Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Another Kind of Eden - James Lee Burke


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 Aaron is an unpublished novelist who has taken to jumping in and out of boxcars and working odd jobs to sustain himself.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. 


James Lee Burke



Review Copy provided by Publisher Simon & Schuster 

8 comments:

  1. This is an example of a popular author I have never tried (there are plenty of others I'm sure.) This sounds rather intense. I'm guessing you will read the entire series.

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    1. A quick count shows that I've read 36 of Burke's books now, including most of the Holland family ones. He's been a favorite of mine for decades...ever since I discovered his Cajun detective series, one I so easily identify with. Jim is still going relatively strong even at this stage of his life. My favorites are the Dave Robicheaux books...love that whole series.

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  2. Haven't read a James Lee Burke in years! And then, only the Dave Robicheaux books, but this sounds like a series I'd enjoy.

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    1. This series is kind of all over the map because the different branches of the Holland family tree being featured are decades apart from each other. Some readers look at the series as being four separate series; it works either way. Be warned that this particular series is even darker and spookier than I made it sound.

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  3. Aaron intrigues me as a character, but it does sound like the deck is stacked against him in this one.

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    1. Let's just say that he's been very lucky to live through the first two books in this series...if there's a third book, the guy definitely deserves a break.

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  4. Years ago I read a lot of James Lee Burke's Robicheaux novels, but eventually they just got too dark for me and I gave them up. I haven't read him in years, but I can acknowledge that he is an extremely talented writer. His daughter is a chip off the old block in that regard.

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    1. The Holland family books are every bit as dark as the later Dave Robicheaux books, Dorothy, if not more so. I'm not sure what that says about Burke's take on life now that he's into his eighties, but the books seem to be more over-the-top than ever before, too. But the man can most definitely still write, and I hope retirement is not in his plans.

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