Wayfaring Stranger

James Lee Burke is best known for his 20 Dave Robicheaux gumbo-noir mystery novels set in and around New Orleans, but the prolific Montanan by way of Louisiana and Texas has written 15 other novels. A number of them—including his latest, Wayfaring Stranger—are set in the Lone Star State and feature members of the law-enforcement Holland clan, particularly Hackberry Holland and Billy Bob Holland. Now comes Weldon Holland, a World War II veteran who, freshly married to Rosita Lowenstein, whom he found starving in an otherwise empty death camp, starts an oil pipeline company with his military pal Hershel Pine. It's the late-1940s, and the country is booming on a flood tide of oil. Then comes trouble, in the form of a bunch of Texas scalawags who seem to have it out for Weldon and Hershel for reasons that aren't entirely clear. That's OK, though: Burke is such a powerful writer that we don't mind that the novel is slightly overstuffed. We settle into it like a favorite easy chair, eager to enjoy this sprawling Texan epic that is also a mythic love story as well as an engaging thriller.