So, last week, we began our new blog feature, Simon Recommends (set to run until Christmas). Sian recommended The Spellman Files — a quirky, smart and sharp detective series about Isabel Spellman and her crazy, Private Investigator family.
This week, we have something totally different in store! Brendan, Executive Assistant and Cowboy extraordinaire is recommending James Lee Burke’s Rain Gods. Check it out!
I couldn’t tell you where my fascination with the dust and desert of the South comes from, considering I’ve been happily born and raised in the Great White North. But there’s something about the way of life that James Lee Burke paints in his books that makes me want to drop everything and head off towards the horizon in the hopes that I’ll stumble on some adventure. But until Toronto increases its saloon population and my Back to the Future-esque pipedream comes to pass, I’ll have to content myself with escaping into works like Rain Gods.
James Lee Burke has a ton of novels out there, and you can’t go wrong picking any one of them. But before you get too far into his bibliography, make sure you get to meet Sheriff Hackberry Holland. He’s tough as nails, no doubt, but that alone doesn’t do it justice – everything in this story feels familiar and grips you right away, but the people and places are never just stereotypes ripped out of a cheap Western. With everything in Burke’s books, there’s history and complexity behind everything and everyone.
What makes this book so impressive is that in Burke’s writing there’s allegory and philosophy, grace and force. But, even better than that, there are guns, horses, and a whole cast of dirtbags and good people to keep things rolling. The book is a seriously fun ride, and I can’t think of many better villains (is that the right word for him, I wonder?) than Preacher Jack Collins. Best part is, there’s more to come: I have the sequel, Feast Day of Fools, in my bag right now. Like the land he’s writing about, Lee Burke’s stories just seem to keep rolling on, expanding and getting more impressive with every step forward. So until I get an answer back about installing hitching posts at the office, I’ll be clinging to these books and riding with them wherever they take me.