With Weldon Holland, bestselling author James Lee Burke has constructed a hard-nosed hero who relies on a deep well of integrity in the face of the direst situations. Wayfaring Stranger is a compelling thriller that begins with a chance encounter with outlaws Bonnie and Clyde.
The encounter shapes Weldon’s young life leading into battles in the trenches of World War II and then into the even murkier trenches of the burgeoning oil industry along the Texas/Louisiana coast.
Burke writes with clarity and honesty. He makes it look easy, which makes his characters come to vivid life. While the story takes turns toward a war novel, a romance, and then into the depths of cultural excess and even a touch of mystery, it never devolves into a genre exercise. Weldon is real, and his moral fiber is reliable in the face of genuine, worldly evils.
Burke gives considerable depth and care to the supporting players. Weldon’s wife, Rosita--a concentration camp survivor--as well as his partner, Hershel Pine, is colored with heartbreaking details. The trio escapes with their lives during the war to find that life chasing the American dream is even more treacherous.
Wayfaring Stranger is excellent in its purity. It is finely crafted and tuned sharp, a welcome addition to Burke’s already remarkable career.