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

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

Order of Hackberry Holland Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 Lay Down My Sword and Shield 1971 Description / Buy
2 Rain Gods 2009 Description / Buy
3 Feast Day of Fools 2011 Description / Buy
4 Another Kind of Eden 2021 Description / Buy
5 Every Cloak Rolled in Blood 2022 Description / Buy

Order of Billy Bob Holland Series

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

Order of Weldon Holland Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 Wayfaring Stranger 2014 Description / Buy
2 House of the Rising Sun 2015 Description / Buy
3 The Jealous Kind 2016 Description / Buy

Order of James Lee Burke Standalone Novels

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

Order of James Lee Burke Short Stories/Novellas

# Read Title Published Details
1 Texas City, 1947 (Short Story) 1992 Description / Buy

Order of James Lee Burke Short Story Collections

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

James Lee Burke Anthologies

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Best American Mystery Stories 2008 2008 Description / Buy
2 Delta Blues 2009 Description / Buy
3 The Best American Mystery Stories 2009 2009 Description / Buy
4 Books to Die For 2012 Description / Buy
5 The Best American Mystery Stories 2014 2014 Description / Buy
6 The Best American Mystery Stories 2018 2018 Description / 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 Every Cloak Rolled in Blood and was released on May, 24th 2022. 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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