A-Feast-Day-of-Fools%09-1Edgar Award-winning author James Lee Burke is best known for his Detective Dave Robicheaux mysteries. Feast Day of Fools is the third entry in the Hackberry Holland series, after Lay Down My Sword and Shield (1971) and Rain Gods (4 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2009).

The Story: In Rain Gods, Sheriff Hackberry Holland, who patrols a small Texas border town, dealt with mobsters displaced from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Here, he mourns the death of his wife, struggles with his feelings for the much younger Deputy Pam Tibbs, and gets involved with Danny Boy Lorca, an alcoholic Indian known for his bizarre visions and hallucinations. When Lorca claims to have witnessed a man murdered in the desert and a mutilated corpse turns up, Holland must unmask the evil lurking within his hardscrabble town. As he pursues his investigation, Holland finds himself face to face with enemies old and new and a mysterious Chinese woman known as La Magdalena.
Simon & Schuster. 480 pages. $26.99. ISBN: 9781451643114

Seattle Post-Intelligencer 4.5 of 5 Stars"[I]f James Lee Burke worked his magic with a paintbrush, Feast Day of Fools would be the Sistine Chapel of his novels. ... I can't say whether the story took him four years to write or not, but the end result was the same as Michelangelo's--perfectly stunning." Cowtown Pattie

Miami Herald 4 of 5 Stars"Riveting. ... Feast Day is a dark soul mate to [Rain Gods]: violent yet strangely elegant, steadfastly unflinching in its view of mankind as a mostly sorry collection of lost souls fighting a compulsion to drag themselves and each other down into some low circle of perdition." Connie Ogle

Philadelphia Inquirer 4 of 5 Stars"Feast Day of Fools is a richly complex novel with several themes and subplots. At times, these seem unrelated, almost extraneous, but Burke justifies each spin-off through extraordinary characterizations, dialogue, sense of place, and an almost mystical, allegorical summation." Deen Kogan

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars"Burke is only three books into this series, so he hasn't quite assembled all the iconography for future morality plays. But he's already got himself a formidable high priestess and enough sinners to keep her busy for a good long while." Marilyn Stasio

Post and Courier (Charleston, SC) HHH

"While Feast Day of Fools is a solid novel with an abundance of rich characters, it is not Burke's finest. Echoes of the last Holland novel are a bit too clear, and his villains are much more well-spoken and better-read than almost any true criminal." Brian Hicks

Critical Summary

Nearly five decades after the publication of his first novel, James Lee Burke still manages to captivate. Most critics loved Feast Day of Fools, with its conflicted characters set amid their rough Texas landscape and its "superb storytelling" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). Although one critic wasn't overly impressed with this entry in the series, he had nothing but the highest praise for Burke's overall body of work. With its exploration of touchstone issues such as immigration and religious freedom, Feast Day of Fools is recommended for readers who like their mysteries sprawling, spiritual, and "voluptuously violent" (New York Times Book Review).