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When Hackberry Holland became sheriff of a tiny Texas town near the Mexican border, he'd hoped to leave certain things behind: his checkered reputation, his haunted dreams, and his obsessive memories of the good life with his late wife, Rie. But the discovery of the bodies of nine illegal aliens, machine-gunned to death and buried in a shallow grave behind a church, soon makes it clear that he won't escape so easily.

As Hack and Deputy Sheriff Pam Tibbs attempt to untangle the threads of this complex and grisly case, a damaged young Iraq veteran, Pete Flores, and his girlfriend, Vikki Gaddis, are running for their lives, hoping to outwit the bloodthirsty criminals who want to kill Pete for his involvement in the murders. The only trouble is, Pete doesn't know who he's running from: drunk and terrified, he fled the scene of the crime when the shooting began. And there's a long list of people who want Pete and Vikki dead: crime boss Hugo Cistranos, who hired Pete for the operation; Nick Dolan, a strip club owner and small-time gangster with revenge on his mind; and a mysterious God-fearing serial-killer-for-hire known as Preacher Jack Collins, with enigmatic motives of his own.

With the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and a host of cold-blooded killers on Pete and Vikki's trail, it's up to Sheriff Holland to find them first and figure out who's behind the mass murder before anyone else ends up dead. In this thrilling and intricate work, James Lee Burke has once again proven himself a master storyteller and a perceptive chronicler of the darkest corners of the human heart.
Published: Simon & Schuster on Jul 14, 2009
ISBN: 9781439137369
List price: $9.99
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Great plot and characters for an audiobook! And Will Patton's narration was spot on; I loved the way he differentiated his tone and accent for various characters and had a baseline sound for the omniscient third person narrator (I hope that is clear.)I like Burke's other series but Sheriff Hackberry Holland is tempting me to step out on Dave Roubicheaux.The detail and humor of the characters reminded me of Elmore Leonard's work. I also got a hint of Cormac McCarthy in some of the plotting and descriptions of landscapes and such.Both my husband and I enjoyed listening to this book together and we are already looking for another in this series.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I normally enjoy James Lee Burke's novels, but this one was exceptional. Half a dozen of the characters (including both the protagonist, his deputy who loves him, and the villains) were outlined in mesmerizing detail.This was one of those rare novels I wished would never end.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Nowhere as good as the Robicheaux books.Too verbose.Too much religious mumbo-jumbo.Repetitive descriptions.Overuse of Kleenex [sounds like paid placement:]Hackberry Holland sounds too much Huckleberry Hound.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
for 4MA discussion - not my favorite Burke.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The book opens with Pete Flores making a 911 call that brings Hackberry Holland to an old, torn up Spanish style church in South Texas. Hackberry goes behind the church where digs up the bodies of nine young girls from Thailand. They had been murdered by Jack Collins a/k/a Preacher with a .45 caliber Thompson submachine gun that carried a 50 round pan magazine. Hugo Cistranos then used a bulldozer to pile dirt over their bodies leaving the area graded smoothly.Hack is a man in his seventies, a county Sheriff in South Texas. He retired there after the death of his second wife to escape the memories of their life together. He is also haunted by memories from Camp Five in No Name Valley where he was a prisoner in the Korean War. Preacher is a contract killer who corrects other people's grammar. His story is told through the book in bits and pieces revealing a truly evil man who lives by his own rules. Hugo Cistranos is at the top of the food chain of a number of thugs and killers.This book is a story of violence and killing full of action and surprises. It is also the story of three couples and their relationships as they take a long walk through hell in gasoline shorts. The couples have three very strong female characters. Vikkie Gaddis is Pete Flores girlfriend. She is a beautiful young woman who plays a Gibson J-200 guitar that she inherited from her father and sings songs from the Carter family. Pam Tibbs is Hack's Chief Deputy. She is a tough cop and Hack's refusal to acknowledge the feelings between them causes her constant pain. Esther Dolan is the wife of Nick Dolan. He runs a strip club and a restaurant and owns 40% of some escort services. Esther shows remarkable courage in defense of her family as Nick becomes a target of killers for his involvement in the murder of the Thai girls.The book is populated with numerous young male predators described here in one of the many masterpieces of the writer's craft that fill the book." At the same moment, one hundred miles away, three bikers were headed down a two-lane highway, full bore........ The crystal coursed in their veins, the dirty thunder of their exhaust flattening against the asphalt, the blowtorch velocity of the wind on their skin, the surge of the engines' power into their genitalia, blended together in a paean to their lives."I consider this the best book I have read by James Lee Burke to date. I listened to it on audio and then bought the print edition and read that. It is an excellent fast moving murder thriller that is Burke's stock in trade. The stories of the relationships of three couples take this book out of the usual for Burke. The characters in the book from Hack and Preacher to the bit players are well crafted with a gritty realism that shows Burke at his best.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
In his second Hackberry Holland novel, "Rain Gods," James Lee Burke explores the battle faced by Texas lawmen charged with stopping drugs and illegal aliens from crossing the state's southern border. The fact that Hurricane Katrina flushed some of the worst New Orleans scum into Texas, criminals who thrive on human suffering and weaknesses, including human trafficking, makes Sherif Holland's job just that much tougher.Hack Holland admits to himself that he has lived a full life but even at seventy-something years of age he is not ready to call it quits, and he his still the chief law enforcement officer in his little corner of southwest Texas. Hack is a reasonable man, not a judgmental one. He readily admits that his own past includes a time during which he was both a "drunk and a whoremonger" but those years have given him keen insight into the human condition. What he discovers behind a church late one afternoon, however, will shake him to his core.Working on an anonymous tip directing him to the empty ground behind the abandoned church, Holland unearths the machine-gunned bodies of nine women and girls who had been killed there just hours earlier. What he sees and smells as he uncovers the bodies causes him to flash back to his days as a Korean War POW and he knows that his nights are destined to be filled with nightmares again. What he does not know is that he has just stepped into the middle of a fight between New Orleans lowlifes that began decades earlier."Rain Gods" is an epic confrontation between good and evil but it is one in which those on the side of good are not always squeaky clean and those on the side of evil sometimes live under a moral code only they can understand. Its plot is a relatively simple one - but plot is not the most important thing in this James Lee Burke novel. What Burke does best is create complicated, totally believable, characters by adding layer after layer to their makeup while exploring what it is that makes each of them tick. And that is exactly what he does in "Rain Gods."Joining Hackberry Holland in this powerful story are Pam Tibbs, the young deputy who is falling in love with Hack as she works along side him to catch the killers; Pete Flores, the drunken Iraq War vet who knows too much about the murders to be allowed to live; Vikki Gaddis, Pete's long-suffering girlfriend; and "the preacher," a killer with enough of a conscious that he almost becomes a sympathetic character. Interestingly, Burke uses three very strong female characters to save some of his male characters from themselves: Holland has Pam Tibbs to save him from his fatalistic decisions, Vikki Gaddis is willing to flee alongside Pete Flores , and New Orleans gangster Nick Dolan finds that his wife Esther will fight like a tiger to save his life. Without their women, none of these men would have likely survived what happens to them in "Rain Gods."Burke has a good feel for what life in southwest Texas is like and he uses the look and climate of that part of the state almost as an additional character. Its bleakness and isolation offer the perfect setting for the story being told, a battle between the not-so-perfect and the not-completely-bad set in an environment that can be beautiful and depressing at the same time.Rate at: 5.0read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Lots of big words I had to look up. Holland ( sheriff of small town in Texas ) looks for murders of illegal women. His Deputiy looking to intangle him in her life, she is much younger. People running away from killers, Killers killing each other, Every one has a problem in their own life, Burke describes Texas boarder towns weather and land scape as something I world not like to experiance. To hot & dry for normal people.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This story brings together all the Burkeian elements of redemption, war guilt, the complexities of man (Preacher Collins), the curing power of love, and the author's love and usage of erudite vocabulary and pointoilistic word painting. As they say in bowling, it is a solid strike, right in the pocket, without any pin wavering. I hope Burke sees what a wonderful character he has created in the Preacher, as least equal to Raskolinov, and that he reprises him, but preferably not in southwest Texas (I dislike that place)!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is a story about justice and friendship.In the southern part of Texas by the Mexican border, the sheriff's office is informed that there were shots fired behind an old church.Sheriff Hackberry Holland, a Korean War vet, finds the graves of nine Asian woman. Later, he learns that they had balloons filled with drugs in their stomachs and were probably heading to a place where they could work as prostitutes.With James Lee Burke's ability to describe settings and provide unforgettable characters, we follow the trail of the killers.They want to kill the man who informed the law about the killings. The man, an Iraq vet may be able to identify the killers.The action is well paced so the reader can see what is going on with the criminals, the two young people who are running for their lives and law enforcement led by Hack Holland.The characters are well thought out and believable and the story is entertaining.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I enjoyed this audiobook, although I am partial to Burke's Robicheaux character. Hackberry Holland is a fine man and I like that Burke made him in his seventies and still has a young woman attracted to him. I think it does a lot to define his character, to show what a manly type of person he is and how his goodness makes him appealing. "Rain Gods" has a good deal going for it in terms of atmosphere. Burke uses the bleak and isolated climate of Texas in such a way that it contributes to the personalities of the characters by its influence on their moods.Holland not only has to confront a killer responsible for the deaths of people found in a mass grave but he has to deal with a preacher who claims to kill in the name of the Lord. His young deputy, Pam Tibbs, is attracted to him and he is not sure how to handsle that, but she tries to let him know. One of my favorite things about Burke's writing is that his characters are complex and well-developed and he hasn't let me down in this book. I recommend the audiobook if that is something you would consider, if not don't miss it either way!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I enjoyed reading this book - it wasn't "work". I liked the main character once I got past his name but maybe that's because I'm a Chicagoan and unfamiliar with the Western atmosphere. I felt the character is similar to Dave Robicheux - this isn't a bad thing and was pleased about the ending. I'm an Elmore Leonard fan and I'm really a fan of his dialog. Mr. Burke's dialog in "Rain Gods" was comparable and very entertaining.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A seemingly simple plot - a mass grave is uncovered, and the town Sheriff tracks down the killers - but this book is much more than a simple detective story. It is a contemplation upon the definition of good and evil: is a good man who bends the rules that different from a bad man with a strict moral code? Is a good man bent upon revenge for the murder of his daughter justified in doing bad things to bad people? Who is responsible for a battle-scarred veteran's bad choices? In a James Lee Burke novel, there is no clear black and white...it is all gray, and this makes the characters real, believable, and interesting.Amidst all these rich and varied characters, Burke spins a tangled web of a plot. It is impossible to know what will happen, where a character's actions will take him, and indeed who will survive and who will die. The question of who killed the women buried in the mass grave becomes secondary in the quest to understand why these multifaceted people behave as they do and whether the town sheriff will survive the events unfolding around him. Wonderful, well-written story.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
James lee Burke never disappoints. This is the first of his books that are not of the Louisiana detective whose name I can not spell series. It won't be the lastread more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Read all reviews

Reviews

Great plot and characters for an audiobook! And Will Patton's narration was spot on; I loved the way he differentiated his tone and accent for various characters and had a baseline sound for the omniscient third person narrator (I hope that is clear.)I like Burke's other series but Sheriff Hackberry Holland is tempting me to step out on Dave Roubicheaux.The detail and humor of the characters reminded me of Elmore Leonard's work. I also got a hint of Cormac McCarthy in some of the plotting and descriptions of landscapes and such.Both my husband and I enjoyed listening to this book together and we are already looking for another in this series.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I normally enjoy James Lee Burke's novels, but this one was exceptional. Half a dozen of the characters (including both the protagonist, his deputy who loves him, and the villains) were outlined in mesmerizing detail.This was one of those rare novels I wished would never end.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Nowhere as good as the Robicheaux books.Too verbose.Too much religious mumbo-jumbo.Repetitive descriptions.Overuse of Kleenex [sounds like paid placement:]Hackberry Holland sounds too much Huckleberry Hound.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
for 4MA discussion - not my favorite Burke.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The book opens with Pete Flores making a 911 call that brings Hackberry Holland to an old, torn up Spanish style church in South Texas. Hackberry goes behind the church where digs up the bodies of nine young girls from Thailand. They had been murdered by Jack Collins a/k/a Preacher with a .45 caliber Thompson submachine gun that carried a 50 round pan magazine. Hugo Cistranos then used a bulldozer to pile dirt over their bodies leaving the area graded smoothly.Hack is a man in his seventies, a county Sheriff in South Texas. He retired there after the death of his second wife to escape the memories of their life together. He is also haunted by memories from Camp Five in No Name Valley where he was a prisoner in the Korean War. Preacher is a contract killer who corrects other people's grammar. His story is told through the book in bits and pieces revealing a truly evil man who lives by his own rules. Hugo Cistranos is at the top of the food chain of a number of thugs and killers.This book is a story of violence and killing full of action and surprises. It is also the story of three couples and their relationships as they take a long walk through hell in gasoline shorts. The couples have three very strong female characters. Vikkie Gaddis is Pete Flores girlfriend. She is a beautiful young woman who plays a Gibson J-200 guitar that she inherited from her father and sings songs from the Carter family. Pam Tibbs is Hack's Chief Deputy. She is a tough cop and Hack's refusal to acknowledge the feelings between them causes her constant pain. Esther Dolan is the wife of Nick Dolan. He runs a strip club and a restaurant and owns 40% of some escort services. Esther shows remarkable courage in defense of her family as Nick becomes a target of killers for his involvement in the murder of the Thai girls.The book is populated with numerous young male predators described here in one of the many masterpieces of the writer's craft that fill the book." At the same moment, one hundred miles away, three bikers were headed down a two-lane highway, full bore........ The crystal coursed in their veins, the dirty thunder of their exhaust flattening against the asphalt, the blowtorch velocity of the wind on their skin, the surge of the engines' power into their genitalia, blended together in a paean to their lives."I consider this the best book I have read by James Lee Burke to date. I listened to it on audio and then bought the print edition and read that. It is an excellent fast moving murder thriller that is Burke's stock in trade. The stories of the relationships of three couples take this book out of the usual for Burke. The characters in the book from Hack and Preacher to the bit players are well crafted with a gritty realism that shows Burke at his best.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
In his second Hackberry Holland novel, "Rain Gods," James Lee Burke explores the battle faced by Texas lawmen charged with stopping drugs and illegal aliens from crossing the state's southern border. The fact that Hurricane Katrina flushed some of the worst New Orleans scum into Texas, criminals who thrive on human suffering and weaknesses, including human trafficking, makes Sherif Holland's job just that much tougher.Hack Holland admits to himself that he has lived a full life but even at seventy-something years of age he is not ready to call it quits, and he his still the chief law enforcement officer in his little corner of southwest Texas. Hack is a reasonable man, not a judgmental one. He readily admits that his own past includes a time during which he was both a "drunk and a whoremonger" but those years have given him keen insight into the human condition. What he discovers behind a church late one afternoon, however, will shake him to his core.Working on an anonymous tip directing him to the empty ground behind the abandoned church, Holland unearths the machine-gunned bodies of nine women and girls who had been killed there just hours earlier. What he sees and smells as he uncovers the bodies causes him to flash back to his days as a Korean War POW and he knows that his nights are destined to be filled with nightmares again. What he does not know is that he has just stepped into the middle of a fight between New Orleans lowlifes that began decades earlier."Rain Gods" is an epic confrontation between good and evil but it is one in which those on the side of good are not always squeaky clean and those on the side of evil sometimes live under a moral code only they can understand. Its plot is a relatively simple one - but plot is not the most important thing in this James Lee Burke novel. What Burke does best is create complicated, totally believable, characters by adding layer after layer to their makeup while exploring what it is that makes each of them tick. And that is exactly what he does in "Rain Gods."Joining Hackberry Holland in this powerful story are Pam Tibbs, the young deputy who is falling in love with Hack as she works along side him to catch the killers; Pete Flores, the drunken Iraq War vet who knows too much about the murders to be allowed to live; Vikki Gaddis, Pete's long-suffering girlfriend; and "the preacher," a killer with enough of a conscious that he almost becomes a sympathetic character. Interestingly, Burke uses three very strong female characters to save some of his male characters from themselves: Holland has Pam Tibbs to save him from his fatalistic decisions, Vikki Gaddis is willing to flee alongside Pete Flores , and New Orleans gangster Nick Dolan finds that his wife Esther will fight like a tiger to save his life. Without their women, none of these men would have likely survived what happens to them in "Rain Gods."Burke has a good feel for what life in southwest Texas is like and he uses the look and climate of that part of the state almost as an additional character. Its bleakness and isolation offer the perfect setting for the story being told, a battle between the not-so-perfect and the not-completely-bad set in an environment that can be beautiful and depressing at the same time.Rate at: 5.0
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Lots of big words I had to look up. Holland ( sheriff of small town in Texas ) looks for murders of illegal women. His Deputiy looking to intangle him in her life, she is much younger. People running away from killers, Killers killing each other, Every one has a problem in their own life, Burke describes Texas boarder towns weather and land scape as something I world not like to experiance. To hot & dry for normal people.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This story brings together all the Burkeian elements of redemption, war guilt, the complexities of man (Preacher Collins), the curing power of love, and the author's love and usage of erudite vocabulary and pointoilistic word painting. As they say in bowling, it is a solid strike, right in the pocket, without any pin wavering. I hope Burke sees what a wonderful character he has created in the Preacher, as least equal to Raskolinov, and that he reprises him, but preferably not in southwest Texas (I dislike that place)!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is a story about justice and friendship.In the southern part of Texas by the Mexican border, the sheriff's office is informed that there were shots fired behind an old church.Sheriff Hackberry Holland, a Korean War vet, finds the graves of nine Asian woman. Later, he learns that they had balloons filled with drugs in their stomachs and were probably heading to a place where they could work as prostitutes.With James Lee Burke's ability to describe settings and provide unforgettable characters, we follow the trail of the killers.They want to kill the man who informed the law about the killings. The man, an Iraq vet may be able to identify the killers.The action is well paced so the reader can see what is going on with the criminals, the two young people who are running for their lives and law enforcement led by Hack Holland.The characters are well thought out and believable and the story is entertaining.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I enjoyed this audiobook, although I am partial to Burke's Robicheaux character. Hackberry Holland is a fine man and I like that Burke made him in his seventies and still has a young woman attracted to him. I think it does a lot to define his character, to show what a manly type of person he is and how his goodness makes him appealing. "Rain Gods" has a good deal going for it in terms of atmosphere. Burke uses the bleak and isolated climate of Texas in such a way that it contributes to the personalities of the characters by its influence on their moods.Holland not only has to confront a killer responsible for the deaths of people found in a mass grave but he has to deal with a preacher who claims to kill in the name of the Lord. His young deputy, Pam Tibbs, is attracted to him and he is not sure how to handsle that, but she tries to let him know. One of my favorite things about Burke's writing is that his characters are complex and well-developed and he hasn't let me down in this book. I recommend the audiobook if that is something you would consider, if not don't miss it either way!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I enjoyed reading this book - it wasn't "work". I liked the main character once I got past his name but maybe that's because I'm a Chicagoan and unfamiliar with the Western atmosphere. I felt the character is similar to Dave Robicheux - this isn't a bad thing and was pleased about the ending. I'm an Elmore Leonard fan and I'm really a fan of his dialog. Mr. Burke's dialog in "Rain Gods" was comparable and very entertaining.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A seemingly simple plot - a mass grave is uncovered, and the town Sheriff tracks down the killers - but this book is much more than a simple detective story. It is a contemplation upon the definition of good and evil: is a good man who bends the rules that different from a bad man with a strict moral code? Is a good man bent upon revenge for the murder of his daughter justified in doing bad things to bad people? Who is responsible for a battle-scarred veteran's bad choices? In a James Lee Burke novel, there is no clear black and white...it is all gray, and this makes the characters real, believable, and interesting.Amidst all these rich and varied characters, Burke spins a tangled web of a plot. It is impossible to know what will happen, where a character's actions will take him, and indeed who will survive and who will die. The question of who killed the women buried in the mass grave becomes secondary in the quest to understand why these multifaceted people behave as they do and whether the town sheriff will survive the events unfolding around him. Wonderful, well-written story.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
James lee Burke never disappoints. This is the first of his books that are not of the Louisiana detective whose name I can not spell series. It won't be the last
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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