ORNATE ELEGANCE

Carved, painted, designed. Ornate elegance. Chinese antique porcelain and a unicorn music box. Hopi Corn Maidens.

THE DAY THE LEAVES FELL

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Although the leaves have been falling for about a week, this morning, we had a storm of leaves. They were falling so thick and fast for a few hours, it was like a weird weather event. Now, at four in the afternoon, it’s over.

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Our world is carpeted in millions of leaves that someone is going to have to clean up. If it doesn’t rain … and I do believe that rain is on its way. You can’t blow or rake wet leaves.

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Many of the trees, including quite a few oak trees, are now bare. Yet there are a few roses still clinging to the bushes in the garden.

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The forsythia bushes remain green while the Japanese maple is scarlet. Spots of dark red and gold peek through empty branches. It’s a strange time of year.

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Oh, did I mention that the temperature is still in the 70s? It may look like November, but it feels like September. We are scheduled for lower temps by the weekend … but only down to the mid fifties, which is downright balmy by New England standards.

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And there are probably a few million more leaves yet to fall.

JAMES LEE BURKE – HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN

HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN comes out December 1, 2015!

Abandoning the badasses in his usual Louisiana haunts, the Edgar-winning author crafts his first historical novel about oil, movies, and the American Dream.

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Like Babe Ruth, late in his career, pointing toward the center field bleachers at Wrigley Field before sending a ball soaring out of the stadium, James Lee Burke has managed, in one swift maneuver, to confirm and enhance his legacy. At the age of 77, the Edgar Award-winning crime novelist has written his best book.

Wayfaring Stranger is not like Burke’s previous novels, yet contains enough vintage Burke passages of pyrotechnic prose to light up the page, and remind the reader whose work rests in his hands. The historical novel introduces its protagonist, Weldon Holland, as a child growing up in rural Texas where he has a chance encounter with Bonnie and Clyde. From there we follow him through the combat of World War II, the rescue of a Jewish woman from a death camp, the rise of the commercial oil industry, and the lights, camera, and action of Hollywood nights.

American history has always been in the background of Burke’s crime novels, but Wayfaring Stranger is his first work of historical fiction. The genre change serves Burke’s writing well, and it could not have come at a better time.

It was a great read … and the next piece of the saga, House of the Rising Sun: A Novel, will be available December 1, 2015. I can hardly wait!

I have been a fan of Burke’s writing for more than 20 years. Unlike some other authors I could name, he actually writes his books himself. He isn’t a franchise. He’s an author and a brilliant one.

I’m also glad he wrote something other than another Dave Robicheaux detective novel. I love Dave and Clete, but they are getting a bit long in the tooth. Clearly James Lee Burke is more than a little tired of his characters and I have suspected for a while he was continuing to write them only because readers love them and the publisher finds them highly profitable.

I’m glad — despite pressure to keep writing the same popular characters — he is writing fresh, new material.