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Rain Gods (Hackberry Holland #2)

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  3,806 Ratings  ·  413 Reviews
When Hackberry Holland became sheriff of a tiny Texas town near the Mexican border, he'd hoped to leave certain things behind: his checkered reputation, his haunted dreams, and his obsessive memories of the good life with his late wife, Rie. But the discovery of the bodies of nine illegal aliens, machine-gunned to death and buried in a shallow grave behind a church, soon m ...more
Audio CD, Abridged, 12 pages
Published July 14th 2009 by Simon & Schuster Audio
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Paul Nelson
The first of this Hackberry Holland trilogy Lay Down My Sword and Shield was released in 1971, it then took James Lee Burke 38 years to pen this sequel and fuck me was it worth the wait, 38 years of wisdom and experience have gone into these characters and it shows.

Not for me of course because I’m lucky enough to read all three books one after the other, the first lay Hackberry Holland’s soul open for all to see and you don’t see characters laid as bare as this very often. In the first story Hac
Cathrine ☯
"We decry violence all the time in this country, but look at our history. We were born in a violent revolution, and we've been in wars ever since. We're not a pacific people."
James Lee Burke
From a goodreads review: "Fuck me. Burke is such a goddamn badass."

If that language offends, you probably do not want to read these books. In this one Hackberry is an aging sheriff with a bad back, nursing sobriety, and he’s still a badass. Plus, our author is an equal opportunity writer and his women are
Carl R.
May 15, 2012 Carl R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m beset with the voices of Gods, literary and atavistic, screaming at me about why I should or should not care about Burke and his Rain Gods or Burke and anything else he ever wrote.
I’m devoted to the guy, but at the same time my literary eye--my English teacher eye? What’s that worth?--sees right through him. Sees through his repeated characters and their repeated motifs. There’s always the recovered (recovering?) alcoholic, the endless descriptions of landscape and weather somehow tied to t
The Librarian
Apr 02, 2010 The Librarian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Question to Self: "Self,how did you overlook Burke all of these years?" Answer: "I have no clue, but now that I found him, I want to read ALL of his books!" Great storyline & character development!
Sep 15, 2009 Bondama rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best of Burke's books, and that's saying a tremendous amount. This man is the single best writer of "thriller" type novels, because they're so much more than that. His prose is elegant, and his plots all-consuming. I dare you to put one of his Dave Robicheaux (or any of his others) books down once you've started them. Unbelievably good.
Vannessa Anderson
Oct 22, 2009 Vannessa Anderson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: james-lee-burke
James Lee Burke is an author whose canvass is paper as he paints stories with words!

While immense in the story one can visualize the settings and characters. James Lee Burke’s bad guys and gals are so bad that if you’re deeply engrossed in the book and someone knocks on your door or rings your doorbell or you hear the floor squeaking above your head, you’ll jump from fright. The law enforcement who chases the bad guys/gals is just as bad, and so is the staff they have to be to capture the monst
Ellen Dunne
May 24, 2016 Ellen Dunne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Loved this! Atmosphere, characters, the writing, and it also was so tense and suspenseful! I suspect there are minor plot holes lurking round but I was much too swayed by the rest to care :)
Aug 02, 2011 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
James Lee Burke is a great writer, who delights in intellectual asides, precision pastel description, and discursive moral tirades that could rival a fundamentalist preacher, threaded through thriller novels that feature strong-willed, emotionally damaged (from military service and the loss of a wife), recovering addict (usually alcohol) lawmen facing off against a hard-bitten, intelligent, psychopaths who have little or no care for humanity. There is usually a sidekick, a loyal compadre of simi ...more
Dec 10, 2009 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Decided to start on Burke with a recent one. This seems a summing up of lifetime of themes and disheartening portrait of America. Like a home grown Le Carré or Greene, Burke uses a page turning thriller to capture the tenor of the times so accurately and artfully it will hold up as a historical novel. And what an ugly face he gives America, a litany of the ills of this fading empire including human trafficking, drug mules, the scarcity of opportunities for emotional scarred veterans, Russian and ...more
Nov 26, 2013 Dale rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A dark, wearisome and depressing novel

Crime novels come in all sorts of varieties and flavors. At one extreme are the slapstick Evanovich Stephanie Plum books. At the other end come moody and brooding novels like those that James Lee Burke produces. I have read several of his books and I know that they are not fun-loving romps, but the morose nature of this book takes the cake.

With the exception of two brief scenes Rain Gods: A Novel was relentless in its brooding tone. I found it wearisome.
Bookmarks Magazine
Jul 30, 2009 Bookmarks Magazine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sept-oct-2009
"Critics have nothing but praise for Burke's latest Hackberry Holland novel. An author with a deep regional feel for parts of the United States -- including Texas and Louisiana -- Burke aptly portrays ""a range war in Southwest Texas -- a pitched battle between gangs of displaced bad guys, fighting among themselves for the new territory against the outmatched locals"" (New York Times Book Review). He revisits themes of sin and redemption, but adds unusual layers of depth to his story with a keen ...more
John Hood
Aug 30, 2009 John Hood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Let’s Get Biblical

James Lee Burke Brings Down the Wrath of Rain Gods

By John Hood

“It’s better that some people don’t live. They should be taken before their souls are forfeit. That means some of us have to help them in ways they don’t like, in ways that seem truly awful at the time.”

That’s Preacher Jack Collins, talking to a low rent whore in a flea bag motel room on the wrong side of San Antonio’s dust-blown tracks. The whore clearly does not
Jürgen Zeller
Nov 08, 2014 Jürgen Zeller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eine dicke Überraschung beim auspacken des Amazon-Pakets ... was für ein Klopper von einem Buch! Das es rund 670 Seiten sind wusste ich aber trotzdem ... Nun gut, das Cover mit der gottverlassenen Kirche und dem finstren Himmel gefällt und verbreitet eine grimmig-böse Grundstimmung. Es geht dann auch gleich los mit der rasanten Geschichte und der Grundstein allen Übels wird gelegt. In einem unwirtlichen texanischen Kaff nahe der mexikanischen Grenze werden hinter einem Gotteshaus neun blutjunge ...more
Kerstin Stutzke
Oct 03, 2015 Kerstin Stutzke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Auf Grund eines anonymen Hinweises macht Sheriff Hackberry Holland hinter einer alten Kirche in Chapala Crossing eine grausige Entdeckung. Neun asiatisch-stämmige Frauen wurden dort ermordet und vergraben, doch nicht alle waren schon tot, als sie begraben wurden. Die Frauen sollten augenscheinlich in der Nähe der mexikanischen Grenze als Prostituierte arbeiten, doch bei der Obduktion steht fest, nicht nur dafür wurden die Frauen benutzt, denn in ihren Körpern finden sich Ballons voller Drogen. A ...more
Feb 04, 2016 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James Lee Burke is always trying to say something about the human condition. He presents a number of interesting characters in this outing-- all of them facing their own personal dilemmas.

Hackberry Holland is related to the Billy Bob Holland from some of James Lee Burke's other series. He is a much older man, now serving as Sheriff of a County on the South Texas border. His relationship with his female deputy is complicated. Though she is much younger, she is clearly attracted to him and he cont
Apr 18, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Modern Western Crime Fiction Fans
I think James Lee Burke is one of the best authors, of any genre, writing today. My only argument with this book is that it is so dark as to be downright depressing at times.

The story opens when Sheriff Hackberry Holland, a Korean War veteran in his early 70s, discovers a burial site where nine young Thai women have recently been cut down by a Thompson machine gun, reminiscent of prohibition massacres. He was directed to the site by an anonymous phone call from an Iraq veteran suffering from PT
Kathleen Hagen
Rain Gods, by James Lee Burke, b-plus, narrated by Will Patton, produced by Simon and Schuster Audio, downloaded from

I didn’t like this book as well as I like his Dave Robicheau series. Of course, Will Patton works his usual magic with James Lee Burke novels. NO one but Will should narrate them, I say.

Publisher’s note:
When Hackberry Holland became sheriff of a tiny Texas town near the Mexican border, he'd hoped to leave certain things behind: his checkered reputation,
his haunted drea
Aug 20, 2009 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Burke, James Lee. RAIN GODS (2009). ****. Once again, the author demonstrates his ability to describe scenes, thoughts, and actions in the most poetic manner that you will be able to find from any author writing today. His language, even when describing mayhem and pure evil, sings from the page. The plot is convoluted and difficult to encapsulate, but starts off and is driven by the mass murder of a group of young Asian women and children behind an abandoned church in Southwestern Texas, near th ...more
Sep 09, 2009 Grey853 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 13, 2009 Clare rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love every book James Lee Burke writes but this one was4 stars to me rather than 5 because I was going crazy waiting for Pete and Vikki to make it to safety or to get killed. You'll meet them both - the decent people who get mixed up in some really awful stuff due to a combination of youth and inability to recognize that some people are truly bad.

Hackberry Holland is a somewhat typical hero in a James Lee Burke book. He is a good man who has done some bad things and they weigh mightily on his
Tim Niland
Jul 21, 2009 Tim Niland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-reads
After getting a mysterious phone call from a distraught witness, rural Texas sheriff Hackberry Holland makes a grisly discovery: the bodies of nine young Thai women who were murdered while being smuggled into the country as prostitutes and drug mules. In the aftermath of this slaughter, the witness and his girlfriend go on the run leading to a vicious conflict between cops, gangsters and cold blooded killers. This was a crackling story of greed, violence and the hope of redemption. Burke is the ...more
Brandon Siefford
Mar 05, 2015 Brandon Siefford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When nine young Thai women are found murdered and buried (at least one while still alive!) just north of the Mexican border, the chase begins. Holland and Tabs use dogged, persistent police work in their attempt to bring justice to the Thai women. Rain Gods features three of Burke's strongest female characters. Pam Tabs is no cardboard, country hick deputy. She is a professional and a woman who loves Holland, but does not let that get in the way of doing the right thing. One hopes to learn more ...more
Aug 03, 2013 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read everything by James Lee Burke. In this book he is a painter rather than a writer. Watch for the descriptions of the landscapes and sunsets and how they become metaphors of the story. Also his character descriptions are surreal and immediate.

I have not finished the book, I give it only 4 stars because I adore so many of his other books and I feel he is going over the same territory but not touching me as deeply as books like the "Confederate Mist". However it is a vast poetic and philosop
Jan 01, 2015 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Lee Burke is one of the most extraordinary of the crime fiction writers ever, in my opinion. I have yet to read anything by him that was common or simple. He is a master of detail written in such a way that it is spread out right before your eyes. His books are truly full-length technicolor movies. And the characters? Hackberry Holland, Pam Tibbs, and especially The Preacher, Jack Collins, the most articulate yet evil fella you could ever imagine meeting. All his utterances are delicious.
Aug 24, 2009 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, inlibrary
James Lee Burke takes all his previous novels and distills them into a masterpiece of tension, moral uncertainty, conflict, slaughter, bravery, and world-weary resolve. Each character is precisely drawn with pungent smells, vivid colors, and distinct feelings. And, as is the norm for any Burke novel, the narrative is drawn on your mind with brilliant prose. Take this single simple sentence as an example:

"As he lay in bed with a view of a chicken yard, a railed pen with six goats inside it, and
Aug 13, 2012 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second novel that turns up the character Hackberry Holland. The first one was a pretty good story. This one finds an older Hack, as a Sheriff now, in a pit of vipers attempting to locate the killers that slaughtered a bunch of Asian hookers behind an abandoned church. Burke uses words to paint vistas of a majestic grandeur that evoke images of the hard country that he writes about, and the characters that inhabit that land are brought to life through the spirit of his words. This nov ...more
Aug 15, 2009 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I love James Lee Burke for his beautifully (and sometimes horrifyingly) descriptive writing and for his complex characters. The villains, though scary, nearly always have a backstory, and the heroes are scrupulously honest and dedicated to their own vision of justice, which isn't often the same as yours or mine.

This book is a departure from his regular series, featuring a 70-something lawman in Texas, Hackberry Holland, who is a cousin of his series character Billy Bob. Hackberry discovers the m
Johnny Williams
Jan 12, 2016 Johnny Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hackberry Holand #2 35 years or so after the first book was written. Wow I really didnt know what to expect-- could Burke bring the pieces together? Which Charactor was going to survive? Well do da do da-- he basically recast Hackberry completely and with no sign of an explanantion-- threw his wife to one side and a lot more--
He did retain Hack's historical background but basically it is another 1st in a series on its on-
The story is great-- reads well nad is smack solid James Burke--
I loved the
Richard Maxwell
I don't know why I read Jas. Lee Burke's books! I never miss a new one and I always kick myself after it's read and swear I'll never read another one. But then I go ahead and get the next one. They seem to appear with greater regularity these days. He's now got three main characters, Dave Robicheaux, the ex-NOLA detective who continues to run into old high school nemeses and other low lifes who Robicheaux along with his buddy Cletus Purcell, vanquish; Billy Bob Somebody, a now-retired Tx Ranger, ...more
John Hendricks
Jul 18, 2009 John Hendricks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009, faves
I rarely give a book 5 stars, but James Lee Burke's character story "Rain Gods" pushed every button that I have that says "Great Book." A basic uncomplicated plotline, a small group of solidly fleshed out characters with separate and complete arcs, and bigness. Bigness for me is universal themes that are the backdrop of a novel. Burke writes bigness in this one.
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James Lee Burke is an American author best known for his mysteries, particularly the Dave Robicheaux series. He has twice received the Edgar Award for Best Novel, for Black Cherry Blues in 1990 and Cimarron Rose in 1998.

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
More about James Lee Burke...

Other Books in the Series

Hackberry Holland (4 books)
  • Lay Down My Sword And Shield (Hackberry Holland, #1)
  • Feast Day of Fools (Hackberry Holland, #3)
  • House of the Rising Sun (Hackberry Holland, #4)

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“Every third night a commitee holds a meeting in my head.” 3 likes
“But the rain gods went away. They ain’t coming back, either.” “How do you know that?” “They got no reason to. We don’t believe in them no more.” 0 likes
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