James Lee Burke Books In Order – The Complete List of Novels

James Lee Burke is a New York Times bestselling American author best known for his Dave Robicheaux crime mystery novels.

Here are the James Lee Burke books in order of publication for his New Orleans detective Dave Robicheaux, and the Texas Sheriff Hackberry Holland and family stories, standalone works, and short story collections. With books like Sunset Limited, The New Iberia Blues, The Tin Roof Blowdown, Black Cherry Blues, and Wayfaring Stranger, the author has made himself a name not only in the U.S. but also around the world among anyone who reads crime mystery novels.

The list of James Lee Burke’s work will point the chronological order to witness the growth of the author’s writing power and the evolution of his compelling characters.

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Dave Robicheaux Books In Publication Order

  1. The Neon Rain, 1987
  2. Heaven’s Prisoners, 1988
  3. Black Cherry Blues, 1989
  4. A Morning For Flamingos, 1990
  5. A Stained White Radiance, 1992
  6. In Electric Mist With Confederate Dead, 1993
  7. Dixie City Jam, 1994
  8. Burning Angel, 1995
  9. Cadillac Jukebox, 1996
  10. Sunset Limited, 1998
  11. Purple Cane Road), 2000
  12. Jolie Blon’s Bounce), 2002
  13. Last Car To Elysian Fields, 2003
  14. Crusader’s Cross, 2005
  15. Pegasus Descending, 2006
  16. The Tin Roof Blowdown, 2007
  17. Swan Peak, 2008
  18. The Glass Rainbow, 2010
  19. Creole Belle), 2012
  20. Light of the World, 2013
  21. Robicheaux: You Know My Name, 2018
  22. The New Iberia Blues, 2019
  23. A Private Cathedral, 2020
  24. Clete, 2024

The Holland Family Universe Books in Publication Order

  1. Lay Down My Sword And Shield, 1971
  2. Two for Texas, 1982
  3. Cimarron Rose, 1997
  4. Heartwood, 1999
  5. Bitterroot, 2001
  6. In The Moon Of Red Ponies, 2004
  7. Rain Gods, 2009
  8. Feast Day of Fools, 2011
  9. Wayfaring Stranger, 2014
  10. House of the Rising Sun, 2015
  11. The Jealous Kind, 2016
  12. Another Kind of Eden, 2021
  13. Every Cloak Rolled In Blood, 2022

Hackberry Holland Books In Publication Order

  1. Lay Down My Sword And Shield, 1971
  2. Rain Gods, 2009
  3. Feast Day of Fools, 2011
  4. House of the Rising Sun, 2015

Billy Bob Holland Books In Publication Order

  1. Cimarron Rose, 1997
  2. Heartwood, 1999
  3. Bitterroot, 2001
  4. In The Moon Of Red Ponies, 2004

Weldon Holland Books

  1. Wayfaring Stranger, 2014

Standalone Books in Publication Order

Short Stories and Short Story Collections

Anthologies in Publication Order

Non-Fiction Books in Publication Order

Recommended Reading Order

Navigating James Lee Burke’s Books Chronologically

James Lee Burke is a prolific American author renowned for his masterful storytelling, richly developed characters, and atmospheric settings that transport readers into the heart of the American South. With several decades of career, he has crafted an impressive number of works, including multiple series and standalone stories.

For those new to his captivating narratives or longtime fans looking to revisit their favorite stories, understanding the recommended reading order can enhance the overall reading experience. Below is the author’s book list in chronological order, guiding you through his literary journey.

Early Works

Burke’s career as a novelist took flight with the release of his early works and standalone novels. These books laid the foundation for the themes and styles that would become his signature. Start your journey with classics such as Half of Paradise and To the Bright and Shining Sun, which provide a glimpse into the author’s early brilliance.

The Dave Robicheaux Series

One of his most beloved and enduring characters is Dave Robicheaux, a complex and haunted New Orleans detective in the bayous of Louisiana. The series begins with The Neon Rain, followed by Heaven’s Prisoners, Black Cherry Blues, and so on, all the way to A Private Cathedral, published in 2020, and then Clete, published in 2024. Readers can follow Robicheaux’s evolution as a character as he navigates the intricate webs of crime and corruption while battling his inner demons.

The Hackberry Holland Series

Hackberry Holland, a Texas sheriff, is the protagonist of another gripping series by Burke. The series starts with Lay Down My Sword and Shield, followed by Rain Gods, Feast Day of Fools, and House of the Rising Sun. We can see Holland’s relentless pursuit of justice in the rugged and unforgiving Texan landscape.

The Billy Bob Holland Series

Billy Bob Holland, an attorney, and ex-Texas Ranger, stars in this enthralling series. It begins with Cimarron Rose, continues with Heartwood and Bitterroot, and ends with In the Moon of Red Ponies. These novels offer a captivating blend of legal drama and gritty crime fiction.

Standalone Novels

Interspersed within the series are Burke’s standalone books, each a treasure in its own right. White Doves at Morning, set during the Civil War, and In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, featuring supernatural elements, are just a few of these hidden gems worth picking up.

The Holland Family Saga

For a deeper exploration of the Holland clan and their multi-generational saga, it is useful to read Wayfaring Stranger, released in 2014. This standalone novel follows Weldon Holland, a man caught in the tumultuous events of the 20th century, and his struggle for redemption and survival.

Navigating the James Lee Burke books chronologically allows readers to witness the growth of his writing prowess and the evolution of his compelling characters. Whether you embark on the journey with Dave Robicheaux, delve into the intricacies of the Holland family, or experience the gripping standalone books, Burke’s world is sure to leave an indelible mark on your reading journey for many years.

The Southern Gothic Influences

Southern Gothic literature is a captivating genre that weaves together elements of the macabre, the grotesque, and the sublime within the backdrop of the American South. A master of crime fiction, James Lee Burke, has not only captivated readers with his gripping narratives but also incorporated the essence of Southern Gothic into his works.

  1. Evocative Settings

One of the hallmarks of Southern Gothic literature is the atmospheric settings that mirror the complexities of the region. Burke’s novels are often set in Louisiana and Texas lush and haunting landscapes, where bayous, swamps, and mist-covered plantations create an eerie and mystical ambiance. The environment becomes almost a character itself, setting the stage for the dark and suspenseful tales that unfold.

  1. Haunted and Complex Characters

Southern Gothic stories are known for their multifaceted and haunted characters, and Burke’s protagonists exemplify this trope. An example is Dave Robicheaux’s inner struggles with his troubled past, alcoholism, and moral dilemmas add depth and complexity to his character. These deeply flawed yet relatable characters are plagued by personal demons, mirroring the haunting nature of the genre.

  1. Themes of Decay

The decaying aspects of the Southern setting often symbolize the decline of old traditions and values. In the author’s work, decaying plantations, corrupt institutions, and morally bankrupt characters reflect the crumbling of traditional Southern values and the clash between the past and the present.

  1. Supernatural Elements

This style of literature frequently blends the natural and the supernatural, blurring the lines between reality and myth. The novels of James Lee Burke occasionally incorporate mystical and paranormal elements, offering a sense of foreboding and enchantment. These supernatural elements add an eerie and otherworldly dimension to the descriptions, heightening the sense of mystery and unease.

  1. Social Issues and Southern Culture

The Southern Gothic genre has often been used as a lens to explore and critique the American South’s social issues and cultural complexities. In James Lee Burke’s writing, the deep-rooted problems of racism, class divide, and political corruption are skillfully woven into the plotlines. He addresses these issues with sensitivity, providing a thought-provoking exploration of the region’s history and its impact on society.

  1. Moral Ambiguity and Redemption

Redemption is a recurring theme in Southern Gothic literature, and the books of James Lee Burke are no exception. Characters grapple with moral ambiguity, searching for salvation or trying to find a semblance of justice in an often harsh and unforgiving world. This pursuit of redemption adds emotional depth to the stories, making them resonate with readers profoundly.

James Lee Burke Biography – About the Author

James Lee Burke books

James Lee Burke was born in Houston in 1936 but grew up in Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. He graduated from the Southwestern Louisiana Institute, after which he also attended and graduated from the University of Missouri with a BA and MA in English.

While being a novelist is what we know him for best, he also had some interesting and odd jobs over the years, including being a land surveyor, a truck driver for the U.S. Forest Service, a pipeliner, a newspaper reporter, a college professor in English, a clerk, and social worker, to name just a few.

James Lee Burke’s books have received several awards, among others twice the Edgar award for best crime novel of the year. Heaven’s Prisoners and Two For Texas have been turned into movies.

For those authors who get discouraged by their books being rejected by publishers, here’s an interesting tidbit. His novel The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected for a total of 111 times before Louisiana State University Press finally published it. The book was nominated for a Pulitzer. Lesson to take away: never give up.

James Lee Burke’s daughter, Alafair Burke is also an established crime mystery writer with two main series (Ellie Hatcher and Samantha Kinkaid). Her books are also worth checking out.

The journey to read the James Lee Burke books in order will take you through over 40 novels he has written over many decades, including 3 main series, with the most popular one being detective Dave Robicheaux.

I have to admit, I love the Dave Robicheaux series the most, however, I know many readers enjoy his other stories, including his standalone works as well. A New York Times bestselling novelist, James also wrote two collections of short stories that are worth reading. The Convict, released in 1985, features a dozen short tales set in the Deep South. Jesus Out to Sea, published in 2007, has an additional 10 American gripping tales. These two collections are well worth reading as well.

Needless to say, however, Dave Robicheaux, which currently consists of 23 published, with the latest book, Clete, released in 2024, is highly recommended if you like Southern mysteries with heavy baggage recovering alcoholic sheriffs solving murders in their own personal way.

Book Adaptations

Several of the author’s crime stories have been adapted to the big screen. The Robicheaux character appeared twice in films.

IHeaven’s Prisoners is a Dave Robicheaux book to movie adaptation in 1996 with Alec Baldwin as detective Dave Robicheaux and Kelly Lynch as Annie Robicheaux. Other actors are Eric Roberts and Teri Hatcher.

Two for Texas was adapted into a same-titled TV movie in 1998 with Scott Bairstow as Son Holland and Kris Kistofferson as Hugh Allison.

In the Electric Mist is another Dave Robicheaux books adaptation in 2009 with Tommy Lee Jones as detective Dave Robicheaux and John Goodman as Julie “Baby Feet” Balboni.

God’s Country is a movie adaptation of the short story Winter Light in 2022 with Thandiwe Newton, Joris Jarsky, and Jefferson White.

James Lee Burke Awards

  • John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts in Fiction in 1988
  • Black Cherry Blues – Edgar Awards Best Novel winner in 1990
  • Sunset Limited – Dagger Awards Best Novel winner in 1998
  • Cimarron Rose – Edgar Awards Best Novel winner in 1998
  • Sunset Limited – Dilys Awards Best Book nominee in 1999
  • Purple Cane Road – Dagger Awards Best Book nominee in 2000
  • Jolie Blon’s Bounce – Dagger Awards Best Novel nominee in 2002
  • Louisiana Writer Award for his enduring contribution to the “literary intellectual heritage of Louisiana” in 2002
  • Jolie Blon’s Bounce – Edgar Awards Best Novel nominee in 2003
  • Jolie Blon’s Bounce – Macavity Awards Best Novel nominee in 2003
  • Pegasus Descending – Dagger Awards Best Novel nominee in 2007
  • The Tin Roof Blowdown – Anthony Awards Best Novel nominee in 2008
  • The Tin Roof Blowdown – BCA Crime Thriller of the Year Best Novel nominee in 2008
  • The Tin Roof Blowdown – Dagger Awards Best Novel nominee in 2008
  • Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 2009
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  1. If you are reading the Robicheaux books in order, you should probably read the last published book, “A Private Cathedral” prior to “Robicheaux: You Know My Name,” as there are references to Alifair still going to school and Tripod is still alive.

  2. Read or listened to all Burkes books most are autographed thru Books along the Teshe book store Always one of my favorite authors all are good reads

  3. You cannot find a better author whose writing immediately grabs you like a snapping turtle and won’t let go. After reading his books starting in 1971, I need to reread them all. At 76 years old and never privileged to visit Arcadiana, I still am transported back to my younger years by Mr. Burke’s written words reminding me of the sordid life I also survived by God’s grace. Thank you can never begin to express the delight of reading a new book by Mr. Burke.

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