Rain Gods

Author: 
James Lee Burke
This book surprised me.  The main character is a man well into his seventies; a troubled POW who spent an eternity in a dreadful camp in Korea.  He is a former lawyer, drunkard, and womanizer.  He passes time by acting as a small time sheriff in a more small-time town.  One night  nine young immigrant Asian women are lined-up in a ditch and brutally executed by a gang of sociopaths.  Their bodies are bulldozed over and a nonverbal message is sent to a mob boss.  A lone witness contacts Sheriff Hackberry Holland's office and the hunt is on.  Immigration and the FBI fight to take over the investigation.  Holland and his deputies are pushed aside; viewed as flies on a farm animal.  The team of killers are all guns-for-hire.  In-fighting amongst them begins.  Sides are drawn.  The most dominant killer, called the Preacher, has the ability to stay a step ahead of the law while dishing out his own form of twisted justice.  He is trying to backtrack and make certain that all witnesses leading to him are eliminated.  There is the usual assortment of colorful characters that Burke brings to all his novels.  This is the first in a new series for Burke.  It is a spin-off of the Billy Bob Holland books.   Billy Bob is mentioned a few times, but is not a character in this story.  There are three pairs of improbable romantic relationships;  all with their flagrant flaws.  This 430-page novel flows.  I snuck away to read it when I was supposed to be cleaning house.  It was worth the time invested.  I don't know if our future house-guests will concur.