Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke

Feast Day of Fools is James Lee Burke’s thirtieth novel, featuring not Dave Robicheaux, but Sheriff Hackberry Holland. Holland has quit both the drink and the whores to police in small-town south-west Texas, where sociopaths and illegal immigrants have an uncanny need to congregate. Preacher Jack Collins (presumed dead at the end of Rain Gods) has re-emerged to continue his killing ways; a Homeland Security scientist with valuable military information is missing; and a mysterious Chinese woman is expediting Mexicans across the border. Confusing? You bet, and it doesn’t clear up easily. But the pay-off is huge, with Burke in stellar form. Texas is evoked beautifully, and the various characters are fleshed out with his usual aplomb. Where the plot goes haywire, it doesn’t matter. Just hang in there and you’ll get what Burke always delivers – simply the best American thriller writing there is.

Robbie Egan is from Readings Carlton