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Wednesday, 1 March 2017
'The Jealous Kind’ by James Lee Burke
There is no question in my mind that James Lee Burke is one of the two or three finest writers currently practising in the United States. His style is lyrical, almost poetical. His ability to create character is phenomenal. No-one can set a scene with such powerfully evocative prose or depict an atmosphere in such exquisitely compelling language.
In The Jealous Kind, he has produced a darkly realistic novel of love, hate, fear and danger. So much so that I had to put the book down for several days in order to draw breath and let go of the terror it temporarily inspired in me. All of us were once young and uncertain and experiencing our first love. Many of us have felt helpless at the ruthless hands of bullies richer and more powerful than we ever aspired to be. Luckily, almost none of us has had to face the Mob and its black ramifications, as does 17-year-old Aaron Holland Broussard when he gets on the wrong side of Grady Harrelson, a rich kid who considers himself entitled to take what he pleases out of life. Only as the book progresses does Burke begin to unpeel the layers of his protagonists and show us a different side to them.
This multi-layered novel is set in Houston and Galveston in Texas, in 1952, during the Korean War, though this background impacts only slightly (though nonetheless significantly) on the action. Despite the bleakness of Lee Burke's vision, he skilfully evokes those times with descriptions of the music, the cars, the teenage fashions, the hairstyles of the day.
It should be obvious that I am a huge fan of James Lee Burke and have read a large amount of his work, especially the Dave Robichaux stories. This one, the sixth in the Holland series, is a murkier and more morally serious than his previous books. Don't miss it, whatever you do.
Reviewer: Susan Moody
James Lee Burke is the author of many previous novels, many featuring Detective Dave Robicheaux. He won the Edgar Award in 1998 for Cimarron Rose, while Black Cherry Blues won the Edgar in 1990 and Sunset Limited was awarded the CWA Gold Dagger in 1998. He lives with his wife, Pearl, in Missoula, Montana and New Iberia, Louisiana.
Susan Moody was born in Oxford is the principal nom de plume of Susan Elizabeth Donaldson, née Horwood, a British novelist best known for her suspense novels. She is a former Chairman of the Crime Writer's Association, served as World President of the International Association of Crime Writers, and was elected to the prestigious Detection Club. Susan Moody has given numerous courses on writing crime fiction and continues to teach creative writing in England, France, Australia, the USA and Denmark. In addition to her many stand alone books, Susan has written two series, on featuring PI Penny Wanawake (seven books) and a series of six books featuring bridge player Cassie Swan.