I have always viewed James Lee Burke as a master of crime fiction, but one who was firmly rooted in his genre. "Feast Day of Fools" has completely changed my thoughts on Burke. Yes, there is crime, there is mystery, there is blood, there are grim, tough-talking characters, but honestly, it is everything beyond the genre constraints that kept me reading. Not always because I had to know what was going to happen next, but because I was in awe; reading "Feast Day of Fools" feels akin to standing in the presence of a master story teller and having him tell you to sit down and take a load off.
By that, I mean that as I turned the pages, I could see how Burke crafted the novel. It is not effortless- it owns up to its greatness with its imagery-intense landscapes and philosophical musings on the human condition- but it never reaches a level of pretension. I could easily compare this novel to works by Cormac McCarthy or Steinbeck, but I believe it is worthy to stand up on its own.