House of the Rising Sun: A Novel (Unabridged)
by James Lee Burke
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Includes an exclusive interview with James Lee Burke! New York Times best seller James Lee Burke returns with his latest masterpiece, the story of a father and son separated by war and circumstance - and whose encounter with the legendary Holy Grail will change their lives forever. From its opening scene in revolutionary Mexico to the Battle of the Marne in 1918, and on to the bordellos and saloons of San Antonio during the reign of the Hole in the Wall Gang, House of the Rising Sun is an epic tale of love, loss, betrayal, vengeance, and retribution that follows Texas Ranger Hackberry Holland on his journey to reunite with his estranged son, Ishmael, a captain in the United States Army. After a violent encounter that leaves four Mexican soldiers dead, Hackberry escapes the country in possession of a stolen artifact, earning the ire of a bloodthirsty Austrian arms dealer who then places Hack's son, Ishmael, squarely in the crosshairs of a plot to recapture his prize, believed to be the mythic cup of Christ. Along the way, we meet three extraordinary women: Ruby Dansen, the Danish immigrant who is Ishmael's mother and Hackberry's one true love; Beatrice DeMolay, a brothel madam descended from the crusader knight who brought the shroud of Turin back from the Holy Land; and Maggie Bassett, one-time lover of the Sundance Kid, whose wiles rival those of Lady Macbeth. In her own way, each woman will aid Hackberry in his quest to reconcile with Ishmael, to vanquish their enemies, and to return the Grail to its rightful place. House of the Rising Sun is James Lee Burke's finest novel to date and a thrilling entry into the Holland family saga that continued most recently with Wayfaring Stranger, which the New York Times Book Review described as "saturated with the romance of the past while mournfully attuned to the unholy menace of the present".
Let's start with the fact I love James Lee Burke novels - all of them. He is easily one of my top 5 writers. I would rate this higher if it wasn't so much like his other novels. His characters mirror each other. This book's protagonist has many of the same personality characteristics of his other protagonists. Same with the villians. However, they are always well developed. Above all, Burke is a master of language. His prose is beautiful and more than enough to make up for any plot criticisms (and I have several) that bring this book down a bit. I'll keep on buying them. I do love Will Patton and find his performances spot on with the audiobooks. He gives life to the characters in a way that would be missed with simply reading the book. I love Burke - not his best - but his B game is always worth the price of admission.