I've read many of James Lee Burke's books, and this is perhaps one of my favourites. Faded and jaded lawmen - often with personal history of the Vietnam or Korean wars - are characteristic of Burke's crime thrillers. Either Dave Robicheaux in Louisiana, or this series with Hackberry Holland in Texas. Text is evocative, characters often violent, and the landscape as central as any of the protagonists. If you read Burke, you'll be reminded of Cormac McCarthy's 'No country for old men' - but Burke did it first, and the profound considerations of good versus evil, tied with the very real and extreme criminality of the villains, make these novels unique and highly intelligent. And the plots really do last until the final page.
What's perhaps most interesting about this and other Burke novels are that the 'heroes' are often as flawed as the villains - and they know it. Burke promotes a dystopian view of humanity, where there is a very fine line between the law keepers and the law breakers - all are driven by selfish and self-serving motives, but only one side has a badge.
That's not to say there isn't hope, and there's always a thread of redemption in these novels. I especially like Burke's old-fashioned, liberal approach to causation. Whilst the stories always have a smattering of genuinely 'evil' characters (who usually get their cumuppance), there are also many in the middle, simply caught up in the rip tide, breaking the law and essentially weak, trapped but desperate to escape - think Begbie versus Renton in 'Trainspotting' and you'll get the picture.
That's enough waffling. Get it, read it, and bask in the pleasure of good writing, thrilling plots, and descriptions of the desert landscape that will leave you gasping....Continua