From New York Times bestselling author James Lee Burke—an atmospheric, coming-of-age story set in 1952 Texas, as the Korea War rages.
On its surface, life in Houston is as you would expect: drive-in restaurants, souped-up cars, jukeboxes, teenagers discovering their sexuality. But beneath the glitz and superficial normalcy, a class war has begun, and it is nothing like the conventional portrayal of the decade. Against this backdrop Aaron Holland Broussard discovers the poignancy of first novel and a world of violence he did not know existed.
When Aaron spots the beautiful and gifted Valerie Epstein fighting with her boyfriend, Grady Harrelson, at a Galveston drive-in, he inadvertently challenges the power of the Mob and one of the richest families in Texas. He also discovers he must find the courage his father had found as an American soldier in the Great War.
Written in evocative prose, The Jealous Kind may prove to be James Lee Burke’s most encompassing work yet. As Aaron undergoes his harrowing evolution from boy to man, we can’t help but recall the inspirational and curative power of first love and how far we would go to protect it.
Burke was born in Houston, Texas, but grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. He attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of Missouri, receiving a BA and MA from the latter. He has worked at a wide variety of jobs over the years, including working in the oil industry, as a reporter, and as a social worker. He was Writer in Residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, succeeding his good friend and posthumous Pulitzer Prize winner John Kennedy Toole, and preceding Ernest Gaines in the position. Shortly before his move to Montana, he taught for several years in the Creative Writing program at Wichita State University in the 1980s.
Burke and his wife, Pearl, split their time between Lolo, Montana, and New Iberia, Louisiana. Their daughter, Alafair Burke, is also a mystery novelist.
The book that has influenced his life the most is the 1929 family tragedy "The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner.
This is my first James Lee Burke novel and certainly won't be my last. I'm shocked I've made it this long without reading a book from "one of the greatest writers in the business" in our time. I always wanted to pick up one of his books, but kept putting it off until I won this one on a Goodreads Giveaway. Clearly this is marked as #2 in a series, but I found it completely manageable to read on it's own (or that could just be because I have no idea what I'm missing out on). The writing was solid, smooth, and gripping unlike most authors I've read; I'm not sure how to describe his writing beyond experience with a natural born talent for storytelling. The characters were deeply developed and kept me on my toes throughout the read. I love his sense of suspense because it's not over dark, but just as intriguing as those writing just for the shock value. I found myself very moved by the outlook some of these men had to face post war which got me a bit choked up. I was drawn in enough by this book that I'd like to go back and read Wayfaring Stranger to spend some more time with this intricately knit and at times humorous family. 4 solid stars from me for this one!
I received my copy from the publisher via Goodreads Giveaway. Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for my copy!
James Lee Burke is probably best known for his mystery series about Detective Dave Robicheaux, but he also pens novels about the Holland family. This book is about Aaron Holland Broussard, grandson of former Texas lawman Hackberry Holland. The story is narrated by Aaron as an adult, looking back at the summer of 1952, when he was seventeen. The book works fine as a standalone.
Seventeen-year-old Aaron Holland Broussard lives in Houston, Texas; is finishing his third year of high school; rides bulls in the junior division of the rodeo; works in a gas station; and aspires to be a writer.
Aaron's mother works in a bank and suffers from depression; Aaron's father is a white collar employee of an oil company, is writing a book about the Civil War, and drinks too much.....but never in the house.
Aaron loves his parents and greatly admires his father, who's a WWI hero in Aaron's eyes.
A turning point of Aaron's life occurs on Galveston Island, where Aaron's gone to swim and have fun with his friends. On the way home, Aaron stops at a drive-in fast food restaurant and sees gorgeous Valerie Epstein arguing with her preppy boyfriend Grady Harrelson.
Aaron offers his assistance, Grady behaves like a bully and boor, and - in the end - Valerie breaks up with Grady and stalks off.
Aaron goes to Valerie's house the next day, to 'see how she's doing', and is harangued by neighborhood tough Loren Nichols and his cronies.
Aaron assumes Loren has been egged on by angry Grady Harrelson, who's the scion of a wealthy and connected Houston family. Aaron blows off the hoodlums and embarks on a relationship with Valerie, an unusually mature teenager who he considers the love of his life.
Unfortunately, Grady causes more trouble for Aaron and his best friend, class clown Saber Bledsoe.
Grady's father is a right wing zealot in cahoots with gangsters, a corrupt cop, and a pedophile high school teacher. With the powerful Harrelsons on their case, Aaron and Saber find themselves ensnarled in bloody fights, murder, theft, arson, trumped up arrests, mob retribution, and more.
Aaron would like to work things out righteously, but Saber - who's wild and reckless - falls in with Mexican drug dealers, and his ongoing criminal activity makes everything worse.
One of the main themes of the book is the effect of bad fathers on their children. Aaron, who's grown up with caring parents, is honest and well-adjusted. The other young men in the story, including Grady Harrelson, Loren Nichols, Saber Bledsoe, and Vick Atlas - the son of a mobster, have fathers who are some combination of hateful, mean, alcoholic, and violent. These unloved boys all go bad in one fashion or another. Aaron tries to help them when he can, but it's a tough proposition.
In lighter moments of the book, Aaron and Valerie go for drives, watch movies, play miniature golf, enjoy ice cream, eat watermelon, get cozy, and so on.
In the novel's darker moments, Aaron and Valerie's lives are endangered, with sadistic mobsters on the prowl. Like all Burke's books, the overarching motif of the story is good vs. evil (greedy, corrupt, narcissistic, and selfish).
Because the story is told from the point of view of an adult looking back, some of the teenagers speak like graduate students majoring in philosophy, which can be jarring. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.
The Houston area, 1952, is the setting for this end of the trilogy featuring the Holland family. AARON Holland falls for a young girl, Valerie and sets off a series of events, that soon find him embroiled n more trouble than one can shake a stick at. This is not the 1950's of the sitcom Happy Days, this is time and place that is filled with mobsters, murders and other undesirables including a teacher who wants nothing more than payback. It is a time of sexual awakening for Aaron but this yearning will have some dire consequences.
As always there is just something about this author's stories that pull me in, I find them so immensely readable. Well rounded, fully fleshed out characters, characters that the reader can never be sure of what they will do next. His stories are adventurous, suspenseful and humorous. This a story portraying a grim view of 1950's post war time period, and features, including Aaron's father, a hard look at these men who have sacrificed everything. It is about courage and how one will react in dire situations. This is the ending of the trilogy but I felt the ending could lead to more stories about this remarkable family. As usual With Burke's books, I loved it.
The Jealous Kind is set in 1952 Houston, the story told through the eyes of Aaron Holland Broussard, older now as he reflects this time in his youth, but in 1952 Aaron was a 17 year old young man. A young man who still has a somewhat naïve vision of the world and people. He’s a nice young man, respectful, honest, a “good boy.” It’s the summer after his Junior year in High School, he’s borrowed his father’s car to drive to the beach where his high school “buds” on Galveston Beach.
“There was a time in my life when I woke every morning with fear and anxiety and did not know why. For me, fear was a given I factored into the events of the day, like a pebble that never leaves your shoe.”
At the beach, in the water he finds himself surrounded by jellyfish, a shark hovering nearby, he feels that sense of danger that never seems to leave him. And so in a moment that offers no real choice, he swims through the jellyfish without being stung. It becomes the moment that will change his life forever.
“Her name was Valerie Epstein. She was sitting in a long-bodies pink Cadillac convertible, what we used to call a boat, in a drive-in restaurant wrapped in neon, near the beach, her bare shoulders powdered with sunburn. Her hair wasn’t just auburn; it was thick and freshly washed and had gold streaks in it…”
Aaron overhears her argument with her boyfriend, and being a gentleman, he asks if anything is wrong. He’s entered a world very different from the world he sees at home, at school, with his one friend, and doesn’t seem aware of the line he’s just stepped over.
As the narrator points out repeatedly in this novel, Houston was the murder capital of America in the 1950s. It certainly was a darker view of life in that era than “Happy Days,” or “Grease” but it’s not all dark.
Aaron is still young and naïve, and Valerie is the most revered girl in school. What chance does a boy like Aaron have with a girl like Valerie? But there needs to be some goodness and light in this story of the underworld side of 1952 Houston. There has to be a bit of a love story, and a bit of youthful stupidity, maybe even some growing up on the parts of teenagers and adults. Throw in some internal conflict, the moral line we draw to protect others and ourselves when we feel that we, or someone we love, is being threatened.
This is the first novel I’ve read by James Lee Burke, I enjoyed reading this suspense novel, and I will read more of his novels in the future as I found this a pleasure to read.
Houston, Texas. The year is 1952 and seventeen year old Aaron Broussard has just stepped into a big ol' pile of poop. In trying to extricate himself, he manages to stumble into an even bigger pile. The piles of doo-doo are figurative, of course. He, along with his best friend, Saber, have offended the delicate sensibilities of some very scary people. I'm talking mobsters and the like. Trouble ensues.
Through the years I've had the opportunity to read books by so many incredibly talented authors. I have "discovered" new authors I've never heard of and experienced the latest works of authors whose every book I've read. Of course, along the way, I've developed some favorites, but I'll tell you this: when he's at the top of his form, there is no one who writes like James Lee Burke. No one.
While Burke is best known for a few series of books, particularly those featuring Louisiana police detective Dave Robichaux and his erstwhile troublemaker friend, Clete Purcell, The Jealous Kind is a stand-alone novel, although tangentially related to Hackberry Holland, a character in another one of Burke's series.
It's 1952 in Houston, Texas. The world is on the cusp of the Korean War; the economic disparities between the haves and have-nots couldn't be more clear; and racial relations are continuing to deteriorate. Aaron Broussard is a high school junior who has always done a good job fading into the crowd, although his familial history of mental illness and alcoholism leaves him prone to "spells," fugue-like states when he doesn't quite know what he's doing. One night while at a drive-in in Galveston, Aaron sees the beautiful, feisty, and intelligent Valerie Epstein, and he is instantly smitten. When he sees Valerie fighting with her boyfriend, Grady Harrelson, a petulant rich kid with a penchant for violence, Aaron suddenly feels emboldened enough to step into the middle of the fight and protect Valerie.
This one act sets a chain of events in motion, events which mire Aaron, his best friend Saber, Valerie, Aaron's family, and others in a spiraling web of violence, degradation, and betrayal. There are run-ins with organized crime, street gangs, and one of the richest families in Texas with nefarious connections. There are also undertones of corruption, Communism, and the brainwashing and abuse of young men. All of this is territory that James Lee Burke can mine to exceptional results.
As Aaron tries to protect his family and further his relationship with Valerie, he is determined to right whatever wrongs he caused, as well as find out exactly who is behind the threats and the violence being perpetuated. He is a young man with a strong sense of honor yet the immense need to say whatever is on his mind, no matter whom it might hurt, and more often than not he winds up blundering into a situation which puts him and those he cares about at risk.
While this is a stand-alone novel, the characters of Aaron and Saber reminded me a great deal of Dave Robichaux and Clete Purcell. Dave, although tremendously flawed and enormously troubled, has a very strong sense of right and wrong (which is sometimes misplaced), but it doesn't stop him from angering the wrong people, who wish to do him harm. And Clete, like Saber, is a character who cannot leave well-enough alone and is his own worst enemy, but his pride and his loyalty to his friend often get him into trouble.
Beyond the violence and tension in this book, which Burke ratchets up periodically, this is a book about the power of first love, and how far we'd go to protect it. It's also about overcoming your family's ghosts and scandals, but doing right by those who raised you. And it's also a story about the depths some will sink to in the name of greed, revenge, pride, and jealousy.
There's so much I liked about this book, but as always, I'm transfixed by the sheer power of Burke's words and his vivid imagery, which conjures up the place and time of this book (and many of his others) so perfectly. If you've never read his work before, this isn't a bad one to start with, but I'd encourage you to pick up a Dave Robichaux novel or two as well, to see the master at work.
NetGalley and Simon & Schuster provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!
Fans of Burke’s work will know that the Holland family have featured in novels dating back to the early 70’s. This clan can be tracked all the way back to Sam Holland, who escaped from a prison in Louisiana in 1835 and fought at the Battle of San Jacinto a year later. His grandson was Hackberry Holland. He was a city marshal and a Texas Ranger who put the famous outlaw and gunslinger John Wesley Hardin in jail. In this book we meet Hackberry’s grandson, Aaron Holland Broussard. The year is 1952 and the setting is Houston and the Gulf Coast area around Galveston Island. Eighteen-year-old Aaron has a fateful run-in with local hotshot and rich boy Grady Harrelson at a drive-in and the events that follow threaten not only his own future but that of his family and close friend, Saber Bledsoe.
There are Mob connections, a varied collection of unsavoury characters and a girl who Aaron falls for in a big way. Unfortunately, the girl happens to be the girlfriend of Harrelson – until the incident at the drive-in, that is. All the male characters have a hard edge and confrontation is a given whenever two or more of them share a page. The exception is Saber who is wild and wacky and totally fearless. He’s funny too but his fragile temperament leads him astray and before long he’s proving to be as much a problem as a help to Aaron.
The relationship between Aaron and Saber puts me in mind of the chemistry between two of Burke’s protaganists from probably his most well known series. Aaron is very much like a young Dave Robicheaux – speaks like him, acts like him and is even prone to blackout incidents like him – whereas Saber is Clete Purcell in different clothes. I didn’t mind this, I loved the sections where the two were interacting. However, I know that some will point out that JLB is prone to write the same book over again but with a different cover. I disagree, but I know where they’re coming from.
I enjoyed this book. It’s got all the power and the superbly descriptive writing that Burke always delivers. The characters are big and plot was twisty enough to keep me guessing. If you’re already a fan, then you won’t be disappointed and if you’re new to this author then this isn’t a bad place to start. It works as a stand-alone tale and delivers a big punch. Another excellent story from probably my favourite writer of them all.
My thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
3 1/2 stars. I had never given much thought to reading James Lee Burke until I started noticing some of my GR friends singing his praises and writing about his books as though they had fallen under a spell. So I jumped at the opportunity to read The Jealous Kind when it became available on Netgalley. And you certainly are a charmer JLB, although I'm not sure I started with your best book. Set in Texas in 1952, The Jealous Kind is told from 17 year old Aaron's perspective. He puts his nose in the wrong place, and finds himself ensnared in a complex web of people with lots of baggage, nasty motivations and jealousies to last several lifetimes. Aaron has the gift of gab, way more curiosity than should keep him safe, an unduly keen moral compass and really interesting parents. The story has many turns and the characters flit between good and evil at breakneck pace. And JLB sure knows how to write -- he paints on the atmosphere nice and thick. I'm thinking this may not be the best book to start with because at times I felt like there were a few too many strands and twists to the story -- a sign of someone who has written many successful books whose editors are a little laxer than they might be otherwise. But I'm certainly enticed enough by the characters, writing and atmosphere to double back and read some of his earlier books. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy. And thanks to the enthusiasm of a a few GR friends.
A excellent tour of the coming of age by a 17 year old boy in Houston in 1952. This could be the one to help Burke escape getting pigeonholed as a genre writer, based on his success with a detective series set in Louisiana featuring Dave Robicheaux. I have always admired this good-hearted lawman who fights heroically against corruption and evil in the world while struggling with his own internal darkness borne out of his impoverished Cajun childhood, military service in Vietnam, past alcoholism, and rare fits of uncontrollable violence. Along the way Burke has forayed into historical fiction through various generations of the Holland family in Texas and Montana. These can get seen as more crime fiction, despite his continued application of lyrical prose that lifts the reader off the page and exploration of themes mined by the likes of Faulkner and McCarthy to tap into Southern and Western mentality.
This is my 28th reading from Burke’s novels, so I guess that makes me suspect as a biased fan. I’ll try to marshal his own words as much as possible to convey what I admire so much with this one. For example, consider the potency in this one paragraph to capture the naïve optimism of the U.S. seven years after the end of World War 2:
No other country had our power or influence. Music was everywhere. Regular was eighteen cents a gallon. …Those small and inglorious things somehow translated into a confidence that seemed to dispel mortality itself, even though Joseph McCarthy was ripping up the Constitution and GI’s were dying in large numbers in places no one could locate on the map or would take the time to spit on.
The initial setting of is of young Aaron on a summer outing with his father’s car to a drive-in food joint in Galveston. How about this as a topic sentence for the whole book, drawing one with gravity toward a black hole of troubles: I was about to enter a country that had no flag or boundaries, a place where you gave up your cares and your cautionary instincts and deposited your heart on a stone altar.
There he encounters a smart, pretty girl he admires, Valerie, being verbally abused by an older boy, Grady, the spoiled son of a rich oilman and rice producer. Being a man means intervening, and verbal sparring soon leads to threats. Aaron in a rage is not a pretty sight to see. He worries about the loss of control that begins to come over him like an epileptic before a seizure:
The popping sound in my ears started again. The parking lot and canvas canopy above the cars seemed to tilt sideways; the red and yellow neon sign at the restaurant became a blur, like licorice melting, running down the windows.
Valerie leaves in a huff, but later is won over from his attentions to become his new girlfriend, thereby cinching forever his enemy status with Grady. Soon some harassment by gang youths leads Aaron to suspect Grady is using proxies against them in revenge. Aaron’s bosom buddy Saber escalates the conflict, and the ante gets raised in the form of a new adversary, the vicious son of a mobster, Vic Atlas. Racing around in cars one night to bait Grady, Saber notches up the war by throwing a brick through the windshield of one car, which ends up seriously injuring Vic.
Saber will remind readers of the out-of-control Clete Purcell in the Robicheaux series. Like Clete, Saber is reliably loyal and a great man to guard your back: People like Saber died on crosses or were lobotomized but never compromised or absorbed into the herd.
As Aaron’s enemies multiply and reveal larger connections, his courage and values get severely tested. He begins to look to the fathers for wisdom as well as for the responsible parties pulling the strings. Aaron’s own father served in the trenches in World War 1, so he knows courage and determination. But no tactics for him to follow, having imbibed that the only way to survive going over the top was to never think about it, or talk about the fighting afterwards. Valerie’s father turns out to be an old leftie who served in intelligence with the OSS precursor to the CIA, and a resource for another kind of limited advice. Saber’s father is a factory worker, so not much help. On the enemy side of things, Aaron puts the bit to his teeth for face-to-face verbal showdowns with Grady’s corrupt businessman father and with Vic’s mobster father.
I am not exposing critical plot turns here, but just raising for your imagination how a generation of fathers, home from the wars, can be responsible for the problems of the next generation while the mess they inherit must be addressed by the inheritors. Aaron tries his best to live in peace, pursuing his idyllic romance with Valerie with dances, movies and trips to the beach, saving up for college by working at a gas station, and riding a bull in the annual rodeo. But we know he must perform a miracle and resolve the dangers headed his way. Saber seems to make things worse, but Aaron will need his dirty tricks. An old police detective, who also is a former OSS agent, as well as a fancy call girl connected to both Grady’s father and the mob are surprising resources that Aaron comes to harness for his mission impossible. A final source of help is a gang member who sometimes does jobs for Vic, a young man Aaron succeeds in befriending by empathy and teaching him to play guitar. A great cast of characters to cover the bases of this post-war ballpark. Lots of powerful or gifted plays by both teams and a great final inning are in store for readers here.
Some find Burke guilty of purple patch in language and overly romanticized use of good versus evil. I think he shows here good restrain on his effusive flights of prose and good nuance in play on morality issues. It seems such a fine, semi-mythtic portrayal of coming of age I have to wonder why he took so long to take up a developmental story.
3.5★ JLB paints such great word pictures that it’s worth reading him just for that. This is a story about good guys and bad guys, many of them only about 17 years old, but it’s hardly a typical coming-of-age novel.
Our hero is Aaron Holland Broussard, remembering his youth in 1952. The locale is Houston, Texas, where teens hang out at hamburger drive-ins, get ice creams and watermelon to cool off, go fishing, and wait to finish high school.
That’s Aaron, but it’s not the kids from the other side of the tracks, so to speak. Aaron spots a 1941 Ford rumbling down the road and recognises what he calls “greasers” and describes them in a single, wonderful sentence.
“An indolent stare, slightly rounded shoulders, the shirt unbuttoned to expose the top of the chest, the collar turned up on the neck, the drapes threaded through the loops by a thin suede belt buckled below the navel, shirt cuffs buttoned even in summer, a tablespoon of grease in the sweeps of hair combed into a trench at the back of the head, iron taps on the needle-nose stomps that could be used to shatter someone’s teeth on the sidewalk the ‘pachuco’ cross tattooed on the web between the left forefinger and thumb, and more important, the total absence of pity or mercy in the eyes.”
Aaron’s best mate is beginning to go off the rails and Aaron has fallen hard for a beautiful girl. There is a long, convoluted tale about the ever-present threat of attack from angry, mob-connected villains, out to get Aaron and the good guys (in the bloodiest possible fashion), although there is considerable overlap between good and bad, so that the story got too far out of hand for me to enjoy it.
I liked the characters (when I could tell them apart) and loved the writing. The story I won’t remember.
I’ve quoted (sorry again, Simon and Schuster) from my NetGalley preview copy, but I sure hope none of it changes, because I love it!
Expectations were high for our first date, and though I recognized your talent I just didn't get butterflies.
I agreed to a second date, and hoped a more interesting venue -- Houston in the 1950's-- might light my fire. There's so much about you that I like -- you write intelligently without being a pompous snob, you create smoldering atmosphere, and you know how to write women. And yet..... I couldn't buy-in to the plot premise of the book. How it was that the situation got so deadly serious over just a few comments.
So many people whose opinions I value love this book, and all your books. We have yet to hit the bulls eye, so I'm going to chalk this up to you and I not being a good match.
Best wishes to you in the future.
Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
5★ A coming-of-age story Holland-family-style circa 1952. A gospel of righteousness vs evil according to James Lee Burke. An alternative American Graffiti if you will with a cast of boys-to-men carrying chains, blades, and other assorted weapons. They do not fear death and eat their pain like ice cream, believing authority over others is an achievement and violence is proof of one’s bravery, no doubt the inspiration of future songs like Bad To The Bone. Some like to play miniature golf, the guitar, ride bulls, work on their car, and say Yes ma’am and No sir. They will inspire songs like You’ve Got A Friend.
All the Holland family traits are present. They are a good-hearted, compromised, and violent people. The males are reckless with that bad-boy attraction some females cannot resist, as well as polite and fair-natured if you don’t cross their line with injustice or evil acts. Don’t threaten harm to their women or their pets either. You’d want them in the trenches with you or as an escort walking in unsafe neighborhoods after dark. They will never support gun control reform. Young Aaron (Weldon’s cousin) stands up for Valerie only to unleash a power play with thugs who have the confidence of youth and deadness in their eyes when staring down someone they don't like. The courage of one’s convictions will be tested, true friends revealed, lots of stuff will hit the fan. As expected, the females will channel their inner samurai warrior-princess and inspire songs like Stand By Your Man.
Yes, I experienced deja vu flashbacks to the previous Holland novels. Was I bothered by this? You bet not. I was hooked from page one and served leftover food and wine for dinner and ran out of dog food. But as most of you reading this already know, I am one of those females who cannot resist. There is no explanation for this except some primal chemical attraction at work. The words on the pages act like a trail of pheromones I am compelled to follow. Fangirl status is intact. Hot Damn.
P.S. With all due respect to the author, a few of my words and sentence structure are inspired, borrowed, or changed up from his narrative without using direct quotes as requested by the publisher in my complimentary/read now digital copy. I love quoting JLB and found it almost painful to abstain. I hope I honored their request and am most grateful for the opportunity to have read this advance manuscript. If you are a Net Galley member, this is available now upon request until the end of August 2016 when it will be published. Did the pheromones released influence my rating? You bet!
This book, set in Houston in 1952, is one of a group of related books (not really a series) about the extended Holland family. In this book, jealousy is the initial catalyst for the problems of 17-year-old Aaron Holland Broussard and his best friend Saber Bledsoe, but from the time Aaron rescues Valerie Epstein from her jealous boyfriend the boys are plunged into a world of mobsters, molls, drug dealers, pedophiles, bad cops and particularly troublesome father/son relationships.
It is not necessary to have read any of the other Holland books in order to enjoy this one. As usual, the author's elegant use of language is a pleasure to read even if the story is not terribly plausible. I think mobsters are more likely to murder their prey than to play with it, but then what do I know? Aaron is a good character, wise beyond his years, but it is the emotionally needy, impulsive character of Saber who could break your heart.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
The main characters in pretty much all of James Lee Burke’s novels suffer from a malfunction in the inhibitory capacity of their brains. Maybe they all have suffered trauma to their frontal lobes (perhaps a railroad tamping iron blown through their skulls e.g. Phineas Gage) because the filters that should stop them from blurting out in a socially unacceptable way work as well as the filters on a 20 year-old Florida air conditioner that have never been changed.
Burke’s newest novel, The Jealous Kind, tells the story of Aaron Holland Broussard and his inability to just zip it as he encounters numerous hoodlums, gangsters, and killers in 1952 Houston, Texas. Like a particularly vicious strain of vocal dysentery, Aaron has absolutely no ability to stop antagonizing the threatening riffraff that give him chance after chance to just leave them alone.
But conflict is something that Burke can write, and write very well and the clashes in his newest book are as great as anything he has written. The dialogue is funny and mean, and the danger is real. You can easily picture the raised hackles, flowing testosterone, and aggressive posturing (like clashing peacocks) as 17 year-old Aaron goes head to head with rich kid (in league with the mob) Grady Harrelson.
The story concerns numerous hostile engagements as Aaron and his friends—including the beautiful Valerie Epstein and best bud, Saber, poke and prod an angry beehive of Mafia hit men; the corrupt, established, and very wealthy Harrelson family; and dishonest cops. There is a missing pink Cadillac full of money and gold that the bad guys feel Aaron and his friends know the location of thrown into the mix as well as some arson, murder, and a copious amount of ducktail hairstyles. Just beneath all the mayhem is a sense of a culture recently returned from the European theater of World War Two that is still shell-shocked by the violence it has encountered.
Burke is one of the greatest writers out there working currently and The Jealous Kind does not disappoint. It is a fast moving and fun novel that addresses such topics as class warfare, racial inequality, and violence vs. honor in a fast paced and very enjoyable read. It is always an occasion to celebrate when Burke releases another of his fantastic works of art, and The Jealous Kind should give many readers the reason to revel in delight.
This was actually my first James Lee Burke book. I've read several of his daughter's books, I've even met her. Sad, it's taken me this long to find him.
What a great book this was! This book was full of everything. Action, heart, love, nostalgia, evil, honesty, goodness, innocence, rebellion, the mob, I mean the list just goes on. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The fact that it was based in Houston also added to my appeal. While the time period was 40 years before I got here, it was kind of educational and interesting to learn a little history while reading fiction.
Of course, it was action packed and the pages were just flying past. An excellent read and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Huge thanks to Simon and Schuster for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing the free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
James Lee Burke’s recent crime novel centers around two teenage boys growing up in early ’50s Houston and in an alternative (but no less real) America, worlds away from the nostalgic, halcyon ’50s America that some still determinedly claim encompassed true American greatness. But Aaron Holland Broussard and his sometime sidekick, Saber Bledsoe, are no Spin and Marty; the attractive Valerie Epstein (Aaron’s soon-to-be girlfriend) is definitely no Annette Funicello; and the world of gangs, class conflict and racism, and mobsters that they negotiate is no teenagers’ summer camp.
Undergirding the singularly eventful plot is Burke’s familiar struggle between good and evil, between the rich and unscrupulous and the righteous and principled. Occasionally the good guys require a little suspension of disbelief: “For Saber”—a poor, renegade, trickster-type high-school-dropout-wannabee—“it was similar to Charlemagne fighting his way up the canyons of Roncevaux Pass.” (Um…OK…Maybe Saber reeelly took to medieval history.) Loren Nichols, a particularly interesting and attractive pechuco ex-con rival-turned-ally of Aarons, ends up reading—and liking--The Song of Rolland, which his new friend has lent him. There is also something super-heroic about these teenagers and the extent of their exploits, but the poetry in the prose makes it work (at least for me).
Curiously, I find nothing particularly fictitious about the bad guys, “who went to military school because their parents don’t want them”; who “flaunt your power and gloat at your misuse of it”; who “see humor in the suffering of others”; who “have the tongue and the instincts of both the coward and the bully. One day these men will realize you dishonor everything they stand for.” (Or quite possibly they won’t—or will choose not to.)
I've only met a couple of 17 year old boys with clear thinking and solid judgement that are stable in their decision making. So add James Lee Burke's protagonist to that list. If you trust James Lee Burke like I do, you roll with it. One is not likely going to find in real life a 17 yr old boy that is an excellent detective but it works in this novel. Very quick and entertaining read that I would highly recommend for pure enjoyment, not necessarily for posterity.
James Lee Burke writes the kind of novels that demand to be read more than once, and “The Jealous Kind” is a consummate example of that. I read his books the first time for the engrossing plot, the richness of his language, and the evocative descriptions of particular times and places. Subsequent readings provide me the opportunity to contemplate and reflect upon themes common to his books - the nature of evil, fear, jealousy, betrayal, and violence. This understanding of violence is further deepened by his references to medieval mythology and the Civil War. The themes of evil and violence are counterbalanced by his profound insights into matters of love, loyalty, courage, and redemption. In the acknowledgments Burke states that he believes “The Jealous Kind” is one of the best books he’s written and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s a magnificent and transcendent novel, and the epilogue is one of the most haunting and uplifting I’ve read in quite some time. Those who bypass James Lee Burke’s novels because they consider them genre fiction are doing themselves a great disservice. Burke creates some of the finest literary fiction I’ve had the pleasure of reading.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book.
The Jealous Kind is book two of the Holland Family Saga by James Lee Burke. Aaron Holland life was un-eventfull until he saves Valerie's life from her violent boyfriend. The readers of Jealous Kind will follow the changes and consequence for Aaron and Valerie due to that one eventful night on the beach. Also, the readers will follow the investigation of who killed Loren's cousin.
The Jealous Kind is the first book I read of James Lee Burke. I enjoy it but not sure I will read another book by James Lee Burke. The reason for this I never fully got involved with the plot. James Lee Burke does write and portrays his characters well. The plot of The Jealous Kind flows smoothly from one situation to another. However, I was let down and surprise with the conclusion of this book.
Readers of Jealous Kind will start to think about the effects of being jealous of someone for you and everyone around you. Also, readers of Jealous Kind will learn about living in The USA in the 1950's.
Reading is very individual, and someone will enjoy The Jealous Kind more than me. Due to this, I will recommend this book.
Purported to be James Lee Burke's favorite book he has written, The Jealous Kind was a ninety degree turn from his Robicheaux novels. Set in 1950s Houston, it is very nostalgic and involves young love, punks and crime. I fell into the book and the time period and I'm glad I took a chance on it!
Burke tells a good story and really pulls you in. I did want to have all the plot lines untangled. That being said, the writing is sometimes overly heated and the plot all over the place. Neither Aaron or Valerie seems to be a 17-year-old. Aaron would appear to be trying to get a do-gooder Boy Scout patch at times. None of the parents strike me as being particularly reliable. Saber is the stereotypical friend from the wrong side of the tracks who gets sketchier and sketchier as the plot goes on. He seems genetically incapable of not poking the hornet's nest, and Aaron is right behind him in that aspect. How Aaron jumps to judgments about Jenks and Cisco and to the conclusion they used to be an item is kind of incredible.
DNF at 25%. This book really was not for me. I am certain it will appeal to other readers (just have a look at the other reviews for proof), but I did not enjoy this at all. I disliked the main character, the insta-love got on my nerves within a few pages and I couldn't even tell you what the book might be about. This combined with a style of writing that seems overwrought to me made me dread having to pick it up. So I stopped reading it.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a chance to read and review.
One of the best from James Lee Burke. I'm growing to love his standalone, or 'flashback' novels more than the regular series. This one has some wonderful characters and a tremendous sense of place and history.
The Jealous Kind (Holland Family Saga, #2) by James Lee Burke.
When I think of authors who have co- authors listed on the cover of their books...I never think of J.L.B. When I think of authors That have books that fade in substance...I never think of J.L.B.
When I think of authors that plagiarize from books in a bygone era...I never think of J.L.B.
I requested this book believing it was an addition to the Dave Robicheaux series that I hadn't read. It is not, but I am so appreciative of this author for writing it.
Aaron is a 17 year old approaching manhood. His decision to rescue Val from an abusive situation may have been his first step. The events and characters involved leave the reader with no time to take a break. Every page is captivating.
This is a must read. I listened to it read by Will Patton. You can depend on Will to bring the depth and unique qualities of each character to life. Another excellent performance.
I read every book James Lee Burke has written about his Dave Robicheaux character and most of his other works. I remember his Aaron Holland Broussard character in a couple of those books and he is an interesting character by far. I like how this book tells of the early beginnings of who Aaron will be and he is the stand up kind of guy James Lee Burke always writes about. In this story we learn of Aaron's first love and his indoctrination into manhood along with his lessons on life and how it is not always fair. Aaron and his best friend cross paths with the tough guys and the story takes off from there. There is a little bit of mob mentality, some 50's style gang types, early drug use along with the older fem' fatale thrown in as well. Great read. I would like to thank the Publisher and Net Galley for the chance to read this ARC.
This novel is mind-blowingly great. It reminded me of James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause, but with the depth and background that a great novelist can inject into a story. Set in 1952 Houston, it is a story of a high school kid, Aaron Broussard, his encounters with rich punks from the other side of town, his run-ins with leather-jacketed hoodlums, corrupt police, and a continuing descent into a world of mobsters and double-crossers. His world-bending romance with the most beautiful young girl in town and lifelong friendship with another kid sets him on a collision course with jealous suitors connected with the underworld. He juxtaposes his encounters with tough guys with his father's service in the war and his courage. In many ways, its as if the curtains were lifted and he can see how evil has reared its ugly head. This is written in absolutely tremendous prose and there are so many great phrases in this story. Without going into too much detail, it is far more than a simple coming-of-age story and is simply a tremendous post-war classic.
James Lee Burke is probably my favorite author. He takes me places I've never been, and inspires us to visit places we might otherwise never go. He creates images that are vivid and compelling, so compelling that we have made two family trips based on prior books by JLB.
My first James Lee Burke was A Morning for Flamingos and it packed such a wallop I've never forgotten it. His descriptions are full of changing light and the way it strikes the leaves, changing in the winds; he describes billowing thunderstorms roaring in and rain droplets hitting the Bayou Teche. You don't have to love his characters, you just have to let go and enter into a very different world from your own.
AMFF is in the Dave Robicheaux series; things in the Holland family books get more complicated. The Jealous kind bills itself as the second book in the Holland family saga, but there are a whole bunch of other Holland family stories out there, and Burke's second most memorable book, for me, is Feast Day for Fools , with Hackberry Holland, describing a life full of the bleak beauty of the Texas borderlands, illegal immigration and drug smuggling, so compelling that it inspired a second family trip to see the area for ourselves.
The Jealous Kind is equally compelling, although I don't feel a trip to Houston coming on. This book is less about the geography or natural beauty and more about relationships. It's odd, and a little painful, to be in the head of a 17 year old boy in the summer between his junior and senior year, and in love for the first time. The 1950's Houston Burke describes is socially and racially stratified. Burke hates arrogance. He hates arrogant rich people and he hates arrogant criminals, neither of whom have any compassion on those whose lives they disrupt and destroy, often with oblivion. Some of his villains are so wicked and unpredictable that I was in constant fear that harm would befall the hero's three lovable cats and his dog.
What I love about Burke's heroes is that they are so flawed, and so aware of their own flaws. They can be awkward. They often say the wrong thing. They rarely just walk away from trouble. At their very core, they are loyal, and brave; they stick by their friends, they defend the weak, and they stand up for what is right. Burke takes odd elements and weaves a story you can't put down: flawed and broken families where love abides, nightmare situations out of control, summer romance, threads from WWII and the Korean War, great music, and the endless fight between good and evil. Ya gotta love James Lee Burke.
"You had to find the courage in yourself; no-one could pay your dues for you"
Set in 1950s Texas, this is a sprawling tale of class, masculinity and violence. Aaron and Saber are in their last year in high school when they come into conflict with the bad side of town in the shape of the Mafia and their sons. And alongside this, Aaron has fallen in love for the first time.
I enjoyed this but it's very different from the New Orleans novels by Burke. Aaron is a mix of romantic kid and moral man, hovering in the space of transition that is adolescence. There's almost a kind of mythic feel about the book, and lots of references to men finding their courage, whether in the first or second world wars or the war in Korea which is taking place in the background. A sprawling, sometimes slightly overlong tale but with important, radiant moments that light the book.
"Two stars?" you ask? JLB is one of my favorite authors. I'd like to flatter myself thinking he and I could have some great conversations. I respect this man's mind! So I have to be honest with my review.
As always, I savor end JLB's insights into human nature, his use of vocabulary, his grittiness when grittiness was the reality and tenderness and humanity likewise.
I didn't buy it that a 17 yr old kid and his collection of friends could do the things they did. There were gaps in "who and why?"
Aaron is the youngest protagonist JLB has ever built a story around. Aaron is too young for this story. It just does not equate. No matter how cool a Texas dude he is, it just doesn't work for me.