Today I have the pleasure of welcoming my mother-in-law Cathy back to the blog to share with us her latest review!
Weldon Holland #1
James Lee Burke
Simon & Schuster
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Amazon)
In 1934, sixteen-year-old Weldon Avery Holland happens upon infamous criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow after one of their notorious armed robberies. A confrontation with the outlaws ends with Weldon firing a gun and being unsure whether it hit its mark.
Ten years later, Second Lieutenant Weldon Holland barely survives the Battle of the Bulge, in the process saving the lives of his sergeant, Hershel Pine, and a young Spanish prisoner of war, Rosita Lowenstein—a woman who holds the same romantic power over him as the strawberry blonde Bonnie Parker, and is equally mysterious. The three return to Texas where Weldon and Hershel get in on the ground floor of the nascent oil business.
In just a few years’ time Weldon will spar with the jackals of the industry, rub shoulders with dangerous men, and win and lose fortunes twice over. But it is the prospect of losing his one true love that will spur his most reckless, courageous act yet—one that takes its inspiration from that encounter long ago with the outlaws of his youth.
Wayfaring Stranger is the first book I've read by James Lee Burke. The dust jacket states this book is a thriller and Mr. Burke has won 2 Edgar Awards. Quite impressive. I was expecting a "who done it" mystery, but that's not exactly what I got. Instead, Wayfaring Stranger is a piece of literary prose. Mr. Burke's use of metaphors and literary references creates a rich and descriptive story that envelops us as we read his novel. We get an in depth sense of the post-Depression Era and WWII through the eyes of our protagonist, Weldon. By the time he rescues Rosita from the concentration camp, it's no surprise to us that he will risk everything for her, including his life.
After the war, he finds Rosita and marries her. They return to Texas and begin to make a success in the oil business. Weldon, being the principled man that he is, never backs down from his ideals and crosses the wrong people. When this occurs, we let go of the frustration and tension of the slow building story and watch with baited breath to see if Weldon can still remain the upstanding person that we've grown to know. All while the bad guys do everything that they can to destroy him.
The intrigue that is in play is very similar in nature to how spy novels are written. Mr. Burke takes us to the last page making us wait to see if Weldon breaks down; if he caves and takes the easy way out. These kinds of stories put me on edge because I always want good to win over evil. We are definitely kept guessing in this novel.
Wayfaring Stranger takes us through the Dust Bowl, the Ardennes, out on oil rigs, Hollywood and even insane asylums! And while we read, we can vividly picture each location and feel the tension oozing off the page. Each character comes to life so vividly that we find ourselves strangely attached to them. The biggest surprise I found about this book was the love story. The only thing stronger than Weldon's moral values was his love and dedication to Rosita.
This book may take a little patience to read, but part of that is due to wanting to know what happens to these characters. It is well worth our time to become involved in this story and wait out the end.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.