New & notable: James Lee Burke’s ‘House of the Rising Sun’

Bestselling author James Lee Burke, a two-time Edgar Award winner, follows 2014’s Wayfaring Stranger with the prequel House of the Rising Sun, another installment in his “Holland Family” series.

The Holland clan’s roots run deep in the heart of Texas, going back to the Battle of San Jacinto, Sam Houston and Deaf Smith. The family tree is peppered with lawmen, lawyers, good guys and a few ne’er-do-wells.

Set in the early 1900s in Mexico and Texas, House of the Rising Sun follows sometimes-Texas Ranger Hackberry Holland, a tortured soul who is trying to track down estranged son Ishmael, a captain in the U.S. Army back from fighting in World War I. While on the hunt in Mexico, Hack takes what could be the Holy Grail and runs afoul of an evil Austrian arms dealer, who believes the mythical chalice of Christ belongs to him and will stop at nothing to get it.

As in the other “Holland Family” novels, a spate of famous names are dropped — Pancho Villa, John Wesley Hardin, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid’s “Hole in the Wall Gang,” and more outlaws.

And there are three strong women — Ishmael’s mother, Ruby; Hack’s ex-wife, Maggie; and Beatrice, owner of a bordello, who helps Hack in his quest.

Celeste Williams

House of the Rising Sun

  • By James Lee Burke
  • Simon & Schuster, $27.99
  • Audio: Simon & Schuster Audio, $39.99; narrated by actor Will Patton, a James Lee Burke regular.