Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review: House of the Rising Sun: A Novel (A Holland Family Novel) by James Lee Burke

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Dec 1 2015)
  • Sold by: Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00V3L92DG

Book Description

 New York Times bestseller James Lee Burke returns with his latest masterpiece, the story of a father and son separated by war and circumstance-and whose encounter with the legendary Holy Grail will change their lives forever.

From its opening scene in revolutionary Mexico to the Battle of the Marne in 1918, and on to the bordellos and saloons of San Antonio during the reign of the Hole in the Wall Gang, House of the Rising Sun is an epic tale of love, loss, betrayal, vengeance and retribution that follows Texas Ranger Hackberry Holland on his journey to reunite with his estranged son, Ishmael, a captain in the United States Army.

After a violent encounter that leaves four Mexican soldiers dead, Hackberry escapes the country in possession of a stolen artifact, earning the ire of a bloodthirsty Austrian arms dealer who then places Hack’s son Ishmael squarely in the cross hairs of a plot to recapture his prize, believed to be the mythic cup of Christ.

Along the way, we meet three extraordinary women: Ruby Dansen, the Danish immigrant who is Ishmael’s mother and Hackberry’s one true love; Beatrice DeMolay, a brothel madam descended from the crusader knight who brought the shroud of Turin back from the Holy Land; and Maggie Bassett, one-time lover of the Sundance Kid, whose wiles rival those of Lady Macbeth. In her own way, each woman will aid Hackberry in his quest to reconcile with Ishmael, to vanquish their enemies, and to return the Grail to its rightful place.

House of the Rising Sun is James Lee Burke’s finest novel to date, and a thrilling entry into the Holland family saga that continued most recently with Wayfaring Stranger, which the New York Times Book Review described as “saturated with the romance of the past while mournfully attuned to the unholy menace of the present.”

About the Author

 James Lee Burke is an American author best known for his mysteries, particularly the Dave Robicheaux series. He has twice received the Edgar Award for Best Novel, for Black Cherry Blues in 1990 and Cimarron Rose in 1998.

Burke was born in Houston, Texas, but grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. He attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of Missouri, receiving a BA and MA from the latter. He has worked at a wide variety of jobs over the years, including working in the oil industry, as a reporter, and as a social worker. He was Writer in Residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, succeeding his good friend and posthumous Pulitzer Prize winner John Kennedy Toole, and preceding Ernest Gaines in the position. Shortly before his move to Montana, he taught for several years in the Creative Writing program at Wichita State University in the 1980s.

Burke and his wife, Pearl, split their time between Lolo, Montana, and New Iberia, Louisiana. Their daughter, Alafair Burke, is also a mystery novelist.

The book that has influenced his life the most is the 1929 family tragedy "The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner.

My Review

House of the Rising Sun is a Holland Family novel by author James Lee Burke. I have read most of James Lee Burke's novels and short stories and consider him to be America's greatest living author.

Now why would I say that James Lee Burke is America's greatest living author? There are several reasons. He is an amazing storyteller. His stories capture your attention immediately. His characters are multi-dimensional. His heroes are flawed. And his villains are evil to the core. James Lee Burke has seen evil in people...I know that he has because I have as well. He writes fascinating men but his women are equally fascinating and strong as can be. And most importantly, there is his lyrical writing style. His words speak volumes. I don't think anyone else can capture the harshness and the beauty of this world the way in which he does. His writing is magical and mesmerizing. It is a pleasure to read one of his books. House of the Rising Sun is a feast of fabulousness. His thought provoking words pull at my heartstrings and stir up my imagination.

House of the Rising Sun is a fascinating book about the end of the wild west and the beginning of the new century. His villains never disappoint..this time it is an Austrian arms dealer..evil, ageless and heartless. Pure evil. Three strong women feature prominently in this tale: Ruby, Maggie and Beatrice...all strong pivotal characters in the legendary Hackberry Holland's life. Hackberry's son Ismael is estranged from him and we empathize with Hack as he tries to set things right with his son. There is no strong tie than that between a parent and a child.

At the center of this tale is the legendary Holy Grail. A chalice that men will die for. I enjoyed how the chalice is interwoven into the story. The biblical overtones that are there if you open your mind. The Father and the Son. Redemption. Good and evil. Good always prevails. Believe.

Brilliant story from an amazing storyteller. Definitely read House of the Rising Sun but do yourself a favor and read every James Lee Burke novel you can get your hands on. Let the beautiful prose of James Lee Burke caress your soul.

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