Starting A New Life As The Sheriff Of A Dried Out, Broken Down Border Town In South Texas, Hackberry Holland Is Drawn Into A Murder Investigation When Nine Dead Prostitutes Are Dug Up In The Desert, Forcing Him To Focus On Something Other Than His Own Demons


10 thoughts on “Rain Gods

  1. says:

    The first of this Hackberry Holland trilogy Lay Down My Sword and Shield was released in 1971, it then took James Lee Burke 38 years to pen this sequel and fuck me was it worth the wait, 38 years of wisdom and experience have gone into these characters and it shows.Not for me of course because I m lucky enough to read all three books one after the other, the first lay Hackberry Holland s soul open for all to see and you don t see characters laid as bare as this very often In the first story Hack was an often infuriating man, took liberties with everyone around him and pretty much did everything his own way with no respect or recompense, just a long trip down Jack Daniels Way.In Rain Gods, time has moved on for everyone, Hack no longer a lawyer is on a different angle of the law, he s now a small town Texas Sherriff and an old man, somewhere in his fifties I guestimate because his wife is now dead, his kids up and away and Hack just has his role as a law enforcement officer and his horses to occupy him If that wasn t enough he finds himself caught up in the disturbing consequences of the massacre of 9 Thai women, illegal aliens used for drug trafficking The search for justice pits Holland against drug dealers, pimps and one particularly psychopathic man who hastens death to those that are looking for it and some that aren t.Whereas the first in the trilogy primarily concentrated on Hack, his history as a POW and his almost death wish philosophy Rain Gods opens up on a lot characters, everyone of them flawed in some way, striving for redemption or just cold hard cash.This is where we meet one of the most memorable characters I ve ever encountered, Preacher Jack Collins is a gun for hire, a complicated man whose actions surprised and shocked me several times, the self styled left hand of God who spends a good portion of this book on crutches due to the fact a woman he was supposed to kill, bettered him and shot him in the foot An unpredictable man who seems to find an edge in every conversation and this for me was the most compelling part of the story, the dialogue is absolutely riveting at times, Tom Stechschulte the narrator did a fantastic job and every conversation around the Preacher had a hint of danger to it And when Hack Holland meets Preacher Jack Collins, you re never quite sure which way it s going to go, especially when the Preacher carries a Thompson machine gun as his chosen method of a quick conclusion.It s not just a story full of Texan gangsters, there are several strong willed female characters that add to the story, Deputy Pam Tibbs being the most prevalent and it s almost a joy to listen to her attempts to ensnare the wily old Sherriff in places he just doesn t want to go.James Lee Burke creates an atmosphere perfect for the occasion, there s mention of the Alamo and tumbleweed amidst the carnage that is Rain Gods but this is a deep personnel story from both sides of the fence and I enjoyed it immensely In fact I m going to listen to the last one with thoughts of this going into my all time top 5, it is that good.Highly recommendedAlso posted at


  2. says:

    4.5 We decry violence all the time in this country, but look at our history We were born in a violent revolution, and we ve been in wars ever since We re not a pacific people James Lee BurkeFrom a goodreads review Fuck me Burke is such a goddamn badass If that language offends, you probably do not want to read these books In this one Hackberry is an aging sheriff with a bad back, nursing sobriety, and he s still a badass Plus, our author is an equal opportunity writer and his women are also badass Be very careful around them if they ve been in or near the kitchen The villains are as bad as it gets in the worst possible way We re talking Quentin Tarantino bad While Hackberry is confronting a slime ball named Ouzel that name he thought he could detect an odor that was reminiscent of a violated grave or the stench given off by an incinerator in which dead animals were burned Definitely skull and crossbones tattoo on their forehead bad.Burke s trademark prose sings out like a siren song reeling you in It s like he s serenading you with poetry If he was away at the ranch without you and you called and asked Then what happened Jimmy he d say something like Then the sun broke above the crest of the hills and the entire countryside looked soaked in blood, the arroyos deep in shadow, the cones of dead volcanoes stark and biscuit colored against the sky I could smell the pinion trees, wet sea, woodsmoke, cattle in the pastures, and creek water that had melted from the snow I could smell the way the country probably was when it was only a dream in the mind of God Jesus Out to Sea.Any other author would have a hard time having his way with me in this dark matter even if I m drinking a badass Zinfandel It s really hard to describe the fascination and appreciation if you ve never read his books It s complicated Read one and you ll discover your own badassness There are multiple Holland Family stories which I m reading out of order and it matters not Bartender, bring me the bottle and a club soda with lime for the sheriff here Then I just might be ready to go get my first tattoo, one for each of his books I read Grownup badass girl scout badges But not on my forehead.


  3. says:

    Question to Self Self,how did you overlook Burke all of these years Answer I have no clue, but now that I found him, I want to read ALL of his books Great storyline character development


  4. says:

    I m beset with the voices of Gods, literary and atavistic, screaming at me about why I should or should not care about Burke and his Rain Gods or Burke and anything else he ever wrote I m devoted to the guy, but at the same time my literary eye my English teacher eye What s that worth sees right through him Sees through his repeated characters and their repeated motifs There s always the recovered recovering alcoholic, the endless descriptions of landscape and weather somehow tied to the moral implications of action and plot, the passages of scripture and philosophy from young, old, literate and ill , also tied to the moral implications of action and plot Isn t this a bit like Barbara Cartland Note here perhaps the most grotesque book cover photo in history They guy s really not much older than I am, and he s not Alfred E Neumann, so why do this except that he s already sold all the books he needs and doesn t care I wouldn t either No, not really, no bodice ripping here, I protest But what s the difference Deeper I guess And why isn t it just Louis L Amour Well, I like him, too, so is it just a guy thing No, for all his repetition, James Lee is deeper than Louis L Amour s good vs evil isn t as profound as Burke s, stereotyped though James Lee s may be You ve got to dig into where your mother poisons you and you run through rattlers in a cave and come out the other side to scavenge in dumps with boots held together with duct tape to get through a Burke evil Louis never makes you do that I guess I could never defend either Louis or James Lee in a college seminar or a writing workshop, but I couldn t and wouldn t stop reading either one When s your next one, Louis I don t care if you re dead And that s what makes the literary and the human world human and makes us, as Whitman put it, or less, contradictions Then we contradict ourselves, for we contain multitudes.


  5. says:

    Not surprisingly, James Lee Burke can tell a good story If you like your violence with a literary twist, you ought to give him a try.I like Hackberry Holland and this prong of the story arc I thought the first book in this relatively compact sub series was the weakest, which probably means I prefer the aging, mature version of Hack To be fair, JLB rolled out Hackberry Holland years before he hit his stride with his primary vehicle, Dave Robicheaux, so another way to look at it is that I like the Hackberry Holland that JLB re introduces us to in this book nearly 40 years later, with than 15 Dave Robiceaux novels under his belt Which makes sense, because I enjoyed Dave Robicheaux in installment 20 than I did in installment one.An interesting blend of themes here many staples of the JLB library violence of the most pathological kind , alcohol and addiction , love always complicated, never simple , aging inexorable , error and sometimes redemption, human frailty, luck and misfortune, and service which rarely is without cost.I expect I ll continue chipping away at the mountain of JLB novels Which prong next Back to Dave Robicheaux Or should I give Billy Bob Holland a try


  6. says:

    This is one of the best of Burke s books, and that s saying a tremendous amount This man is the single best writer of thriller type novels, because they re so much than that His prose is elegant, and his plots all consuming I dare you to put one of his Dave Robicheaux or any of his others books down once you ve started them Unbelievably good.


  7. says:

    A dark, wearisome and depressing novelCrime novels come in all sorts of varieties and flavors At one extreme are the slapstick Evanovich Stephanie Plum books At the other end come moody and brooding novels like those that James Lee Burke produces I have read several of his books and I know that they are not fun loving romps, but the morose nature of this book takes the cake With the exception of two brief scenes Rain Gods A Novel was relentless in its brooding tone I found it wearisome Every male character is burdened with evil deeds, obsesses over them and then acts out in self destructive, often violent ways All of the female lead characters offer wisdom, strength and guidance There are literally than a dozen bad guys and it seems that this desert Texas countryside is full of nothing but broken people, hookers, alcoholics, criminals and a couple of cops Where are the regular people The book was just too much death, despair and regret for me.A wearisome and disappointing read.


  8. says:

    You re not your relatives right Just because I don t like Hack s coz Billy Bob doesn t mean I m right to exclude four books by the world s best mystery author.Hackberry Holland here I come Prove genetics wrong.


  9. says:

    Decided to start on Burke with a recent one This seems a summing up of lifetime of themes and disheartening portrait of America Like a home grown Le Carr or Greene, Burke uses a page turning thriller to capture the tenor of the times so accurately and artfully it will hold up as a historical novel And what an ugly face he gives America, a litany of the ills of this fading empire including human trafficking, drug mules, the scarcity of opportunities for emotional scarred veterans, Russian and Mexican Mafia, the drug war in Mexico killing people than Iraq, military contractors, Christianity hijacked by psychopaths and sociopaths for their own justification, and the enormous and growing gulf between rich and the poor This sounds like a bitter pill but for the beauty of his landscapes, lyrical prose, genius of his dialogue, and compassion for his characters This has been compared a lot to McCarthy s No Country for Old Men and the comparisons are noticeable old sheriff lost in thoughts, an enigmatic serial killer, same general geography, and they both update Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Robert Stone s Dog Soldiers But Burke s sheriff isn t an impotent conservative but a former ACLU lawyer, and we get to know Preacher Jack Collins a lot better than Chigurgh, and the rest of his baddies though Hugo and a demonic Russian mobster could have been explored Burke is a moralist not a nihilist but his work isn t as a lean and stripped down as McCarthy s work Burke brings a large talent and astounding breadth of knowledge to the crime genre Lots of food for thoughts from the characters being consumed by their past, the use of randomness and accidents in the plot not in an annoying way it seems thematic and why the Sheriff never seems to kill anyone but his partner does.


  10. says:

    James Lee Burke is an author whose canvass is paper as he paints stories with words While immense in the story one can visualize the settings and characters James Lee Burke s bad guys and gals are so bad that if you re deeply engrossed in the book and someone knocks on your door or rings your doorbell or you hear the floor squeaking above your head, you ll jump from fright The law enforcement who chases the bad guys gals is just as bad, and so is the staff they have to be to capture the monsters who create havoc in and around them Former attorney and war hero turned sheriff, Hackberry Holland, is after Preacher aka Jack Collins who is the badest of the bad, and who d make a forensic psychiatrist s wet his her pants to have the opportunity to try to get into his head In James Lee Burke s novels you learn how society help mold these individuals into the monsters they ve become by turning their heads and pretending they don t see the problem staring them square in the eyes In Rain Gods, we learn how those who ve served in wars, protecting that same society, are left to fend for themselves after serving their country and keeping these society members safe in their self made world of greed, jealously, and selfishness.James Lee Burke s stories are not for the faint of heart but if you re interested in being held captive by good storytelling you ll want to read Rain Gods.