I changed things up a bit for this particular topic. There are many, many authors I enjoy reading, but I have a handful of favorites. These are the authors I impatiently wait for, they're the ones I continually re-read and the ones I'm always telling other readers about. A few of them are well known traditionally published authors and a couple of them are popular indie writers. The latter two answer questions for me all the time - they're so lucky to have me around to annoy them - and I can think of a few things I'd like to ask the others. I wrote about five of these authors in a post called My Top Five Books and Why back in June of this year. So far, that's been one of the most fun posts to write. Man, I love great books - and the authors that create them.
I've decided to write about James Lee Burke for this post. The reason behind that is because I've read the most of his books. Of the thirty-seven novels he's published, I've read twenty-nine. (I just picked up his latest, so that number will soon rise.) I believe I was in my mid-twenties when I discovered him, and I've been a fan ever since.
James Lee Burke books are not happy ones. Not really. There are happy things in them, but if you expect a sweet fairy tale where all the loose ends are tied up with a pretty little bow at the end, JLB probably isn't the author you're looking for. The stories within his books are raw and unpredictable. His characters are deeply flawed - even the good guys. Okay, maybe even especially the good guys, and they have a tendency to break your heart a little as you read them.
Twenty of the books I've read belong within JLB's Dave Robicheaux series. Dave is a detective with the New Iberia Parish Police Department in Louisiana. Talk about flawed - but I love this character ... for reasons I can't even explain.
In 2012, JLB released Creole Belle, and I was almost certain I'd lost Dave forever. It's my belief that he wanted to kill this character off - after all, Dave is getting up there in years, and this was the nineteenth book in the series. I'm guessing maybe both the author and the character are starting to feel like this story is coming to a close. The end of that book devastated me. I remember flipping through the last couple of pages - not to read the ending, but in disbelief that there were so few of them remaining. There was too much story left to tell, and clearly not enough pages in which to do it. I actually yelled "No!!!!" as I read the last few lines, and wasn't sure what to do with myself once I'd closed the book.
You can imagine how happy I was when I found out another book in the series was to be released the following year. Dave made it! He's still alive! The day I bought that book was a happy one indeed.
Until recently, I'd never read another author that writes quite like Burke does. He's magical. Even the most sordid details, the scariest circumstances, the telling of the most brutal acts are almost poetic. His writing is lyrical; descriptive and honest. I'd go so far as to say his writing style is addictive. No matter how lengthy his books are, they are never long enough.
It's not just the Robicheaux novels that I love. There's one about the Civil War, another one with Bonnie and Clyde, and a whole slew of short story collections and another series that takes place in both Texas and Montana. He's released two novels in his Holland Family saga since the last Robicheaux novel - one of them just two weeks ago - and every single one of them is outstanding.
There are so many questions I'd like to ask James Lee Burke. Like I mentioned, I've read twenty-nine of his novels, so at least a dozen inquiries are buzzing around my brain right now.
I'll be honest with you, though ... the one question I most want the answer to is, "Where the hell is Dave?"