My review of James Lee Burke's House of the Rising Sun first appeared as a starred review in Shelf Awareness for Readers. I am posting it today with their permission. Hope you enjoy...boy this is a good one!
First line: "The sun had just crested on the horizon like a misplaced planet, swollen and molten and red, lighting a landscape that seemed sculpted out of clay and soft stone and marked by the fossilized tracks of animals with no names, when a tall barefoot man wearing little more than rags dropped his horse's reins and eased himself off the horse's back and worked his way down an embankment into a riverbed chained with pools of water that glimmered as brightly as blood in the sunrise."
Whether modern day Louisiana or early twentieth century Texas, the worlds James Lee Burke (Wayfaring Stranger) creates crackle on his pages. The vivid sights, sounds and smells envelope readers experiencing the tormented lives of his troubled characters. House of the Rising Sun continues that exemplary standard for fiction with a captivating tale of family, faith, betrayal and redemption.
In this forth book of Hackberry Holland's story, the former Texas Ranger is searching for his estranged son, Ishmael, in Mexico when he wanders into the middle of an arms deal. Hack destroys the munitions but discovers a gem encrusted "cup" among the arsenal, which he tucks away and carries back to Texas.
Powerful businessman Arnold Beckman believes the artifact is rightfully his and will stop at nothing to take it back, including kidnapping war hero Ishmael who is recovering from serious leg injuries sustained at the Battle of Marne. Hack must fight his personal demons and outsmart the deadly Beckman in order to save his son.
Brimming with delectably evil villains and heroes whose white hats have grown dingy from the dirt they've rolled in, House of the Rising Sun is a masterstroke in Burke's exceptional body of work. He balances the characters' introspection with suspenseful action, keeping the momentum of the novel quick and engaging; packs insightful thoughts on humanity into colorful quips; and, despite the bleakness of the plot, interjects hilarious scenes like Hack learning to drive a motorcar.
Everyone should experience the beauty of James Lee Burke's fiction at least once. House of the Rising Sun is a perfect opportunity to do so.
House of the Rising Sun is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9780062319197) from Simon & Schuster and as an unabridged audio (ISBN: 9781442385702), narrated by Will Patton, from Simon & Schuster Audio.