adventures, a tale of violent conflict whose deepest violence boils inside the heroes."
On leave from his job as sheriff's deputy in New Iberia, La., Dave Robicheaux learns that people in Montana's Big Sky country are as swaggering and venal as anyone in the Big Easy. Read full book review >
THE TIN ROOF BLOWDOWN by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: July 17, 2007

"Apart from the operatically scaled evocation of the hurricane, a shattering portrait Burke was born to create, the most striking creation here is Bertrand Melancon, a lost soul who can't decide whether he's an avenger or a penitent."
A looting and shooting at the height of Hurricane Katrina's destruction sucks Dave Robicheaux (Pegasus Descending, 2006, etc.) into New Orleans's purgatorial ordeal. Read full book review >
JESUS OUT TO SEA by James Lee Burke
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 5, 2007

"If some of the endings are rushed or unconvincing or just plain AWOL, that's because Burke understands that conflicts like these, even spun out to novel length, never truly end."
Eleven violent, heartfelt slices of life among the underdogs of the Louisiana bayous and Texas plains from acclaimed mystery novelist Burke (Pegasus Descending, 2006, etc.). Read full book review >
PEGASUS DESCENDING by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: July 11, 2006

"As usual, fans of this distinguished series will have a lot more sympathy for Dave (Crusader's Cross, 2005, etc.) than he can muster for himself."
Twenty-five years after he failed to save a buddy's life in Opa-Locka, Fla., New Iberia Sheriff's Deputy Dave Robicheaux's own life is upended still again when the buddy's daughter blows into town. Read full book review >
CRUSADER’S CROSS by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: July 12, 2005

"The result—a mixture as explosive as any in Dave's checkered history, yet clearer in its outlines and miraculously free of fustian—is Burke's best book in years."
Hints about the fate of a warmhearted prostitute who vanished long ago plunge Dave Robicheaux into violence, revenge, betrayal and serial murder. Read full book review >
IN THE MOON OF RED PONIES by James Lee Burke
THRILLERS
Released: June 8, 2004

"Required reading for anybody who wonders whether mystery plotting has a future in mainstream fiction."
Wyatt Dixon, the psycho Billy Bob Holland put away forever in Bitterroot (2001), is back—but he's the least of Billy Bob's troubles this time. Read full book review >
LAST CAR TO ELYSIAN FIELDS by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Sept. 23, 2003

"Give yourself a star if this all sounds awfully familiar, and another if you can remember who killed whom ten minutes after Burke's last glowing page."
New Iberia homicide detective Dave Robicheaux (Jolie Blon's Bounce, 2002, etc.) battles—what else?—strutting criminals, willing women, long-buried crimes, and his own most violent impulses. Read full book review >
WHITE DOVES AT MORNING by James Lee Burke
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 1, 2002

"Shorn of any mystery but the mystery of evil, this roiling, deeply old-fashioned tale is less successful as a stand-alone revisiting of The Clansman and Gone With the Wind than as a kind of all-purpose backstory—or, more accurately, a prototype—of the Robicheaux saga."
Think the rumbustious Dave Robicheaux novels (Jolie Blon's Bounce, p. 437, etc.) have so little mystery that they could dispense with the mystery formula altogether? Here's a test case: a Civil War/Reconstruction yarn that's also a fictionalized family history. Read full book review >
JOLIE BLON’S BOUNCE by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: June 10, 2002

"The volcanic types Dave's saga (Purple Cane Road, 2000, etc.) has made familiar are muffled this time out, and the plotting is even more darkly tangled than usual. Yet Burke succeeds over and over again in writing harshly lacerating scenes nobody's ever written before—not even him."
The rape and murder of a high school girl opens still another doorway back into the doomy past of Dave Robicheaux's New Iberia Parish. Read full book review >
BITTERROOT by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: June 1, 2001

"There can't be much suspense when everybody in Missoula County wants to kill everybody else. Instead, Burke provides another chapter of the kind of scorched-earth moral warfare that never ends."
Billy Bob Holland (Heartwood, 1999, etc.) leaves his Texas law practice behind for a fishing trip with his old friend Dr. Tobin Voss in Montana—forgetting that Burke's troubled heroes can't travel far enough to leave trouble behind. Read full book review >
PURPLE CANE ROAD by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 15, 2000

"Though the links among felonies can be insultingly casual, and the mystery is no more mysterious than a ritual sacrifice, Burke's powerfully evoked world shows why the past, as Faulkner said, not only isn't dead; it isn't even past."
Another round of violence in New Iberia Parish leads sheriff's investigator Dave Robicheaux (Sunset Limited, 1998, etc.) to reopen the darkest mystery he's ever faced: the murder of his mother. Read full book review >
HEARTWOOD by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 1, 1999

A second rangy Texas crime opera (Cimarron Rose, 1997) from the Edgar-winning chronicler of bayou detective Dave Robicheaux. Read full book review >

SUNSET LIMITED by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: June 1, 1998

After Burke's Texas sabbatical in Cimarron Rose (1997), it's back to the bayous with Dave Robicheaux, struggling as usual to right an old injustice while balancing the weight of the world on his back. Read full book review >

CIMARRON ROSE by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 1, 1997

"Even the ragged ends make other mystery novels look anemic."
You can take Burke out of Louisiana's Iberia Parish (Cadillac Jukebox, 1996, etc.), but you can't take Iberia out of Burke, as this tangled tale of Texas murder and memory makes wondrously clear. Read full book review >
CADILLAC JUKEBOX by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 1, 1996

"Only Walter Mosley rivals Burke's ability to burrow so deeply into his detective's world that he creates a compelling sense of personal mythology."
Twenty-eight years after NAACP stalwart Ely Dixon was killed, KKK alumnus Aaron Crown's finally convicted of his murder—and that's just the beginning of the trouble in Dave Robicheaux's Iberia Parish (Burning Angel, 1995, etc.). Read full book review >
BURNING ANGEL by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 1, 1995

Burke's last several novels have shown a deepening fascination with the weight of past history; here, in his ninth Dave Robicheaux adventure (Dixie City Jam, 1994, etc.), a treasure buried by Jean Lafitte joins a telltale set of Vietnam-era dog tags to drag his characters down. Read full book review >

DIXIE CITY JAM by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 4, 1994

A Nazi U-boat sunk 50 years ago off the Louisiana coast is the catalyst for New Iberia (La.) sheriff's deputy Dave Robicheaux's latest descent into the depths of human nature. Read full book review >
IN THE ELECTRIC MIST WITH CONFEDERATE DEAD by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 15, 1993

"After outstanding success in the genre, Burke has produced a violent, somber, deeply satisfying crossover novel."
New Iberia Lt. Read full book review >
A STAINED WHITE RADIANCE by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 1, 1992

"This series keeps getting stronger and stronger."
Another dark rhapsody on Burke's favorite themes—power and vengeance, organized crime, maverick Louisiana lawmen, and nightmares from Vietnam—all pulled together more tightly than ever by the Sonnier family, threatened by somebody (oilman brother Weldon's mob contacts? televangelist brother Lyle's stray sheep? sister Drew's old political enemies? brother-in-law Bobby Earl's followers in the Aryan Nation? hateful paterfamilias Verise, long presumed dead in a tanker explosion?) who first shoots out Weldon's window and then executes a cop in the family basement. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 29, 1990

"Another robust study of powerfully shifting motives disguised as an action yarn—thick and strong as southern gumbo."
Fresh from his Edgar-winning Black Cherry Blues, Cajun policeman-avenger Dave Robicheaux goes after an escaped murderer and finds himself taking DEA money as the bagman in a cocaine sting, The murderer is Jimmie Lee Boggs, whose escape from custody left Dave's partner dead and Dave wounded, but alive, only because fellow-escapee Tee Beau Latolais just pretended to pull the trigger. Read full book review >
BLACK CHERRY BLUES by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Sept. 13, 1989

"Though his prose is as overmuscled as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Burke tells an evocative and compelling story of a good man's struggle With the vigilante inside him."
Case #3 for alcoholic Cajun ex-cop Dave Robicheaux (The Neon Rain, Heaven's Prisoners) sends him and his adoptive daughter Alafair to Montana on a quest for the usual justice and revenge. Read full book review >
HEAVEN'S PRISONERS by James Lee Burke
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 1, 1988

"This talented writer could use a third-person narrator to keep the humorless Robicheaux in his place."
The second of Burke's hot-sauce suspensers featuring Dave Robicheaux, protagonist of The Neon Rain (1987); this one is less frantic, more rooted in a specific (Cajun) culture. Read full book review >
THE NEON RAIN by James Lee Burke
Released: March 27, 1987

"But while there is much garish overwriting here, there are also some fine scenes that fairly crackle with menace."
A New Orleans homicide cop confronts arms-smugglers, the Mafia and his own private demons in this bloody, ripsnorting suspenser, the latest offering from Burke (The Convict, The Lost Get-Back Boogie). Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 21, 1986

"Lots of true grit and a little tenderness combine to make this an absorbing tale of modern life on the range."
Bulging with virile prose, this good-hearted novel grabs you by the collar, roughs you up a bit, then buys you a drink afterwards. Read full book review >
THE CONVICT by James Lee Burke
Released: Nov. 24, 1985

"But on the whole, Burke, who has mostly published novels heretofore, seems message-heavy and schematic at shorter length."
Burke's stories frequently set up situations for good to conquer evil, for the disadvantaged to prove themselves more alive than the advantaged, for the wronged to take revenge—there's an old-fashioned Southern liberalism to them that seems morally worthy but artistically hollow. Read full book review >
LAY DOWN MY SWORD AND SHIELD by James Lee Burke
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 18, 1971

"At the close he joins the ACLU and tends his horses."
A two-fisted-pants-hitching-cookie-cutter-day-dream for liberals who wince at being "so-called" — this is the story of Texan Hack Holland, a Korean war veteran and lawyer with natural gas on his old-family property and problems. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1970

"One wishes he had done so earlier."
This is an updated down home tale that is as messy as the mines where its characters suffer. Read full book review >
HALF OF PARADISE by James Lee Burke
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 15, 1965

"A drear perspective, and yet, in its absence of sensationalism, its compassion and simplicity, this initial effort merits some attention."
These days magnolias mean misery, and there is plenty of Southern anguish in this first novel, which, nevertheless, carries an honest message, crisply understated and freshly slanted. Read full book review >
FLEE SEVEN WAYS by James Lee Burke
Released: Sept. 24, 1864

"A con-vincing job."
In this first novel, a small-time crook, Harry Sprockett, describes his own rise and fall with insidious charm. Read full book review >