James Lee Burke has many different books, and they should all be read in order.
If you read these books in order, you will be introduced to the popular characters of Dave Robicheaux, the Holland family, and more.
James Lee Burke’s books are set in the wide-open skies of Montana.
Since he released his first book in 1965, Burke has published over 45 books, as well as many other works.
If you want to hear more about James Burke’s novels, you’ve come to the right place! Find out more about his books in order with this ultimate guide!
About James Lee Burke’s Books
James Lee Burke was born in December 1936. He is an American author who is best known for the Dave Robicheaux series.
He has won many awards for his novels over the years, including an Edgar Award for Black Cherry Blues.
The character of Robicheaux has been portrayed on the screen twice.
Burke has also written 5 miscellaneous novels, as well as 3 separate series about the Holland Family.
Burke was born in Houston, Texas. He attended the University of Louisiana and the University of Missouri where he studied for degrees in English Literature.
He worked in a number of different jobs over the years, and some of the books that he had written were rejected.
He worked as a truck driver, a newspaper reporter, and a social worker.
Dave Robicheaux Books In Order
The Dave Robicheaux series is James Burke’s more popular work. It follows the life of detective Dave Robicheaux in Louisiana and Montana.
The series begins in New Orleans. Burke is well known for his fantastic descriptive prose which sets the scene behind Dve Robicheaux.
This is the first book in the Detective Dave Robicheaux Series. The New Orleans Detective, Dave, has fought many battles.
He has been up against others in Vietnam, and up against killers and hustlers.
He has been lost without his wife’s love, and he haunts the intense French Quarter, which is where he calls home.
In this story, he becomes involved in a case of a young prostitute. Her body is found in a bayou, and he is thrust into the seedy world of drug lords.
Robicheaux must then face the criminal underworld, while also coming to terms with his bruised heart.
- Fantastic setting descriptions
- Sometimes the descriptions are quite long-winded
This is the second book in the Robicheaux series. This sees Dave leave New Orleans and head to the bayou as he seeks a quieter life.
He has stopped doing detective work and has stopped on the booze. He has also left New Orleans to live in the beauty of Louisiana’s bayous.
However, there is a plane crash in the Gulf which brings with it a netherworld of murder, crime, and deception.
Robicheaux confronts Bubba Rocque who he has known since childhood. He is faced with a lot of drama and violence.
- Thrilling storyline
- Descriptions can be quite long at times
This novel is the third in the Robicheaux series. It won the Edgar award for best novel!
Evil crept into Robicheaux’s world in this novel, and destroyed the woman he loved! Now, it is threatening the life of his child.
Robicheaux finds himself framed for murder, and he is traveling far from his home in Louisiana to clear his name and save his family.
In Montana, he is seeking justice and revenge!
- Winner of the Edgar award for best novel
- Covers the same subject matters as the previous novels.
This is a very popular novel by Dave Robicheaux. In this novel, we see Dave desperately holding together the pieces of his shattered life.
The detective has rejoined the police force and he finds himself wounded when he is transporting two death-row prisoners.
He begins trailing a killer into the heart of the underworld. He becomes embroiled in a world of drug dealers and prostitutes.
During this novel, he has to face his biggest enemy: himself.
- Very engaging story
- Can be quite long-winded at times
In this book, Robicheaux travels to the mountains in Montana to help out a friend. While he is there, he unearths a larger plot that is a risk to them both.
Weldon Sonnier, an oil speculator, is the patriarch of a family who is intimately bound to the CIA, the Mob, and the Klan.
When the family is connected to a murder, Robicheaux is pulled into the family that is laden with murder, incest, and madness.
- Great characterization of Robicheaux
- Not the best story compared to the others
This novel follows Robicheaux as he attempts to confront the demons that stand in the way of his salvation.
Hollywood enters New Iberia and the specters waiting in the shadows for Dave are reawakened. He is faced with ghosts of a history that is better off left undisturbed.
He finds himself hunting a serial killer and he finds himself face to face with those who know his darkest torments.
- The story develops and takes a different path
- Can be quite tiresome at times
This book is set off the coast of Louisiana. It focuses on a buried Nazi submarine that Dave has known about since childhood.
He experienced nightmares surrounding the Nazi sailors just offshore.
He stumbled upon this submarine when scuba diving as a teen, but he kept it a secret for many years.
- Great character development
- Slow at times
Sonny Marsallas is a New Orleans street hustler.
He entrusts Dave Robicheaux with a mysterious notebook that kicks off a set of incidents and raises some questions that require answers!
- A very atmospheric story
- There is some repetition throughout the novel
James Lee Burke has been known as a national treasure. In this thriller, Dave Robicheaux is looking into the arrest of Aaron Crown, who was arrested for an old murder of a famous black civil rights leader.
The family of Crown was shiftless timber people who had ties to the Ku Klux Klan.
Dave Robicheaux is the only one who worries that he has been used as a scapegoat for the guilt of a generation!
- Great characterization
- Quite a repetitive story
The crucifixion of a labor leader named Jack Flynn remains an unsolved atrocity in Louisiana.
Flynn’s daughter returns to the site of her father’s murder, and it becomes clear that the past will not stay in the past for this family.
Robicheaux and his partner are looking into this case. They combine brilliant prose and suspense in this novel.
- Excellent characterization
- Similar to the other books above
This novel follows Robicheaux. In this novel, he has to confront the secrets of his long-forgotten past.
Mae Guillory was murdered outside the New Orleans nightclub. Robicheaux’s mother ran out on Robicheaux and his father when he was just a boy.
More than 35 years after Guillory died, her son is looking to find out what happened to her.
- Very atmospheric storyline
- Very slow to get going
In this novel, a teenage girl is killed. She was the victim of a savage rape.
Dave Robicheaux is looking to investigate this story and Tee Hulin who turns out to not be the actual killer.
- This storyline is fantastic
- Complicated storylines
This novel sees Dave Robicheaux return to New Orleans. He is investigating the attack on a Catholic priest and the murder of a few teenagers.
The memories of his life in New Orleans haunt him throughout the novels and it exposes new wounds and dangers.
- This novel is very atmospheric
- Focuses on Dave Robicheaux’s past a lot in this novel
This novel follows Dave as he begins a search for a prostitute that he met decades ago.
She has dangerous ties to the mob, and this, in the wake of a series of murders, proves very dangerous for Dave.
- Interesting storyline
- Feels similar to some of the other novels
In this novel, Dave Robicheaux finds himself at the center of a dangerous mystery that involves a girl from his past, stolen money, and gritty casinos.
- Very atmospheric
- The descriptions are fairly long-winded
This story sees Dave Robicheaux return in another adventure. This time, he is fighting not just against crime, but also for life in New Orleans.
This is because the book is set in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
- This novel deals with very important issues
- Sometimes repetitive and long-winded
This book sees Dave return, but this time he is traveling to the wilds of Montana.
His wife and friend have gone to live on an old friend’s ranch to enjoy their distance from Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina.
However, when two students are murdered in the hills behind where they are staying, Dave finds himself investigating.
- Graceful prose
- Very strong narrative
- Long descriptions
This story sees Dave back in New Iberia, Louisiana.
He is involved in the most dangerous case of his career in this novel, which looks into the murder of 7 young women in the local area.
The deaths look like they have been carried out by a serial killer.
- Great characterization
- Slow at times
Dave Robicheaux is in a recovery unit at the beginning of this story in New Orleans.
However, he is now fighting an enemy who is more dangerous than the person who shot him earlier in the year.
He is being treated with morphine, which is threatening to wreak havoc with his life due to the addict in him.
- Very interesting storyline
- Shows his character traits well
- Strays from the focus of the series
In this book, Dave battles a very dangerous villain. Asa Surrette, who narrowly escaped the death penalty for a string of murders, is back to cause more chaos!
- Well-written novel
- Sometimes loses your attention
In this novel, Burke’s most beloved character returns. He is a haunted man, who is stuck in the past in a lot of ways.
He is lost because of the acts that he committed in Vietnam.
- Describes the setting very well, making it a very atmospheric novel
- Goes off-topic at times
This is the 22nd novel in the series. It was voted one of the best crime novels by The New York Times Book Review in 2019.
In this novel, the death of a young woman sees Dave Robicheaux looking for the answer. The case takes him to Hollywood, and back to the backwoods of Louisiana.
- Great storyline
- Can be repetitive at times
This is the latest novel in the Robicheaux series. It shows Dave Robicheaux battling the scariest adversary he has ever faced.
Forget ordinary murderers and consider a time-traveling assassin with superhuman powers!
- Very good storylines
- Edgy narrative
- Quite a lot of violence
James Lee Burke has also written many different books that take place within one universe, and follow the Holland family.
Each novel can be read as a standalone novel, but if you read them as part of a series, then you will learn more about the family.
It is best to read these novels in order of publication.
While you will experience jumps in time if you read the books in this order, it is a very rewarding way of reading the books.
This is the first book that follows the Holland family. It was published in 1971. This story introduces Billy Bob Holland, who is a product of the South.
This book introduces lots of new characters. It is set in a border town alongside a growing civil rights movement.
- This is a great introductory novel
- It is difficult to find a hero in this novel
This is the second book by Burke that introduces the Holland family. This book features Son Holland who is the great-grandfather of the beloved hero Billy Bob Holland.
He escapes from a prison camp in Louisiana alongside a Native American woman.
- This follows a very interesting storyline
- Can be slow at some points in the book
This is the third novel that follows the Holland family. In this novel, Billy Bob Holland is forced to face up to the past.
He must do this in order to save his son from a murder conviction.
- This is a fast-paced thriller
- Quite a dark storyline
This story shows the struggle of the defense attorney Billy Bob Holland.
Holland takes on the defense of Wilbur Pickett, a man who was accused of stealing an heirloom and lots of money from Deitrich’s office.
- Thrilling storyline
- Can be repetitive at times
Billy Bob Holland heads to Montana with his old friend Doc Voss.
This book sees a battle with a ruthless local mining company whose operations are having a large impact on the community.
- Riveting characters
- The ending was disappointing for some
This is another Billy Bob Holland book, which follows on from the one above. In James Burke’s novel, he finds out that jail cells have doors that revolve.
He also realizes that the government that he has sworn to serve may have become his enemy.
- Great characterization
- Intriguing plot
- Difficult to follow
When Hackberry Holland became sheriff of a town near the border with Mexico, he had hoped to leave some things behind.
However, when he discovers the bodies of 9 aliens, he realizes he won’t be able to get out as easily.
- Intriguing story
- Some long-winded descriptions
This novel by author James Lee Burke features Hackberry Holland Sheriff.
In this story, James Burke returns to the Texas border where a serial killer who was presumed dead is actually alive. Hackberry Holland ends up fighting for survival.
- Great storyline
- Can be quite repetitive at times
This thriller is drenched with atmosphere and intrigue. It sees a young boy go from a chance encounter with Bonnie and Clyde to the trenches of World War II.
- Fantastic characterization
- Quite repetitive at times
This book follows a violent encounter that leaves four Mexican soldiers dead.
Hackberry Holland manages to escape the country along with a stolen artifact that is thought to be the mythic cup of Christ.
- Great storyline
- Can be far-fetched at times
This book is set in 1950s Houston. This story follows Aaron Holland, a high school junior whose world is shifting under his feet.
This story includes restless teens, drive-in movies, and stoic fathers.
The underlying class wars are present in this book, along with the conflict that they are seeing in Korea.
These two things are the backdrop to the growth of Aaron Holland’s backdrop.
In this story, you will find yourself empathizing with the challenges that Aaron faces. It explores first loves, friendship, and violence.
It is a story that shows how people can find their way in a changing world.
- Lots of great history
- Coming of age story
- Difficult to connect with the characters
This story is set in the American West in the 1970s. It is filled with wheat fields and frolicking animals.
Aaron Holland has been observing this, riding the train and finding odd jobs.
He finds himself in Denver, with some work on a farm. Here, she meets Joanne McDuffy, a college student and artist.
They connect immediately, but their romance is made complicated by McDuffy’s past.
- A great story highlighting good and evil
- Quite minimalizing at times
In this novel we see James Lee Burke continue this Holland family saga.
It follows a writer, Aaron Holland Broussard, who is grieving the death of his daughter. At the same time, he is battling supernatural and earthly outlaws while he is grieving.
Aaron attempts to honor his daughter’s memory by saving some young men from a life of crime and by finding a murderer who has been hiding in plain sight.
- Very emotional novel
- Quite personal to Burke
- Differs from the other novels in the series
Standalone Novels By Burke
Burke has also written some standalone novels. These include:
- Half Of Paradise
- To the Bright and Shining Sun
- The Lost Get-Back Boogie
- White Doves at Morning
- Flags on the Bayou: A Novel
Short Story Collections
James Lee Burke also has a collection of short stories. He has written these over the course of his career.
Now you have all the information that you need on Burke’s novels! He has many different novels.
His most famous series is the Dave Robicheaux series, which many people absolutely love!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Novels Has James Lee Burke Published?
James Lee Burke has published over 40 novels. His Dave Robicheaux series has 23 books, and the Holland Family novels account for 13 novels. He has also written some standalone novels.
Where Is Burke From?
James Lee Burke was born in Houston, Texas, he went to the University of Louisiana and the University of Missouri.
He studied English Literature. He has worked in a number of different jobs over the years, before starting his career as an author.
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