SHORT STORIES

Harbor Lights: Stories

Grove Atlantic Jan. 2024. 368p. ISBN 9780802160966. $28. F
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Award-winning mystery writer Burke’s (Dave Robicheaux series) eight-piece story collection shines, from the atmosphere found while cherry picking in a northwestern Montana orchard to the smell of summer watermelons in the South. Beneath all the vivid scenery of pewter skies and heavy rainstorms, the tales are full of depictions of the great evil and adult cruelty at work in the world, blending ancestry and history with more recent days. In the title story, set in New Iberia, LA, in 1942, a young son on a business trip with his father witnesses the impact of his father’s affair. “The Wild Side of Life” explores the “blood for blood” culture at a Southern prison farm. “Strange Cargo” describes how true Southerners, whether soldiers, professors, or sheriffs, still do business, good or bad, by a handshake. These stories, while filled with dark themes, are bright with descriptive natural features, spanning from before the Civil War to more modern times, offering a look into the battlefield history of the South and how it remains alive.
VERDICT For Burke’s many fans and those who enjoy Southern tales.
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