Crime and the Cultural Landscape: A Series on Detective Fiction

James Lee Burke

Black Cherry Blues (1936- )


  • Born in 1936 in Houston, Texas, his father was a natural gas engineer.
  • Married Pearl Pai Chu in 1960; has four children, James, Andree, Pamela, and Alafair.
  • Attended University of Southwest Louisiana and University of Missouri (B.A. 1959; M.S. 1960).
  • Currently lives in Lousiana and Montana.


  • Early jobs included being a surveyor, social worker, newpaper reporter, and Job Corps instructor; also taught Enligsh at University of Southern Illinois, University of Montana, Miami-Dade community College, and Wichita State University.
  • Received a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 1986 for The Lost Get-Back Boogie, which had taken a decade to be published and garnered than 90 rejection slips.
  • Awarded an Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel by the Mystery Writers of America in 1989 for Black Cherry Blues and in 1997 for Cimarron Rose.

Major Writings

Half of Paradise
To the Bright and Shining Sun (1970)
Lay Down My Sword and Shield (1971)
Two for Texas (1983), later published as Sabine Spring (1989)
The Lost Get-Back Boogie (1986)

"Dave Robicheaux" Crime Novels
The Neon Rain
Heaven's Prisoners (1988)
Black Cherry Blues (1989)
A Morning for Flamingoes (1990)
A Stained White Radiance (1992)
In the Electric Mist with the Confederate Dead (1993)
Dixie City Jam (1994)
Burning Angel (1995)
Cadillac Jukebox (1996)
Purple Cane Road (2000)

"Billy Bob Holland" Crime Novels
Cimarron Rose (1997)

Biographical Sources, Critical Sources and Reviews

  • For critical and biogrphical information, see the following Gale publications:  Contemporary Authors, Volumes 13-16; Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, Volumes 7, 22, 41, and 64; and Contemporary Authors, Autobiography Series, Volume 19 [contains portrait].   Gale Literary Database (Contemporary Authors Online) can be accessed online through a subscribing library at
  • Some reviews:
    Armchair Detective, Winter, 1989, p. 22.
    Los Angeles Times Book Review
    , October 8, 1989.
    New York Times Book Review, October 8, 1989.
    (Chicago) Tribune Books, September 10, 1989
    Washington Post Book World, September 10, 1989

Retired Discussion Series

Debbie Sturman, Director
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