book beginnings on Friday: Two for Texas by James Lee Burke

Thanks to Katy at A Few More Pages for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

I couldn’t resist a historical novel – NOT mystery – by James Lee Burke.

According to the back-of-the-book blurb, this very short little book (under 150 pages) involves two convicts escaped from a Louisiana prison who play a role in the Texas Revolution. It begins:

The first day that Son Holland arrived in the penal camp, manacled inside a mule-drawn wagon with seven other convicts, he knew that he would eventually escape, that he would die before he would spend ten years in a steaming swamp under the guns and horse quirts of malarial Frenchmen with Negro blood in their veins and a degenerate corruption in their hearts. But he was just barely nineteen then, still sufficiently naive to believe that his will alone was enough to win his freedom. He didn’t know that almost two years would pass before his escape would come almost by accident, and that he would have to help murder a man to accomplish it.

Yes, I’m from Texas, and yes, I had to look up quirt: “a riding whip with a short handle and a rawhide lash.”

I feel hooked already! I love James Lee Burke, and a slim little book like this just begs me to devour.

What are you reading?

4 Responses

  1. Hi Julia,

    This is not an author I am familiar with, but those first lines would definitely see me coming back for more!

    You can almost see and feel the terrible conditions, just from those words and you really do need to know whether Son Holland is able to stay a free man or not.

    I did check out James Lee Burke and some of his other books and I have added him to my ‘maybe’ list….

    Thanks for sharing

  2. This book was a surprise to me because I know him as a mystery genre author. I love his usual books; well-written, lyrical, beautiful, evocative mysteries generally set in New Iberia Parish in Louisiana (some exceptions: Texas and Montana). They represent the location expertly, and deal with some very heavy issues wisely, and read almost like poetry. I’m a fan. This was a bit of a departure from his usual.

  3. Proves it’s easier to think about freedom than it is to achieve it. Would like to read it. Have never read James Lee Burke. Are his books stand alones?

  4. His mystery novels star Dave Robicheaux, police detective, with a number of other serial characters: his buddy Clete Purcel, his wives, his daughter, local community figures. But you could certainly pick up any one out of sequence.

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