'James Lee Burke is the heavyweight champ, a great American novelist whose work, taken individually or as a whole, is unsurpassed.' Michael Connelly
On its surface, life in Houston is as you would expect: drive-in restaurants, souped-up cars, jukeboxes, teenagers discovering their sexuality. But beneath the glitz and superficial normalcy, a class war has begun, and it is nothing like the conventional portrayal of the decade. Against this backdrop Aaron Holland Broussard discovers the poignancy of first love and a world of violence he did not know existed.
When Aaron spots the beautiful and gifted Valerie Epstein fighting with her boyfriend, Grady Harrelson, at a Galveston drive-in, he inadvertently challenges the power of the Mob and one of the richest families in Texas. He also discovers he must find the courage his father had found as an American soldier in the Great War.
Written in evocative prose, The Jealous Kind may prove to be James Lee Burke's most encompassing work yet. As Aaron undergoes his harrowing evolution from boy to man, we can't help but recall the inspirational and curative power of first love and how far we would go to protect it.
Raging teenage hormones, gangster violence, class warfare, and a pink Cadillac stuffed with cash and gold bars set up Burke's latest novel, a mystery set in Houston, Tex., in 1952. Burke has a hit with this dark, atmospheric story of teenagers trying to make it through high school without getting killed by Mafia hitmen, low-life thugs, and greasers with oily ducktails and switchblade knives. Seventeen-year-old Aaron bumbles into a steamy teenage romance with Valerie Epstein, angering Grady, her rich country-club ex-boyfriend, who vows jealous revenge. With his prankster best pal, Saber, Aaron unwittingly steps into a messy world of violence that escalates to involve parents, punks, and the police. Beatings, arson, and a murder ramp up the tension as the boys are framed and futilely declare their innocence. Then Grady's pink Caddie full of money and gold is stolen and the Mafia steps in. They think it's their money, they want it back, and they believe Aaron and Saber have it. Burke portrays Houston as rife with crime, complete with a corrupt police force, and the boys have little hope of surviving this cesspool. Fortunately, they have good parents, an honest detective, and a savvy prostitute to back them up.