James Lee Burke Books

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James Lee Burke, the winner of two Edgar awards, is an American author of the mystery genre.

Having written both the novels and the short stories, Burke is predominantly recognized for his Dave Robicheaux series. Writing prolifically on it, Burke produced 20 novels across the span of 26 years.

Order of Dave Robicheaux Series

1The Neon Rain 1987Description / Buy
2Heaven's Prisoners 1988Description / Buy
3Black Cherry Blues 1989Description / Buy
4A Morning for Flamingos 1990Description / Buy
5A Stained White Radiance 1992Description / Buy
6In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead 1993Description / Buy
7Dixie City Jam 1994Description / Buy
8Burning Angel 1995Description / Buy
9Cadillac Jukebox 1996Description / Buy
10Sunset Limited 1996Description / Buy
11Purple Cane Road 2000Description / Buy
12Jolie Blon's Bounce 2002Description / Buy
13Last Car to Elysian Fields 2003Description / Buy
14Crusader's Cross 2005Description / Buy
15Pegasus Descending 2006Description / Buy
16The Tin Roof Blowdown 2007Description / Buy
17Swan Peak 2008Description / Buy
18The Glass Rainbow 2010Description / Buy
19Creole Belle 2012Description / Buy
20Light of the World 2013Description / Buy
21Robicheaux 2018Description / Buy
22The New Iberia Blues 2019Description / Buy
23A Private Cathedral 2020Description / Buy

Order of Hackberry Holland Series

1Lay Down My Sword and Shield 1971Description / Buy
2Rain Gods 2009Description / Buy
3Feast Day of Fools 2011Description / Buy
4Another Kind of Eden 2021Description / Buy

Order of Billy Bob Holland Series

1Cimarron Rose 1997Description / Buy
2Heartwood 1999Description / Buy
3Bitterroot 2001Description / Buy
4In the Moon of Red Ponies 2004Description / Buy

Order of Weldon Holland Series

1Wayfaring Stranger 2014Description / Buy
2House of the Rising Sun 2015Description / Buy
3The Jealous Kind 2016Description / Buy

Order of James Lee Burke Standalone Novels

1Half of Paradise 1965Description / Buy
2To the Bright and Shining Sun 1970Description / Buy
3Two for Texas 1982Description / Buy
4The Lost Get-Back Boogie 1986Description / Buy
5White Doves at Morning 2002Description / Buy

Order of James Lee Burke Short Stories/Novellas

1Texas City, 1947 (Short Story) 1992Description / Buy

Order of James Lee Burke Short Story Collections

1The Convict and the Other Stories 1985Description / Buy
2Jesus Out to Sea 2007Description / Buy

James Lee Burke Anthologies

1 The Best American Mystery Stories 20082008Description / Buy
2 Delta Blues2009Description / Buy
3 The Best American Mystery Stories 20092009Description / Buy
4 Books to Die For2012Description / Buy
5 The Best American Mystery Stories 20142014Description / Buy
6 The Best American Mystery Stories 20182018Description / Buy
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James Lee Burke Awards

One of the highest honors a mystery writer could hope to achieve is the Edgar Allan Poe Award. Burke has won 2 of these, the first one for his novel ‘Black Cherry Blues’ (number 3 in Dave Robicheaux series), and the second Edgar Award for ‘Cimarron Rose’ from the Billy Bob Holland series.

Also, Burke is the Grand Master Award laureate, as the Mystery Writers of America recognized his lifetime achievement in producing quality pages of mystery novels. This is the highest honor that the Mystery Writers of America bestows and has been awarded to legends like Agatha Christie, Elmore Leonard and Stephen King. Since 2009 this award has been given to one or two people each year and Burke was able to share this honor with Sue Grafton.

James Lee Burke Books Into Movies/TV:

So far, we have seen two screenings of Burke’s novels. Both of these portray his favorite hero, Dave Robicheaux. The first novel that was turned into the eponymous movie was ‘Heaven’s Prisoners’, starring Alec Baldwin as a hardened, if somewhat problematic Vietnam vet Dave Robicheaux. The movie was filmed in 1996, 8 years after the novel had first been published. The second screening sees Tommy Lee Jones in the main role. The movie which was called ‘In The Electric Mist’ was a sequel to the first one, and was an adaptation of Burke’s 6th Dave Robicheaux novel fully titled ‘In The Electric Mist With Confederate Dead’.

Best James Lee Burke Books

Any list of Burke’s best novels has to be dominated by those from the Dave Robicheaux series, but the Award-winning book from his other, Billy Bob Holland series, ought to be credited as well.

Heaven’s Prisoners:, the second novel from Burke’s best loved series, paints the portrait of one Dave Robicheaux, a highly depressed war veteran and a recovering alcoholic, who finally gives his sheriff deputy badge and goes on a much deserved retirement. He is thinking that, now that he is retired, he can leave all the troublesome events in the past but alas, trouble finds him again. As he is fishing with his wife Annie, he witnesses a sudden plane crash, a crash that would alter his live forever. And as for Annie, it would end hers. Upon investigating the crash, Dave got the unwanted attention of a criminal boss who wants Dave dead, but instead kills his wife. This event sets the stage for a whirlwind of violence, as Dave discovers that fighting the demons of the past is a duel that is nigh impossible to win.

Black Cherry Blues: is the third book in the Dave Robicheaux series. This time Dave, still haunted by the memory of his beloved wife’s untimely death, faces the prospects of losing yet another woman he fondly loves, his daughter Alafair. When an old friend reenters Dave’s life, little did he know that he is about to commence on yet another violent episode.

Things get even more complicated when Dave, unwilling to be thrown back in his old world, tries to help his friend by going to the police. But not only did he not help his friend, he also did a disservice to himself. By a certain cunning ploy, Dave is now the one accused of murder, and has to go out and face those who want him behind bars, and clear his name in the process. ‘Black Cherry Blues’ yielded Burke his first Edgar Award.

Another book that counts among the Burke’s best is Cimarron Rose. The novel marked the beginning of the Billy Bob Holland series, a series about eponymous former Texas Ranger and an attorney. When a young man by the name of Lucas gets charged with murder, Billy’s world gets turned upside down. Apparently no connection between Billy and the boy, Lucas turns out to be his illegitimate son, and now Billy is the one who has to defend him in the court of law. How far is he willing to go in order to save his son? When asked of him, how much is he willing to sacrifice?

James Lee Burke FAQ

Q: Where is James Lee Burke from?

A: Burke was born in Houston Texas, but his family later moved and he grew up mostly in the Texas-Mississippi gulf coast area. He would later go to University of Louisiana at Lafayette before moving on to the University of Missouri.

Burke now lives in Lolo, Montana with his wife Pearl. The couple have four children including Alafair Burke who is also a successful crime writer having written books such as The Cinderella Murder and All Dressed In White. In a nice bit of serendipity, the younger Burke was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Novel in 2017 for her book, The Ex.

Q: What were James Lee Burke’s early days of writing like?

A: Burke is somewhat famous for the sheer amount of jobs he held as he was an up and coming writer. Burke’s jobs ranged from social worker to newspaper reporter to professor to truck driver for the US Forest Service. He would teach at five different colleges, even getting on the tenure track for creative writing at Wichita State University during the 1980s. One of the more interesting jobs that Burke held was as a social worker at the infamous Skid Row in Los Angeles, California.

When Does The Next James Lee Burke book come out?

James Lee Burke doesn't seem to have an upcoming book. Their newest book is Another Kind of Eden and was released on August, 17th 2021. It is the newest book in the Hackberry Holland Series.


1 thought on “James Lee Burke”

  1. I’m a fan of the Dave Robicheaux series, but haven’t read much else by James Lee Burke. Any suggestions as to where to start? I enjoyed the Robicheaux series not so much for the characters, but more so for the amazing writing skills by Burke. He’s able to turn the city of New Orleans into its own character. I’m a huge NOLA fan, so that’s probably why I enjoyed this series too. Looking forward to checking out more books by Burke.

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