New York Times bestselling author James Lee Burke brings readers a captivating tale of justice, love, brutality, and mysticism set in the turbulent 1960s.
The American West in the early 1960s appears to be a pastoral golden wheat fields, mist-filled canyons, frolicking animals. Aspiring novelist Aaron Holland Broussard has observed it from the open door of a boxcar, riding the rails for both inspiration and odd jobs.
Jumping off in Denver, he finds work on a farm and meets Joanne McDuffy, an articulate and fierce college student and gifted painter. Their soul connection is immediate, but their romance is complicated by Joanne’s involvement with a shady professor who is mixed up with a drug-addled cult. When a sinister businessman and his son who wield their influence through vicious cruelty set their sights on Aaron, drawing him into an investigation of grotesque murders, it is clear that this idyllic landscape harbors tremendous power—and evil. Followed by a mysterious shrouded figure who might not be human, Aaron will have to face down all these foes to save the life of the woman he loves and his own.
The latest installment in James Lee Burke’s masterful Holland family saga, Another Kind of Eden is both riveting and one of Burke’s most ambitious works to date. It dismantles the myths of both the twentieth-century American West and the peace-and-love decade, excavating the beauty and idealism of the era to show the menace and chaos that lay simmering just beneath the surface.
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.
In a novel full of power and intensity, we are introduced to Aaron Holland Broussard an aspiring writer who is exploring the American West by hopping on freight trains. It’s the early 1960s and he’s currently working on a farm in Colorado. Aaron is a troubled man, plagued by nightmares, prone to non-substance induced blackouts and tormented by guilt over the death of a close friend in Korea. We also meet a feast of other interesting characters, including the beautiful Joanne McDuff, who works at a café in the small town nearby, Rueben Vickers and his son and Darrel, who are couple of local bullies, and a school bus full of drug taking travellers.
A number of sickening murders have taken place in the vicinity, typically these appear to be of prostitutes. Furthermore, the local lawman believes that his granddaughter was, some time ago, murdered by a serial killer and he has his suspicions regarding the Vickers family. He attempts to enlist the help of Aaron, who recently had a run in with Rueben, to do some snooping around. But Aaron’s attention is focussed on Joanne: he is attracted to her and she to him, but the situation is complicated by the fact that she already seems to be in some kind of a relationship with her art professor. It all adds up to a very combustible state of affairs and soon it all kicks off.
The interplay between many of the players is described by way of a series of terse encounters. Conversations between this group are almost universally harsh and sometimes difficult to interpret. But anyone familiar with Burke’s work won’t be surprised by this, it’s the way he always presents his stories. However, what may come as a surprise is the fact that here he chooses to include significant elements of magic realism in his story. This isn’t the first time he’s done this, of course, he’s used this device in a number of his Dave Robicheaux books, but never in such a pivotal way.
Reading any James Lee Burke novel is an experience: his prose is distinctive, his vocabulary extensive and his extravagant turns of phrase extraordinary. At times he makes you feel that you’re reading a long poem. His descriptions of people and places are often lengthy, comprising colours and smells and comparisons as they paint startlingly vivid pictures. Here, as often before, he provides images that are often dark and disturbing but as his narrative progresses his thoughts sometimes turn wistful as he recalls memories of the best of times. There is both darkness and light here, but in truth it’s mainly darkness. He writes of the battle between good and evil, often in an almost biblical way, and you sense that you will be led to a final conflict to rival that of Armageddon.
From the outset the author challenges the reader to accept the incredible, to embrace the possibility of the events he is about to describe. It’s most certainly a wild ride and don’t expect all of the loose ends to be neatly tied off, but if you can accommodate Burke’s wish you’ll be treated to an experience that only one of the finest literary voices out there can provide.
My thanks to Simon & Schuster for supplying a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.
There are more moveable parts in the human psyche than there are words to describe each tiny mechanism.
James Lee Burke offers a panoramic view of what lies at the heart of evil. Another Kind of Eden takes us into the depths of darkness in which individuals dwell by choice and by action. People with dead eyes and dead souls who seriously believe that there is no accountability for deeds done. And the scope widens with the realities of War where the masses decide your fate in an instant.
Aaron Holland Broussard is a complicated man. He walks the higher road in life, but he painfully is aware of the dark places within his head. The Korean War and the loss of his best friend weigh heavily upon him. Some days he works through it and some days it works through him. Aaron has moments where the memories may be real or may be imagined. It's getting harder and harder to separate them.
It's 1962 and Aaron views a blur of boxcar scenery. He jumps out at Trinidad, Colorado and takes a job loading the last of the tomato crop on Jude Lowry's farm. He and Lowry have found a working relationship alongside workers Spud and Cotton. Lowry is a WW I Medal of Honor recipient. Cotton served in WW II and received the Silver Star. Spud from East Kentucky can talk your ear off. Those who serve usually fail to speak of it.
But one evening in Trinidad, Aaron, Spud, and Cotton are attacked by a group of men as they exit a cafe after dinner. The three are beaten brutally and the sheriff throws them in jail for disorderly conduct. Not a sign of the perpetrators though. But we'll meet up with them later. Aaron does meet up with the waitress from the cafe and she discloses the names of the bad guys. And here is where Aaron falls hard for Jo Anne and Jo Anne will inadvertently be a conduit that leads to those unspeakable bottom feeders of life.
James Lee Burke is one of my favorite authors. He can vividly paint background scenery in just a few strokes. His best characters are usually those who have deep aches in their bones and an emptiness so ingrained that there is very little water left in the well. His passages almost beg to be re-read and savored in the moment. Another Kind of Eden speaks to societal ills that linger and stay from generation to generation. You'll recognize them as they surface throughout. True realism and magical realism meet on the playing field of life......
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Simon & Schuster and the highly talented James Lee Burke.
A glimpse of an unseen world. You will not want to tarry for long, as it is pulsing with evil. Entrenched in a box canyon with an evil man at the helm. A faded yellow school bus filled with a cult-like crew, stoned out, one staring with "mindless blue eyes". A Puritan hat. The always disturbing all-seeing eyes on a fanned out peacock tail. Weaponry that seems to take on a life of its own. And what is it about the hooded figure, standing in the pouring rain, shrouded by mist and looking at you without a face?
There just doesn't seem to be much room here for a stand up fellow like Aaron Holland Broussard. He doesn't shy away from good hard work, isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. At the end of the day, nothing would please him more than to go home to a loving family. This would be his own kind of Eden, but it may be out of his reach here.
In "Another Kind of Eden," Burke offers us a tale of the sun-drenched west that offers few answers to the question of what the distance is between Heaven and Hell, and between madness and sanity. Wrapped in poetic imagery, we get a tale about a drifter riding the rails to Trinidad, Colorado, in 1962, trying to loose a past that just keeps creeping up on him through holes in his memory. Like Biblical thunder, good and evil are mixed together in this small ranching town where a bully seems to rule with an iron fist.
No matter where Broussard travels though, he bears his heavy burdens with him. For him, there's no peace nowhere, not in his head, not in his hands, not in his thoughts. Not even the love of a good woman, JoAnne, can lighten his load. The war in Korea is just as real and now as it ever was. A parallel exists in the schoolbus with the hippies, stoned and crazy, but halfway between Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters and Manson's tribe. No one here can shake off their pasts. No one walks free and easy and we all have to bear our burdens ultimately alone. For JoAnne, it's perhaps her father whisked awY in a tornado and never seen again. For others, it's their deeds or what their family members did that they can't wash their hands of.
Burke's work is honestly quite amazing and this one grips you and doesn't let go, although reality and madness sometimes mix here in quite strange ways. A stranger coming into a small town and turning it upside down is not a new idea, but this story takes it to quite a different level, indeed.
I can't envision, as long as I'm here on God's green earth, a time when I would give this author's books anything less than a four star rating. For me, he is a master at using words to describe scenes so thoroughly, I'm transported into the novel. He gives the reader characters that are multi-faceted, have strong moral codes, and then presents them with situations that threaten everything they believe. How will they react? Will they fight for what they believe?
In this book his character is Aaron Holland, the third book I believe in this series, that started with Wayfaring Stranger. Aaron is a young man in his late taenties, who falls in love with a waitress in her earlier twenties. He wants, what most of us want, a good, hardworking life with the women he loves. There are, however, others who want to prevent him from accomplishing this goal. People who out of greed or want, evil people, who will use those weaker then themselves, whatever means necessary to gain for themselves what this greed demands. Now, Aaron must decide for himself, and we hear his thoughts, read his mental manueverings, if he will run or fight. But what he must confront, is not just evil men, but superstition, legend and outworldly.
The other side of Eden is hell, and the space between is thinly veiled.
This is the first James Lee Burke novel I’ve read that wasn’t part of the Dave Robicheaux Series. This is the third book of the Holland family saga. It works as a standalone. Aaron Broussard is an educated young man, an aspiring writer, who's been riding the rails and finding manual labor jobs in 1962 as he explores the country. He takes a job on the McDuffy family farm in Colorado. He quickly runs afoul of the Vickers, a father-son duo who enjoy gratuitous violence. He starts a relationship with a beautiful young painter, who has her own weird relationship with a local professor who seems to be taking advantage of her. This is an in depth character study of Aaron who has a bit of a dark past including some jail time and unexplained blackouts. It’s told with him looking back from some future date at these events. The writing is poetic at times. I found myself underlining numerous passages. The story is extremely dark with a bit of the supernatural about it. The plot involves the fight of the average man standing up to true evil. As much as I liked Burke’s writing, I can’t say the story really worked for me. The ending was very ambiguous and several questions remained unanswered. My thanks to netgalley and Simon & Schuster for an advance copy of this book.
It’s a Showdown of Good v Evil and it’s Dark, Lyrical, and Hard-Fought!
I’ve always wanted to read James Lee Burke’s novel and with “Another Kind of Eden,” I got the chance to do exactly that and I took it! A slow burner from the start, it’s the characters here that seep deep into your soul and get you and get you good.
The year is 1962, the place is Trinidad, Colorado.
Aaron Holland Broussard is a drifter, a wanderer if you will, educated, quiet and kind. A hard worker and a veteran who has plenty of demons he simply can’t outrun. When he winds up at a farm in Colorado, he finds himself immediately embroiled in trouble. Falling for a beauty, named Joanne, he knows he should stay away from, but simply can’t; enmeshed in an investigation over a few mysterious murders; conflict finds him, time and again.
Other farm hands may be involved, including the owner of the farm, and the professor who was enjoying Joanne’s company before Aaron came along.
Through it all, Aaron has an instinct, a need to survive as well as a need to fight for what he wants and what he believes is right. The past however comes back to bite and some people’s burdens are quite heavy.
A very different, heartbreakingly honest, and real portrayal of good v evil.
Expressive, emotional, and a little mystical, “Another Kind of Eden” was wholly unexpected. While it was a slow burn and took me a while to get into, the character development and the storyline here were both stellar. I think fans of James Lee Burke will love this! Though this was my first book by this author, I don’t feel like I missed out at all and therefore think this worked very well as a standalone. 3.5 Stars
Thank you to Simon & Schuster, NetGalley, and James Lee Burke for the arc.
Twenty-six-year old Aaron Holland Broussard grew up in Texas, fought in the Korean war, studied journalism at the University of Missouri, and wrote a novel that he's submitted to publishers. Aaron is now riding the rails out West, absorbing experiences for his next book.
The story opens in 1962, when Aaron hops off a train in Colorado and gets a job on Mr. Jude Lowry's farm near the town of Trinidad.
There's a bunkhouse full of employees, and a general sense of camaraderie and friendship.
However, Aaron's closest co-workers are Spud Caudhill - a homely man who has a passion for dago red wine and prostitutes;
and Cotton Williams - who has long gray hair, an unseeing white eye, and a liking for comic books.
Aaron is intelligent, well-spoken, and compassionate, but he has disquiet in his soul.
Aaron feels guilty about the death of his best friend Saber Bledsoe in Korea; he's lost a girl he thought was the love of his life; and he suffers from non-alcoholic blackouts, during which he becomes belligerent and violent. Thus Aaron tries to keep a tight rein on his anger, to avoid killing someone.
Trouble starts when Mr. Lowry sends Aaron, Spud, and Cotton to Trinidad with a load of tomatoes. A United Farm Workers bumper sticker on the truck gets Aaron and his friends beat up by four goons.....
.....and instead of going after the ruffians, Sheriff Wade Benbow jails Aaron, Spud, and Cotton overnight.
It turns out Benbow wants Aaron to help him catch a serial rapist who's killed several girls, including Benbow's granddaughter. Benbow thinks the killer works on Mr. Lowry's farm, and he wants Aaron to spy on his fellow workers.
In the meantime, a pretty waitress named Jo Anne McDuffy gets in touch with Aaron. She tells him the men who beat him up were led by a creep called Darrel Vickers, son of wealthy bigwig Rueben Vickers. Jo Anne says both Vickers' are buckets of shit and Aaron should stay away from them.
Aaron is immediately attracted to Jo Anne.....
.....and learns she's a painter studying under art professor Henri Devos.
Aaron meets Devos and hates him on sight, thinking he's a smarmy predator that wants to take advantage of Jo Anne. Aaron and Devos compete for Jo Anne's attention, and the girl seems torn between them.
Burke's books always pit good against evil, and - from this point on - Aaron is plagued by sinister forces.
Rueben Vickers shows up at the Lowry farm, enraged about his son Darrel being accused of assault.
One thing leads to another and Rueben repeatedly lashes Aaron's face with a quirt, after which Aaron tells Rueben 'you have a black soul, you're a bully, and you carry an incubus that will cost you your soul.' This deeply affects the old bully, and - as it turns out - preys on his mind. Further encounters between Aaron and the Vickers' escalate the situation.
Aaron falls hard for Jo Anne.....
.....and is upset that she lets Henri Devos hang around her house. Moreover, the professor brings a busload of penniless hippies and thugs, who park on Jo Anne's property, plug into her electric line, eat her food, etc.
Aaron has a run-in with the miscreants, and - later on - a violent confrontation with Devos.
As in some of Burke's other books, the story has elements of magical realism. Aaron talks to ghosts.....
....and has an encounter with supernatural entities that are malevolent and dangerous.
All this leads to a momentous climax that unveils shocking secrets.
Burke's talent for depicting landscape and atmosphere is unsurpassed, and his evil characters belong in a place worse than hell. I enjoyed the book, my one quibble being that Burke's books all seem to follow the same paradigm.....evil forces threatening good people.
I'd recommend the book to fans of James Lee Burke and readers who enjoy mystery and/or horror stories.
Thanks to Netgalley, James Lee Burke, and Simon and Schuster for a copy of the book.
Aaron Holland Broussard is a 26 year old drifter with a lot of baggage. He has guilt over his wartime experiences, he has periodic blackouts and both psychological and alcohol-related problems and he hasn’t been able to get his book published. After he meets Jo Anne, a 20 year old artist/student/ waitress, he becomes completely besotted with her. Frankly, his reverence for her was kind of creepy and patronizing. The book also features a menacing father/son team, a dying sheriff, a bus load of hippies, murdered prostitutes, illegal drugs, a seductive employer and (maybe) ghosts. I had to read the last chapter twice, and I’m still not sure how all of this was wound up.
I love this author’s writing style. It’s full of unique descriptions and images (“Spud was a good soul, as homely as mud, as socially sophisticated as a dirty sock floating in a punch bowl.”) I listened to the audiobook narrated by Will Patton, and he is the perfect narrator for Burke’s books. Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of my favorite books by him. It became increasingly melodramatic and I didn’t really care for the supernatural touches. Burke has written about members of the Holland family in other books, but it is not necessary to read any of those books before reading this one. However, I don’t think this should be your first experience with this author. Try “Wayfaring Stranger” or one of the Dave Robicheaux books instead. 3.5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Aspiring novelist Aaron Holland Broussard rides the rails in 1960 America searching for inspiration and odd jobs. His latest stop in Trinidad, Colorado leads to a job on a local farm and an entree into the local community. And what a community it is: the Sheriff is obsessed with a supposed serial killer, Joanne, the beautiful graduate art student Aaron instantly falls for, and the Vickers - father and son powerful businessmen and sadistic bullies. If not enough, there is a school bus full of pot smoking drugged hippies and a college professor with an odd hold on Joanne. Throw in nightmares, blackouts, a mysterious shrouded figure, guilt feelings and a horrible ritual murder and you are questioning what is real. As with all Burke novels, the reader is treated to a beautifully written novel but forced to believe. Are there rational explanations for what is going on or is it magical realism. Good and Evil battle and we must interpret the outcome. The ending comes quickly and somewhat abruptly. I was left with the certain feeling that there would be another Aaron Holland Broussard novel in the future. I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley. #NetGalley #AnotherKindofEden #JamesLeeBurke
Aaron Holland Broussard, our guide through through Another Kind of Eden, is an educated man in his 20s, working at being a writer, traveling the south and west on the rails in that faintly romantic way, jumping on empty boxcars and exiting where it looks right. This novel has elements of romance but also aspects of evil familiar to anyone who has read a James Lee Burke novel before. While this is my first time reading a book of the Holland family, I recognize themes that I have encountered reading the Dave Robicheaux novels. Aaron has damage to his soul just as Dave does.
And the prose is, as always, well done, describing battles of good versus evil or the lazily immoral, the effects of drugs in the early and growing drug culture of the 1960s, the horrors of violence and misogyny, and on and on. But also there is the beauty of the natural world, of life itself. Burke always looks at big pictures through his individual characters and their actions.
This was a 4.5* book for me rounded to 4. Recommended.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Set in 1962 this story revolves around twenty-six-year old Aaron Holland Broussard a Korean war veteran. He studied journalism at the University of Missouri and wrote a novel that he submitted to a publisher. Right now he is riding the rails and has hopped off a train in Colorado where he gets a job on Mr. Jude Lowry's farm near the town of Trinidad.
The author has a gift for describing the landscape of the West. Readers of his other works also know his stories have elements of mysticism. Aaron is intelligent, educated and compassionate but he has what today would probably be diagnosed as PTSD. His best friend, Saber Bledsoe, died at Pork Chop Hill in Korea and Aaron feels guilty. He avoids alcohol and drugs because he fears what he could do if he uses them. He has a tortured soul.
He meets Jo Anne McDuffy, a waitress and art student, and falls in love. He also confronts evil in the many other characters in this story. Henri Devos, an art professor, who is competing for Jo Anne and is mixed up with a drug-addled cult that arrive in an old school bus. There is Darrel Vickers and his wealthy father, Rueben. Everyone around Aaron seems to have some baggage. His co-workers, Spud Caudhill who has a passion for prostitutes and Cotton Williams who killed his own son. Sheriff Wade Benbow who is trying to catch a serial rapist who killed several girls, including Benbow's granddaughter, and wants Aaron's help because he believes the killer works on Mr. Lowry's farm.
The ending was rather abrupt and strange. It left me with the feeling that the author just wanted to wrap this up. Overall a good story. Not my favorite by this author.
This is one of my husband's favorite author's so I decided to give his work a try. This is the first book I've read by this author. The book absolutely is not for me! Is it because I didn't start the series at the beginning? I'm not sure. I did not make a connection with any of the characters. The story is disjointed and all over the place with a bunch of little side stories. One thing I will give him credit for is very descriptive writing, such as I've never seen before. It seemed he put more effort into his descriptions than he did into the story line itself. One thing I noticed about his writing is the words the characters speak to each other are very graphic and vulgar. I don't know if this is his regular writing style but it is not what I am looking for in a book. Though the book is not for me I know his writing is very popular so don't let my review hold you back from trying this book. My husband has read all of them besides this one and enjoys them.
Published August 17th 2021 I was given a complimentary copy of this book. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.
beautiful thriller. there are not many thrillers you can say on them - beautiful but this one absolutely yes. for me as non american it create some of the dream image of America the one of Walt Whitman & Jack kerouac and others similar. it is his ability in describing american landscape maybe long gone, creating unique atmosphere where mythic past and rough present are combined, a great plot, a sad love story and mainly the ability after 40 books to still be fresh.
Publication Date: August 17, 2021 by Simon & Schuster
A modern day morality play starring the flawed and tortured soul of Aaron Holland Broussard, haunted by the violence inherent to the Holland family line and the recurring nightmares that may or may not represent reality … especially those from the Korean War. He was an articulate twenty-six year old, trained in Journalism at the University of Missouri, but considered himself a failure. After a short stint as an English instructor, and a completed novel gathering dust in a New York agent’s office, he found himself riding the rails with the intent of doing menial farm jobs while gathering inspiration. At times he had nonalcoholic blackouts and other times fugue states … not quite knowing what represented reality. He was plagued by the knowledge that those in powerful positions maintained their control by unbridled cruelty. He certainly could not fathom a reason for killing animals for sport.
In the spring of 1962 he finds himself hopping off the train in Denver, and inexplicably riding a Greyhound bus into the city of Trinidad, where he quickly hires onto the diary and produce farm of Jude Lowry. The bucolic setting is not what it seems on the surface. While the era of hippies and free love is burgeoning , along with it is the culture of drug trafficking, and union-busting. Nonetheless, Aaron finds purpose and camaraderie with two quirky and colorful bunkmates. There was Cotton Williams with silver hair down to his shoulders and his nose firmly implanted in a continuing stream of Classics Illustrated comics. His backstory involved being an active participant in the liberation of Rome from the Nazi hordes. He personally exterminated the exterminators deep in the catacombs… earning him a Silver Star. Equally likable was Spud Caudill …. “a good soul, but as homely as mud, and as socially sophisticated as a dirty sock floating in a punch bowl” … who spent most of his time thinking and pursuing women.
Their first taste of unjust power and corruption occurs when the three are sent to Trinidad with a truck load of farm goods. While eating in the local restaurant , neither Aaron or Spud can keep their eyes off the young and beautiful waitress. As they innocently made their way back to the truck, they were attacked and bludgeoned mercilessly by four men, wielding ax handles.
To their surprise, the motivation for the assault was a sticker on the rear bumper of Mr. Lowry’s truck …United Farm Workers. While at the jail for questioning , Aaron receives a message from the waitress. “You don’t know what you’re dealing with. Call me” … signed Jo Anne McDuffy.
Aaron not only calls, but insists he wants to talk in person and comes to her house. She informs him the attack was led by Darrel Vickers on behalf of his powerful father , Ruben Vickers. He is well known locally for his penchant for cruelty to maintain control, as well as to humiliate and degrade. While at Jo Anne’s house, he asks to view her paintings, and is met with her statement: “I paint things that not many people care about” … all are extrapolations of photographs taken after the 1914 Ludlow Massacre involving women, children and the local miners. Aaron describes his impressions: “…the canvas had become an entryway into a ragged pit in the earth where eleven children and two women were assembled like a church choir, their heads shaped like darning socks, backdropped by smoke and flames, their mouths black holes, their screams trapped under the paint ….” Aaron enters into an ill advised and troubled courtship with Jo Anne that has far reaching complications and the inevitable confrontation with the Vickers.
Just one example of gems placed in the mouths of his multifaceted characters: “I hate people who flaunt violence and take pleasure speaking of it. They belong to a culture of cowards and misogynists … every one of them is cruel and a spiritual failure… The louder their rhetoric, the more craven their behavior …”
James Lee Burke crafts a masterful complex and convoluted tale involving power, greed, cruelty, and mental illness , as well as, love and justice. Utilizing lyrical prose and complicated and well fleshed out multiplicity of characters he resolves his exciting denouement with the introduction of the supernatural and mysticism that one wonders where reality ends. Although Burke has written other tales involving the Holland family, this captivating and gritty journey can be enjoyed and devoured as a standalone. Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review.
( at readers remains.com AND Mystery and Suspense Magazine )
James Lee Burke is a living legend, a novelist who’s won just about every prize there is, and whose published work has spanned more than fifty years. My thanks go to Net Galley and Simon and Schuster for the invitation to read and review. This book is for sale now.
Another Kind of Eden is a prequel to Burke’s Holland family trilogy. The time is the 1960s, and protagonist Aaron Holland Broussard is in Colorado working a summer job. He falls in love with a waitress named JoAnne, but there are obstacles to their happiness everywhere he looks. There’s a charismatic professor that won’t leave her alone, a bus full of drugged-out young people that have fallen under his influence, and of course, there’s corruption among the local wealthy residents, which is a signature feature in Burke’s work. Aaron is a Vietnam veteran, and he has residual guilt and grief that get in his way as well. He’s got some sort of a dissociative disorder, though I am not sure that’s the term used; at any rate, he blacks out parts of his life and cannot remember them. He also has anger issues, and he melts down from time to time; there’s an incident involving a gun that he forces a man to point at him that I will never get entirely out of my head, and kind of wish I hadn’t read.
I had a hard time rating this novel. If I stack it up against the author’s other titles, it is a disappointment; a lot of the plot elements and other devices feel recycled from his other work, dressed up a bit differently. But if I pretend that this is written by some unknown author, then I have to admit it’s not badly written at all. By the standards of Burke’s other work, it’s a three star book; compared to most other writers, it’s somewhere on the continuum between four and five. Since I have to come up with something, I decided to call it four stars.
All that being said, if you have never read anything by this luminary, I advise you to start with one of his earlier books--almost any of them, actually.
I have never read anything by this author before but I received an advanced readers copy from a friend who owns a bookstore and just doesn’t have time to read all of the books that are sent to her. She wanted my opinion as to whether she should stock this in her shop. My initial response would be absolutely not. This is one of the worst books I’ve ever read. I’m not sure where all of the high praises are coming from. Someone mentioned how skilled he was with imagery , I’m not sure about that but he did seem to put forth more effort to describe the colors of the sky eloquently than he put into the rest of the book. In my opinion, this book suffers from a severe case of A.D.D. and under-editing. The story itself had potential but it was so laden with cheesy lines, pointless information and a lack of focus that the story was lost. It wasn’t believable, it didn’t make sense often, and I couldn’t connect with any of it. I didn’t believe that he and the waitress were in love because it just didn’t feel real. There were so many side stories about murders and natives, and his bosses wife trying to seduce him that it was completely scattered and just missed the mark. Again, my initial reaction is to tell her not to waste precious space on this book, however, a bookstore’s goal is to sell books and based on the reviews for this book and his many others, for some reason, people seem to like him.
I am amazed at the number of great books one author can produce. James Lee Burke is one of those that always can tell a good story. I have yet to read a bad book by this favorite author of mine. Another Kind of Eden is a story in the series about the Holland family and it covers a harsh rural setting in the 1960s. We get to follow Aaron Holland Broussard working as a farmhand and how he meets a girl. Everything is far from clear in this story, there is darkness surrounding the community and the people in it. Someone is murdering girls and there seems to be drugs flowing through somehow. I must thank @this_is_edelweiss and @simonandschuster for letting me read this advance copy. Out in stores August 17th I also want to thank @jamesleeburke for still writing great stories. Well done sir.
No-one describes the dark side of the American west more eloquently or elegantly than James Lee Burke. This novel features another of the Holland clan, Aaron Holland Broussard. An educated man, Korean War veteran and aspiring novelist who has chosen the life of a drifter; travelling from coast to coast and taking odd jobs to scrape by, whilst still hoping one of his books will be published. He seems to be at least temporarily settled at Mr. and Mrs. Lowry’s farm in Colorado alongside Spud Caudill and Cotton Williams, with whom he has a distant yet amicable relationship. He even falls in love with waitress and gifted artist Jo Anne McDuffy. Yet, trouble is not far away in the shape of a sinister professor, a Manson-like cult, a ruthless businessman and his psychopathic son. Once again, Aaron finds himself having to face horrors he’d sooner forget, but knows he never will. A shorter novel than usual from James Lee Burke, but as masterful as ever.
In my Goodreads review of the last Robicheaux book, A Private Cathedral, I wrote that I was tiring of the antics of “The Bobbsey Twins from Homicide.” This book, although not a Robicheaux novel, reminds me why. The protagonist of Another Kind Of Eden, Aaron Holland Broussard, reminds me of what Dave has been slouching towards for years now. Both men are written as being praised as “kind and brave” but both books are filled with incoherent ramblings and violent actions that neither man seems to be able to contain, and perhaps only understood in hindsight. But hindsight grows weary. Clete and Dave and Aaron are the recipients of lavish praise, deemed as righteous men, but I’ve not seen evidence that they deserve it anymore. These men seemed filled with smarmy moralizing while committing terrible acts, criminal and immoral, and escaping retribution because the harm they do is to men worse than they are. I also wrote in my review of A Private Cathedral that Burke might have been reading John Connolly’s Charlie Parker books. (They are apparently great admirers of each other’s works, according to stories I’ve read). In Another Kind of Eden, the spookiness gets wildly out of hand. With the Connolly books you can buy into this with a certain suspension of disbelief because Connolly has been building this for years and the ghosts and wraiths have a well-established presence. But when a ghost appears to hand over a M1 rifle to Aaron and the rifle begins to move like a snake, I got bounced right out of this bad book. Is Burke finally prepared to cross over entirely into the supernatural? I don’t know, but I do know I will not follow him there.
I received an eARC of this title from the publisher through NetGalley.
I kept seeing books by James Lee Burke and the description of this one really pulled me in. This was brilliantly written, as Burke's prose is breathtaking at times and always engaging. The story itself didn't really grab me though, and I felt it was more literary than I needed at the time. Still, the author's way with words makes the characters stick with you after finishing..
I love James Lee Burke's writing as much as I am entranced by his plots and this latest is no exception. He has a particular style and rhythm to his words that is instantly recognizable and oddly comforting, especially when he's writing about violence and dark things,. Aaron Holland Broussard, a Korean War vet with mental health issues and a former professor, is now working as a farm laborer in Colorado. A chance meeting with Jo Anne, a waitress, and an evil father-son duo sets him off into a maelstrom of events that will at times make you ask why he doesn't just leave town. Except he's fallen in love. Unfortunately, Jo Anne is involved with her art professor and there's a bus load of drug addled people in her back yard. And there's murders in the area, Burke writes vivid characters- you'll be able to visualize the Sheriff, his equally troubled coworkers, and others- but he soars with atmospherics and landscapes. Know that there are ghosts and that the big showdown might be a bit confusing (it was for me) but there are great pleasures here. There's also a line near the end about Broussard's books that might make long time readers think a bit about Burke himself. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. This will be fine as a standalone- new readers will find themselves seeking out more- and his fans will be pleased as well.
I love the books of James Lee Burke but this one did not work for me at all. A small amount of the Supernatural works with an ageing Dave Robicheaux as he reaches the end of his life but in this book it felt wrong. The whole climax of the book depends on suspending belief with snakes that become guns (I guess that is how the M1 appears), ghosts of long dead comrades and demons that fly so on. In fact the ending never reaches any sort of solution that is half way believable. The Charlie Manson type bus was years too early and the characters were ill defined. Who actually killed the hippie chick and do I really care anymore? I am glad it was so short or else I would have given up.
If you think of James Lee Burke as only a mystery writer read this book. This book is full of a writing that will change your mind and give you a much better appreciation for Burke and his writing.
This novel is considered one of the Holland series, although it could easily stand alone. The story takes place in the American West around the 1960’s. It is the story of a college educated writer who has written a book but has not found a publisher for it. He has taken to the road and finds himself working as a ranch hand in A small town outside Denver,
He finds himself falling in love and at the same time coming at odds with a family. He is a pacifist but just can’t seem to stay out of trouble, especially over the girl he has fallen love with. He fights off his own mental demons while dealing with people that are causing him mental anguish.
True to form, Burke brings in the spiritual with hippies and flying demons. This does make the story more interesting and gives the reader food for thought, a little like some of the Dave Robicheaux novels.
This is a real trip of a book that probably has limited appeal as there are not that many of us old hippies around anymore that can get into this saga. It's been many a year since I used the expression, but I do have to say "far out, man!" But...did he have to continue with the smearing of feces throughout the storyline? I'm feeling a tad off the mark after reading the book. Yup, this is not the typical James Lee Burke book featuring Robicheaux.
Burke, of course, is one of the most gifted writers we have. May he continue.
Another Kind of Eden is the second book in James Lee Burke’s Aaron Holland Broussard series, following Broussard’s introduction in the 2016 novel The Jealous Kind. Burke fans may remember that Burke first started writing about the Holland family in 1971 with his first Hackberry Holland novel, Lay Down My Sword and Shield - although he did not add a second Hackberry Holland novel until 2009. In the meantime, Burke began his Billy Bob Holland books, the first of which, Cimarron Rose won the 1997 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel. In addition to these, Burke has now written two Weldon Holland novels and the two featuring Aaron Holland Broussard. All told, novels featuring these four branches of the Holland family now total twelve.
The Jealous Kind, set in 1950s Houston, although he barely survives it, is Aaron Holland Broussard’s coming-of-age story. By the time that Another Kind of Eden opens in early 1960s Colorado, a lot has happened to Aaron, and he has the emotional scars to prove it. Aaron is an unpublished novelist who has taken to jumping in and out of boxcars and working odd jobs to sustain himself. In Trinidad, Colorado, Aaron finds both the farm work he is seeking and the young woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Joanne McDuffy is a college student and a talented artist who does waitress work to afford the basic lifestyle she allows herself. Aaron does not have a doubt in his mind that she is the only woman meant for him.
It is obvious that the attraction is mutual, but as Aaron and Joanne will learn: there are always monsters among us. In this instance, the monsters come in the form of the disgusting professor who is intent on taking advantage of Joanne in every way imaginable and the drug-riddled cult that the older man brings into her life. If that were not bad enough, a powerful businessman and his son, both crazed by their own brand of hatred, take special delight in making Aaron’s life as miserable as possible.
All Aaron wants to do is get his novel published, convince the woman of his dreams to marry him, and earn enough money to live on until his dreams finally come true. But it will not be that simple because Aaron is a man with emotional problems of his own. He suffers from the aftermath of the terrible things that have already happened to him, and he has to endure the memory blackouts that have stolen much of his past from him. He knows that when driven to a rage, he will find it hard to stop the violence until someone, maybe him, is dead. But he never expected to end up in Hell itself.
Bottom Line: Another Kind of Eden continues the Holland family saga, but (much as with Burke’s Dave Robicheaux novels) the stories are getting darker and darker. This one requires a substantial suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader, but readers who can manage that level of disbelief-suspension are going to enjoy this one a lot.
Review Copy provided by Publisher Simon & Schuster
In ANOTHER KIND OF EDEN, James Lee Burke takes a further step in exploring the tenuous border between the physical and mystic. He has visited various aspects of this topic on a number of occasions in his long-running and iconic Dave Robicheaux series, most recently in A PRIVATE CATHEDRAL. His latest, which adds yet another chapter to his Holland family opus, takes place in Colorado in the early 1960s. It is a snapshot of the beginning of the drug-fueled counterculture movement with a nod toward the individuals who practiced the lifestyle as well as those who preyed upon them.
ANOTHER KIND OF EDEN is narrated by Aaron Holland Broussard, an aspiring but frustrated author who finds more satisfaction traveling by boxcar and working as an itinerant farmhand than laboring within the confines of the ivory towers of academia. What begins as an ordinary meal in a diner near the farm where Aaron is employed ends in violence when he and his dinner companions, both of whom work with him, are attacked by a group of locals that includes Darrel Vickers, the son of wealthy landowner Rueben Vickers.
What makes the night even more memorable for Aaron is that he meets Joanne McDuffy, a waitress who seems to have come from another time and place. He is almost immediately smitten with the woman, who is an art student at a local college and, regrettably, involved in some manner with her professor, Henri Devos, who appears to have a Svengali-like effect over her. A busload of vagabonds, seemingly summoned by Devos, take up a residency of sorts on Joanne’s property. Aaron works by day, and by night he attempts to assist Joanne in extracting herself from the situation while fending off the Vickers family. There is also some criminal activity in the vicinity that cannot be ignored.
Wade Benbow, a local police detective, attempts to recruit Aaron into the investigation, even as his attention is diverted elsewhere. The area, though, is shot through with the spirits from a tragedy of a bygone era. It is not long before various elements, which by turns work with and against each other, collide in a cataclysmic event that changes everything for Aaron and those around him, for better and for worse.
I was initially disappointed in the book’s conclusion because it seemed somewhat abrupt and incomplete. But on reflection, the story set forth in this volume is not one that lends itself to neat endings or easy answers. It is all the more lifelike or real-world because of it, bittersweet but still full of hope as always. ANOTHER KIND OF EDEN features some of Burke’s best prose --- the man’s wordcraft, even at this late date, is awe-inspiring --- and his characters are unforgettable. You will want to put this book at the very top of your must-read list if you haven’t already.