James Lee Burke Books

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 Billy Bob Holland Series

# Read Title Published
1 Cimarron Rose 1997
2 Heartwood 1999
3 Bitterroot 2001
4 In the Moon of Red Ponies 2004

Order of Dave Robicheaux Series

Order of Hackberry Holland Series

# Read Title Published
1 Lay Down My Sword and Shield 1971
2 Rain Gods 2009
3 Feast Day of Fools 2011
4 House of the Rising Sun 2015

Order of Holland Family Series

# Read Title Published
1 Wayfaring Stranger 2014
2 The Jealous Kind 2016

Order of James Lee Burke Anthologies

# Read Title Published
1 The Convict and the Other Stories 1985
2 Jesus Out to Sea 2007

Order of James Lee Burke Standalone Novels


# Read Title Published
1 The Best American Mystery Stories 2008 2008
2 Delta Blues 2009
Print: Print PDF

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.

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?