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Every Cloak Rolled in Blood

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I first became aware of James Lee Burke when I was looking for a new novel in a bookstore at Heathrow Airport. I was looking in the mystery and crime section when a women asked me if I had read James Lee Burke. She recommended one of his books which might have been The Electric Mist, and I was hooked. Such beautiful prose considering it’s in the mystery/thriller genre. His protagonist, Dave Robicheaux was a most compelling character. I read several more of his books, but it’s been a while since I’ve picked up another. 

Burke is now 85 years old and still writing. Apparently, Every Cloak Rolled in Blood which he just published in 2022 is his most autobiographical novel. This is a deeply personal effort for Burke. He was apparently a solider in Vietnam and left that arena with some guilt about what occurred there. Also, he lost one of his daughters recently and this book would seem to be in part about his mourning process, about which he writes with great style and painful emotion. However, he then ventured off into the supernatural and became hard to follow his thoughts through that process. Abandoned the book about halfway through. I just wasn’t interested in the characters or the plot. Disappointing because Burke has such a stellar history. On the other hand, if you’re fan of the supernatural genre, then this one is for you.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance reader copy.
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An incredible read that deftly combines mystery, drama and the supernatural.  Burke at his best.

This was a deeply felt, personal novel and the love Mr. Burke has for his family and his late daughter comes through on every page.  While I have been, first and foremost a Dave Robicheaux fan, this book is far and away my  favorite James Lee Burke novel.  Incredible.
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James Lee Burke’s book Another Kind of Eden (reviewed in 2021) had just a bit too much of the supernatural in it for my taste…same for my husband who is the real Burke fan in this household. So I was a bit hesitant to dive into Every Cloak Rolled in Blood, described as “ his most autobiographical novel to date, “ In it, Burke continues the Holland family saga with a story about a writer grieving the death of his daughter while at the same time battling earthly and supernatural  (uh-oh) outlaws.
The protagonist, novelist Aaron Holland Broussard is trying to honor the memory of his daughter by saving two young men from a life of crime. They live in a classic  opioid-ravaged community, and Broussard finds himself dealing with a violent former Klansman, a fnot very godly minister, a biker club posing as evangelicals, and (as if this weren’t enough!) a murderer who has been hiding in plain sight.
Broussard allies himself with state police officer Ruby Spotted Horse, who turns out to be the only one he can trust. But then the ghost of Fannie Mae shows up, guiding her father as he works to fight the demons of both the present and the past. Oh, and the next. Yikes. This exploration of good vs. evil is wrapped in love and family, blah blah blah, but it was a bit too out there for me, Three stars, and we still love Burke but hope for more reality in future books. Thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for an advance copy of this title.
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Published by ‎ Simon & Schuster on May 24, 2022

Aaron Holland Broussard is part of the Holland family that James Lee Burke has chronicled in a dozen novels. Broussard is also Burke’s alter ego. At 85, it isn’t surprising that Burke uses Broussard as a way to reflect on his life, on the mystery of existence, and on loss.

Broussard is an 85-year-old novelist who, like Burke, lives with the pain of a daughter’s death. Burke explains in a letter to the reader that his daughter died of natural causes in 2020. Broussard feels he is being “boiled alive” by “psychoneurotic anxiety and agitated depression.” Broussard’s daughter died but is still at his side, appearing to warn him of dangers arising in both the corporeal and spirit world.

Broussard lives alone, although prolific writers who are surrounded by family spend much of their life alone in the act of creation. How much of Broussard is really Burke is unknowable to anyone who doesn’t know Burke. Nor does it matter. The novel is not a biography; it succeeds or fails as a matter of literary merit.

Broussard has evolved during his long life. He feels shame for supporting Strom Thurmond’s election and for cheering American pilots who gunned down civilians fleeing their village during the Korean War. Yet he was never part of a mob — not a Klansman, not a waver of Confederate flags, not a bigot. He believes heroism should walk with humility, that bravery follows kindness. He is a decent man who regrets his mistakes.

The story begins with a young man painting a swastika on Broussard’s barn. At various times, Broussard confronts or tries to reason with or help the boy and the father who poisoned him. The story involves drug dealing and buried gold on a reservation, a couple of gruesome murders, ineffective cops, and an unfortunate woman who wants to make a movie with Broussard. While some of the story is reality-based, a good bit of the novel asks the reader to believe (or at least accept that Broussard believes) that spirits of the dead are trying to influence us with evil or save us from ourselves. Broussard, on the other hand, wonders if he might be delusional, forced by grief to see things that aren’t there. A reader might wonder if that’s true, but that does not appear to be the conclusion that Burke invites.

Every Cloak Rolled in Blood succeeds despite its reliance on the supernatural themes crime writers often use to address the existence of evil. Broussard explains that the “great mystery for me has always been the presence of evil in the human breast.” On several occasions, Broussard encounters Major Eugene Baker, the officer who ordered his cavalry troops to massacre peaceful members of the Blackfoot tribe as they slept. A state trooper named Ruby Spotted Horse has a cellar that is a “conduit into a cavernous world that has never been plumbed,” a place where Baker’s spirit resides, among others who have the power to “come back upon the living.”

I’m not a fan of supernatural themes — the supernatural seems too easy as an explanation of evil, a copout that allows humanity to avoid responsibility for inhumane behavior — although I forgive Burke and other accomplished writers for evoking evil spirits. Burke’s prose makes forgiveness easy, particularly when he offers other insights into the human condition. Examples:

“I do not enjoy my role as an old man in a nation that has little use for antiquity and even less for those who value it.”

“I hate the violent history of the Holland family, and I hate the martial mentality of those who love wars but never go to them.”

“When you lose your kid, the best you can hope for is a scar rather than an open wound.”

 “I would like to claim power and personal direction over my life. But not a day goes by that I do not experience a reminder of an event that left me at the mercy of strangers.”

“The United States prides itself on the freedom of the individual, but we are still a Puritan nation and obsessed with sex.”

Burke’s letter to the reader describes Every Cloak Rolled in Blood as an “attempt to capture part of mankind’s trek across a barren waste into modern times.” Modern times include “the recalcitrant and the unteachable” who refuse to wear masks during a pandemic because the selfishness of cultural grievance is more important to them than public health. Those grievances include being the butt of jokes told by the “Hollywood friends” of liberals on Saturday Night Live, a grievance that fails to consider what they have done to earn mockery. The trek includes a long history of violence and bigotry and oppression. Burke writes movingly about Native Americans who were slaughtered and brutalized by white soldiers who, instead of being tried for war crimes, were lauded as heroes.

Burke describes Montana landscapes with religious awe and views his characters through the focused lens of compassion. The novel is, in some sense, a howl of pain, notable more for the emotions it evokes than the plot. But it is also a reminder that we must always struggle to understand our place in the universe, to be a barrier against the historic march of evil, to be strong but polite, open but on guard, emotional but not helpless or hopeless.

RECOMMENDED
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“I close my eyes and see through the hole into a blue sky that offers no respite and is filled with the cacophony and the fury of carrion birds, like a dirty infection of the firmament itself.”

Aaron Holland Broussard is an 85 year old novelist whose daughter Fannie Mae has recently died.  Aaron is overwhelmed with grief and struggling to cope. When a swastika is painted on his door, State Trooper Ruby Spotted Horse responds to his call. Although Ruby is about 30 years younger than Aaron the two share an attraction (an eye-roll-inducing bit of male vanity). In her cellar, Ruby has secrets that are linked to two subsequent murders and Aaron becomes entangled in them. The book also deals with meth dealers, white supremacists and war crimes. Approaching the end of his life, Aaron sees the possibility for salvation in some people who really seem unredeemable 

As usual, the author’s writing is beautiful and his meditations on good and evil in the world are particularly heartfelt in this book. I had both the audio book and the ebook. Unfortunately, the audio book does not have the letter to readers at the beginning of the book. That is a shame, because in it the author explains why he writes generally and why he wrote this book specifically. His daughter died in 2020 and he eloquently describes what that loss meant to his family and to the world. He believes that this is his best book. I don’t agree with that assessment. 

The book is good, but it was way over the top with the supernatural [the author does not agree that they are supernatural] details that appear to a much lesser extent in some of the author’s other books. There is a whole army of ghostly soldiers and Fannie Mae appears frequently to advise her father. I didn’t like the ghosts in the author’s other books, and I don’t like them any better here. “Wayfaring Stranger” remains my favorite book about the Holland family. 

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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3.75 rounded upward. 

James Lee Burke is an icon, a Grand Master who’s written mystery novels, along with the occasional work of historical fiction, since the 1960s. Now he is 85 years old, and he recently lost his beloved daughter, Pamala. This novel is a tribute to her. 

My thanks to go Net Galley and Simon and Schuster for the invitation to read and review. This book is for sale now. 

Every Cloak Rolled in Blood is the fourth in the Holland Family saga. Our protagonist is Aaron Broussard. He is an 85 year old novelist who has recently lost his daughter, Fannie Mae. He feels a “loneliness that is almost unbearable.” He tells us, 

“I will not accept my daughter’s death. I will find a way to pull her back through the veil or untether myself and lie down in the bottom of a boat that has no oars and float down the Columbia and into the Pacific, where she will be waiting for me somewhere behind the sun.” 

There’s a horrifying passage in which he places the barrel of his gun in his mouth; but he doesn’t go through with it, and later tells us that he believes he will not be permitted to join her if he leaves this world by his own hand. 

The story commences with a young man vandalizing Aaron’s barn. Aaron recalls some local cops being unnecessarily nasty to Fannie Mae, so instead of turning the boy over to the cops, he makes a deal with him to have the kid work off the damage. There are other remarks laced in here and there that give a nod to our current national state of affairs regarding police brutality, and I appreciate these. 

In fact, the story is laced with a number of social justice issues, and Burke is, as usual, on the side of the angels each time; foremost is the horrific manner in which indigenous people of the Northern Rockies have been treated by the U.S. government, and continue to be. 

Over his last few novels, Burke has increased the amount of supernatural content in his work. For decades this aspect of his work was muted, smoldering as a part of the general ambience of the story. He’s always used the occasional Biblical reference, occasionally also borrowing from Greek mythology. In A Private Cathedral, a recent Robicheaux novel—the series that has met with the greatest public acclaim and for good reason—he included a scene that could not be perceived as anything other than supernatural. In fact, it is one in which both the protagonist and his lovable sidekick, Clete Purcel, witness the same event, so there can be no supposing it’s all in the protagonist’s head. It was brilliantly conceived and executed. Unfortunately, this book is not of the same caliber. 

I wrestled a great deal with my rating and review; a large part of me thought that when a beloved novelist is in his eighties and has recently lost a child, I should just give him the five stars. Yet another part of me, the part that won the internal debate, feels that to do so is unworthy of the respect this author has earned. It would be patronizing to say this is a great book when I am so ambivalent about it. So I’m playing it straight here. The supernatural aspect, as it is used here, overwhelms this story and damages it organizationally. It also causes the pacing to lag a bit. It’s not a terrible book, but it’s not up to Burke’s usual standard. 

But the aspect that bothers me most is the way the younger women in the story—not just one, mind you, but two—cannot wait, apparently, to get Aaron in the sack. Sister Ginny isn’t a good person, but she tries to seduce him anyway. Ruby Spotted Horse is a good, honorable woman, that rarest of all things: an ethical cop. She’s in her thirties, but when Aaron comes onto her, she doesn’t even hesitate. We learn that she was raising her niece, who died, and there’s a clumsy passage in which Aaron wonders aloud if Ruby is really up for a relationship with him given his age, but she assures him that they are bound together by their mutual losses. 

Right. Whatever. 

There are many lovely moments in this novel, all of them owned by Fannie Mae. There is such clear, obvious affection in the descriptions that I am a little surprised the pages don’t glow. 

The denouement, a mighty struggle involving the living and the dead, leaves me shaking my head, though. And when one of the latter, an evil spirit representing a horrible cavalry officer that once lived and killed in the vicinity, tells Aaron, “Pardon me for saying this, but you’re not the good father you think you are,” I want to sit right down and cry. 

This book is recommended to diehard Burke fans, and to anyone that needs a grief book.
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I’m familiar with James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux books (one of which I reviewed here). Before reading Every Cloak Rolled in Blood, I had not read any of his Holland Family Saga works. Y’all know how this goes. Now I gotta go read all of them. I need to win the Powerball and be independently wealthy just so I have time to read all of the books that are calling my name.

Aaron Holland Broussard is cut adrift. Since the sudden, violent death of his daughter, Fannie Mae, he has lost his anchor. Death isn’t unfamiliar to him, but the loss of Fannie Mae cuts deep – deeper than deaths on the battlefield in Vietnam, deaths of parents, deaths of friends. He is determined to find a way to reconnect with her, to bring her back or join her beyond the veil. He isn’t actively suicidal, but you get the feeling he wouldn’t mind if the Good Lord called his number.

When two local boys paint a swastika on his barn, his 911 call leads Broussard to an ally – a friend? a soulmate? – state trooper Ruby Spotted Horse. Ruby is also struggling with her own grief over the death of her niece, and, like many others in the story, is not entirely what she seems. She confesses to Broussard that she is one of a group called the Guardians, and that the Old People – monsters wrapped in myth and story from ages past – are trapped in her basement.

Broussard knows that people, that things, are not always what they appear to be. He’s seen – and talked to – Colonel Eugene Baker, the long-dead architect of a horribly brutal attack on a peaceful band of Blackfeet. He’s faced a malevolent little girl who looks like Ruby’s murdered niece, but probably isn’t. And as the evils of the past bleed over ever more forcefully into Broussard’s present, he knows that he must fight evil, in human or spiritual form, with everything he has. Otherwise, it may overtake them all, and Fannie Mae may be lost to him forever.

Burke’s books are always filled with turns of phrase sometimes graceful, sometimes spare, sometimes philosophical, and this book is no exception. That, for me, is one of the greatest pleasures of reading his novels – seeing how he will express himself when I turn the next page. Whether Burke wrote the words himself or, as he says in the note at the beginning of the book, “another hand wrote it for me,” the prose is magnificent, and it stayed with me long after the last page was turned.

Burke tackles a lot of chewy issues in this book. The pandemic, social distancing, BLM, white supremacy, twisted politics. But it all takes a backseat to the constant underlying thrum of the pain and loss a parent feels upon losing a child. If this story is Burke’s most autobiographical yet, he is surely sharing his grief with us here, and inviting us to feel its weight for a moment.

This is not necessarily an easy read, as emotionally laden as it is, but it is worthwhile. Love opens us up to pain and loss, but it also offers healing and redemption. Burke portrays both masterfully.
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I would like to claim power and personal direction over my life. But a day doesn't go by that I don't experience a reminder of an event that left me at the mercy of strangers. - James Lee Burke, Every Cloak Rolled in Blood. When James Lee Burke writes about his personal experiences, he is writing with a clarity few writers. This new book is a break from usual mystery series as it is more autobiographical and focuses on the death of his daughter. The storyline is full of the supernatural and perhaps some mental dissociation, but that is part of experiencing the black lake of grief.
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Burke, in the preface to this novel, writes of his daughter Pamala, her life, and his intense grief at her death.   Aaron, the 85 year old protagonist of this eerie and sometimes tough tale set in Montana, is also grieving the untimely death of his daughter Fannie Mae, a woman who had been beset at times by demons but who had a large and soft heart, especially for animals. He's struggling, hard, and then one day catches a teen painting a swastika on his barn.  Leigh's father is a former Klansman now hooked up with a woman running a church which is actually a cover for a motorcycle gang.  Aaron finds himself taken by Ruby Spotted Horse, a State Trooper who warns him off but she has something-or someone- in her basement.  Those who have read this series (and this latest will be fine as a standalone) know that Burke has a fascination with ghosts and the paranormal so will not be surprised that there are evil spirits afoot with which he, and Ruby, will struggle.  There's a war on the reservation, not only the current one with an evil meth dealer, but also a ghost war from a massacre.  There's cruelty, corruption, murder.  This is a relatively short offering from Burke but it's not a fast read because his writing demands attention.  It is however, a fascinating look at Montana past and present but more importantly at grief.  Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.  A don't miss for Burke fans and just a terrific read.
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I received a free electronic copy of this remarkable novel from Netgalley, James Lee Burke, and Simon Schuster publisher. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.  I have read Every Cloak Rolled in Blood of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work.  I am always thrilled to receive a new Burke novel, be it featuring Dave and Clete in Louisiana or Aaron Holland Broussard and family in the mountains of Montana.  Burke is one of those writers who, whatever focus he is writing from, he shares it in a way that it is exactly the perspective you will see it from.  

This book especially touched my heart.  Losing a child is the hardest thing we humans can experience.  Without apology, Burke lays his heart open to share his personal loss with us.  And those of us who have been there, that pain so devastating there isn't even a name for a surviving parent, appreciate the fact that he has been able to put words to it for us all. Thank you, James Lee Burke.  Almost everyone in my whole extended family has lost a child or young adult to an accident or military duty or illness.  This work gave me closure and solace I have not accepted until now.  It is a book I will want to share with all the parents of those cousins we have lost over the years. 

And you know the older we get, the easier it is to understand the whoo-whoo bits, as well.
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Worth the Fighting For

Montana author Aaron Holland Broussard can no longer see what is left for him. His world exploded into a million fiery fragments of hell the day his daughter died. He will not accept his daughter’s death, he will either find a way to bring her back or he will go to her. He says he feels like he’s in a house of mirrors and wants to break every one of them. In a wrenching scene we see him tasting the barrel of his gun…”Oh, God, don’t let me do this.” Heartbreaking business.

The physical world revs up to push the man even further. A teenage son of a former imperial wizard spray-paints a swastika on Aaron’s barn. The kid’s father is now active in a hate group with outlaw bikers, posing as a church. Two young meth-head members show up armed at Aaron’s in the middle of the night, possibly to take him out. Subsequent murders pop up, interwoven into all of this. Finally, a cold-blooded drug dealer arrives to deliver more evil to Aaron’s doorstep.

And the supernatural world has its part to play. Aaron’s lost daughter, Fannie Mae, answers her father’s pleas and appears to him, attempting to counsel and comfort. State trooper Ruby Spotted Horse reveals to Aaron she is the guardian to an underworld portal– spirits are locked up in her cellar. These spirits may include Major Eugene Baker, the man who pushed through the Marias Massacre of 1870, where over 200 Piegan Blackfeet human beings were butchered. Baker approaches Aaron in the guise of friendship, but he recognizes Baker as a threat not only to the living but somehow also a threat to Fannie Mae.

Friends question how much supernatural involvement can be directly related to the mental distress Aaron is going through. Aaron  subscribes to the belief some of James Lee Burke’s other characters do; his Dave Robicheaux has said he does not believe we all come from the same gene pool, there are monsters among us lying in wait to commit any kind of atrocity. In this respect Aaron is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s Sheriff Ed Tom Bell in “No Country for Old Men,” a man at a loss for what society has become, what evil it is capable of. In the Preface, Burke states “...I also believe the Garden of Eden is within our grasp…That’s what this book is about. Some scars never leave us. But scars can’t break us; only we can do that. As Ernest Hemingway said, the world is a fine place and worth the fighting for.” (Quote taken from the ARC), At 85 years old, Aaron Holland Broussard is not giving in to evil, though. He may be demoralized by the loss of his daughter, but he can not turn his back and let that evil stand.

The constant throb throughout the novel is the pain of Aaron’s loss. Author James Lee Burke lost his own daughter Pamela a year prior to the book’s writing and the torment is real in these pages. In the acknowledgements he thanks her, saying she literally helped him write the last few pages.

This is a magnificent book, easily one of his best. We can all be grateful this master is still delivering at the top of his game. Thank you to Simon & Schuster, NetGalley, and James Lee Burke for the advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This book was sent to me by Netgalley for review.  This is a well known author who is a genius at weaving a story.  This reads like nonfiction but is partly fiction.  Enjoy
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There  are times while reading where you feel transported, inside someone's head, and see things through different eyes. I felt that feeling numerous times during this book. James Lee Burke simply has a gift that cuts through the daily monotony of life and examines mortality, good and evil and the meaning of being human.

His way with prose is masterful. He has a gift in his way of looking at the past and the future, and I would gladly continue this reading journey with him.

I received a complimentary copy of this book book in exchange for an honest review.
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By Mystery Writers of America Grand Master James Lee Burke, is his 50th novel and most unique ever . . . it’s autobiographical in nature, a heart-wrenching lament in honor of his daughter Pamala, who, in August 2020, died unexpectedly while still in her mid-fifties, and it’s also a genre-jumping slice of paranormal escapist crime fiction drama that has it all . . . evil spirits, heroic guardians, and a tragic hero whose name is Aaron Holland Broussard; an 85 year old author.

The yarn begins when a teenaged boy spray paints a swastika on Broussard’s barn door in the mountains of western Montana, not far from the city of Missoula.  He files a report with local law enforcement and confronts the teen at his home in front of his father—who was driving the truck the boy was riding in when the vandalism occurred.  But the boy and his father refuse to apologize or rectify the damage.  The responding officer is a Montana state trooper named Ruby Spotted Horse, a member of the Blackfoot tribe, who, in the first supernatural twist, turns out to be the guardian who prevents evil spirits of the dead—known as The Old People—from escaping a portal of Hell beneath her house.  She is Broussard’s only living ally as he becomes the adversary of a ton of villains, including a methamphetamine dealer who’s suspected to have buried people alive, a crazed evangelical preacher who dreams of producing movies, and her congregation of outlaw bikers. The grieving writer also receives visitations from his dead daughter, Fannie Mae, who appears to offer advice, conversation, encouragement . . . and warnings from the spirit world in this most unusual novel.  One thing is for certain, it’ll nail you on page one and won’t let you go until, with tears in your eyes, you finish the last word of the last sentence on page 288.  Mr. Burke thinks it’s his  best ever work . . . and I find it hard to argue with that!!
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What’s it about (in a nutshell):
Novelist Aaron Holland Broussard is 85 and recently lost his daughter of 53, Fannie Mae, from a heart attack. In his daughter’s honor, he tries to save a few different members of the town’s underground drug trade while confronting evil past and present at its most horrifying.
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
The title intrigues me and, mixed with the cover picture of a burning house, makes me think of using a blood-soaked item (instead of a water-soaked blanket) to protect someone from a fire which is an unusual idea and thought. This is book 4 in a series, so there’s always that worry for me that I won’t be able to follow since I haven’t read the previous three, but thrillers often can be read as a stand-alone, so I’m not overly worried. The idea of supernatural outlaws caught my attention from the blurb, and my overall impression is that the story will be very intense. I think I’m in for a story that I won’t soon forget.
Actual Reading Experience:
The first aspect that stood out is the noir writing style, which is direct and almost staccato. It fit the setting of mid-west ranch lands so perfectly that it felt genuine and raw, much like the story. This is not a style of writing that I gravitate toward, but once I get used to it, I can see the beauty of telling a story this way.
The writing also portrayed what it’s like to grieve a loved one in a way that no other writing style would have done justice to. Aaron’s grief over losing his daughter is so perfectly poignant that I felt myself grieving with him. This is a lovely tribute to the author’s real-life daughter, who passed away in 2020.
I also loved the significant part that the supernatural world played in this good versus evil story. Aaron was forced to confront more evil in such a short amount of time than is even fathomable to most of us. The ghosts that make themselves known create such a significant element of suspense and intrigue while at the same time bringing in the afterlife of loved ones recently departed. The breadth and depth bundled into these parts of the story took my breath away.
Characters:
Aaron Holland Broussard is a successful novelist and respected member of a small mid-western town. He owns and maintains his beautiful ranch all on his own. When he loses his only daughter, his life is overwhelmed by grief and the many evils around him – natural and supernatural. This character, developed poignantly and beautifully, invited me to sit in his grief with him as he confronted each evil.
No matter how minor, all of the characters are developed, with the various sides making them who they are exposed to and laid bare for all to see.
To Read or Not to Read:
If you are looking for a poignant look at death and grief and good versus evil, Every Cloak Rolled in Blood is just that rolled into a crime thriller.
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In the introduction Burke says he thinks this is his best book. I don't agree, but, like almost anything he writes, it's a great read. He is a master of terse prose; in a very few words he can take your breath away with descriptions of the landscape or build a full-blooded, complicated character. His description of the author's grief at the loss of his daughter is raw and devastating.

As in all of Burke's books, the past is a major character - this time around it's 19th century massacres of Native Americans and 20th century Jim Crow malevolence. There is also, as happens in Burke's later works, a strong element of the supernatural, leading to a climactic battle of Good and Evil.

Even though this is one of a series of books about the Holland family, it stands well on its own. .
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Writer Aaron Holland Broussard is grieving the death of his daughter Fannie Mae. While trying to get on with his life, Aaron experiences some other world sightings. Trying to accept and understand what he sees he meets Ruby Spotted Horse who has many secrets of her own that only Aaron will understand. Fannie Mae tries to help her father handle his foes from the past and the present world, and to learn why he sees the past deeds so clearly and why he has interactions with them
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In the preface of his new novel #EveryCloakRolledInBlood, James Lee Burke says that he believes it to be his best book yet. I most adamantly agree. He also emphatically states that this book is a work of fiction, even though Burke and his alter ego author from #Every Cloak Rolled In Blood have both just suffered the death of an adult daughter and the overwhelming grief this has let loose. Aaron Holland Broussard is now being haunted by evil spirits, men who have been responsible for genocide throughout American and World History, and as has been said , those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Make no mistake about it, #Every Cloak Rolled In Blood is a morality tale, the likes of which brought back the terrors I experienced when I read Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown in college over fifty years ago. My only hope is that Burke found some solace when creating his latest masterpiece.
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James Lee Burke is simply brilliant.

Burke's daughter died two years back and in writing this book, he has a fictional daughter die. The grief that he feels is so vivid throughout this book. I don't think I have ever read an author so adequately capture and convey this emotion.

Every Cloak Rolled in Blood takes Burke into the world of mystical realism and it is such an integral part of the book that it lifts it beyond any of his other books.

The man has written another brilliant book.
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The Nature of Evil is to destroy. The Nature of Humanity is to provide a stalwart and unwavering front that annihilates those seeds that grind their way into the hearts of the good.

Every Cloak Rolled in Blood is a raw response by James Lee Burke in presenting the seeping stains and the sharp-ended aftermath of loss and profound grief. The world takes on a far different hue when your soul reflects the finality of death. Burke allows us into those private corners after the loss of his daughter, Pamala, in July of 2020. He threads his way into this novel with his mourning on the march. The storyline carries a heavy heart towards the sunrise instead of lingering forever in the dusk.

Aaron Holland Broussard has lived in many places in his eighty-five years, but Bitteroots Valley near Lolo, Montana is where his ranch stretches for acres. Broussard made his living as a successful writer. He wants for nothing. But the void within is the loss of his daughter, Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae was a lively soul who surrounded herself with animals and whatever she desired in the moment. Sometimes he catches a glimpse of her here and there. Goodness seems to stick around.

One morning Broussard notices a Nazi swastika painted on the side of his barn. He knows who is responsible. John Culpepper and his son, Leigh, finally admitted it. Broussard calls the state police and Officer Ruby Spotted Horse shows up. And here is where the Gates of Hell will swing open and the subcultures will fly through. Broussard and Ruby work together as the bottom feeders of life reveal themselves in many forms.......and not all of them are human. Fannie Mae will step forward as she warns her father of what is to come.......the past, the present, and the fear of the future.

Every Cloak Rolled in Blood packs and unpacks the crimes against humanity at large and the personal impact of individual cruelty against one another. Reflection never comes to evil doers. They seem to be on auto-drive. But Burke also lines this one with the edges of hope even though his own great personal loss would be expected to cloud it. He refers to it as "on the other side of the veil". The last few pages of this novel are written so profoundly from one who sat surrounded in grief, but who chose to move forward even on unsteady feet. A remarkable read.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Simon & Schuster and to the highly talented James Lee Burke for the opportunity.
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