Hackberry Holland may have been the last of his kind, straddling the ways of the 19th century as the 20th dawned and progressed through World War I, as James Lee Burke captures the riotous times and personalities in this wonderfully told story. It begins with Hackberry as a sometime Texas Ranger in Mexico where he discovers a hidden artifact which may or may not be the Holy Grail while looking for his estranged son, now a Captain in the U.S. Army commanding Black troops,
The cup plays a central role in the novel, with a very rich man in San Antonio, from whose property Hackberry removed it, claiming possession, and Hackberry keeping it hidden. Meanwhile the author turns his attention to the son’s experiences in the trenches and his wounds at the Battle of the Marne, as well as Hackberry’s rational and irrational behavior, especially with regard to the two women in his life.
This novel is another example of how Mr. Burke creates outstanding tales and characters, written in superb language, providing deep insights into the personalities populating it. The descriptions of the times and environment are without equal.