James Lee Burke - Top Fiction Crime USA

Crime Writer Par Excellence

James Lee Burke - Best selling crime writer - one of the top fiction mystery authors - Gee – I feel I am repeating myself as I think I have said many of the same type of thing about a few of the authors I have included so far on this site – but blame the authors – for being so good!

No churned out pulp fiction or formulaic writing and contrived plots from this author of great mystery novels.

A writer of quietly exquisite prose – an almost an elegiac writing style – that breathes atmosphere from the very page and is so evocative of the place (the Louisiana bayous) you can feel it even if you haven’t been there.


Creole Belle is a resurrection story for the ages, with James Lee Burke at the peak of his masterful career and Dave Robicheaux facing his most intense and personal battle yet, against the known and unknown forces that corrupt and destroy even the best of men.



Up there with Harry Bosch and Matt Scudder, Burke’s Dave Robicheaux is a protagonist worth reading every book for. And, almost on an equal par is his other ‘hero’ Billy Bob Holland (Cimarron Rose; In the Moon of the Red Ponies).

The Robicheaux series began with the 1987’s “The Neon Rain” which signaled a standard of storytelling that has not only been maintained but matured like a fine wine.

A perfect example of what makes a good writer a great writer is his "RAIN GODS" - it is simply put a superb example of a writer still writing at the peak - a wordsmith par excellence.

You don't just get a good narrative with excellent characterization, but a deep joy in his command of the language - his wordcraft alone is worth the read.

It features Hack Holland, related to Billy Bob Holland and like the latter and Dave Robicheaux, a character with depth, interest and humanity that we all can relate to.

His books are at once pensive, delicately paced – as befits the South - and Burke finds the flaws in people; but flaws that are the mystery which enables them to succeed in their humanity as he writes of the confrontation of evil by ordinary folk, the juxtaposition of natural beauty and human violence, the poetic distillation of working class life in the American South.

As with Michael Connelly, and in the other great mystery novels mentioned here, Burke manages to hook you into the lives of his characters so that you are as keen to follow their lives as well as the unfolding stories themselves.

Robicheaux is no unrealistic superhero - but human, flawed, yet rising above his limitations. JLB depicts Robicheaux's relationships with realism and the gamut of emotions we all experience to some degree or another.

His books are the very best fiction books for the discerning book work who loves this genre.

Coming to writing success fairly late, JLB has been quite prolific

Dave Robicheaux novels:

      The Neon Rain (1987)
      Heaven’s Prisoners (1988)
      Black Cherry Blues (1989)
      A Morning for Flamingos (1990)
      A Stained White Radiance (1992)
      In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead (1993)
      Dixie City Jam (1994)
      Burning Angel (1995)
      Cadillac Jukebox (1996)
      Sunset Limited (1998)
      Purple Cane Road (2000)
      Jolie Blon’s Bounce (2002)
      Last Car to Elysian Fields (2003)
      Crusader’s Cross (2005)
      Pegasus Descending (2006)
      The Tin Roof Blowdown (2007)
      Swan Peak (2008)
      The Glass Rainbow (2010)
      Creole Belle

Read what I think about The Tin Roof BLOWDOWN on The Blog
You can add your own comments there too.

Billy Bob Holland series.

      Cimarron Rose (1997)
      Heartwood (1999)
      Bitterroot (2001)
      In the Moon of the Red Ponies (2004)

Featuring Hack Holland

    Lay Down My Sword and Shield (1971)
    Rain Gods (2009)
    Feast Of Fools (2011)
Others that would be worth reading.

Jesus Out to Sea (2007) – 11 short stories.

White Doves at Morning (2002) - historical novel -- an epic story of love, hate, and survival set against the tumultuous background of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

"The Lost Get-Back Boogie” (1986) – his first real success – but not a Robicheaux novel. Of it was written:

    “Burke demonstrates a rare ability to write an extraordinarily propulsive tale that borders on genre fiction without ever being less than literature." [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Check out Michael Connelly & Harry Bosch

Go to John Lescroart and Dismas Hardy

Go to Lawrence Block Urban Noir Master

Return from JLB to Main Page Crime Thrillers USA

Return from James Lee Burke to HOME Page

125 x 125