Every Cloak Rolled In Blood

Mysterious Book Report No. 490

by John Dwaine McKenna

Every Cloak Rolled In Blood,  (Simon & Schuster, $27.00, 288 pages ISBN 978-1-9821-9659-2), by Mystery Writers of America Grand Master James Lee Burke, is his 50th novel and most unique ever . . . it’s autobiographical in nature, a heart-wrenching lament in honor of his daughter Pamala, who, in August 2020, died unexpectedly while still in her mid-fifties, and it’s also a genre-jumping slice of paranormal escapist crime fiction drama that has it all . . . evil spirits, heroic guardians, and a tragic hero whose name is Aaron Holland Broussard; an 85 year old author.

The yarn begins when a teenaged boy spray paints a swastika on Broussard’s barn door in the mountains of western Montana, not far from the city of Missoula.  He files a report with local law enforcement and confronts the teen at his home in front of his father—who was driving the truck the boy was riding in when the vandalism occurred.  But the boy and his father refuse to apologize or rectify the damage.  The responding officer is a Montana state trooper named Ruby Spotted Horse, a member of the Blackfoot tribe, who, in the first supernatural twist, turns out to be the guardian who prevents evil spirits of the dead—known as The Old People—from escaping a portal of Hell beneath her house.  She is Broussard’s only living ally as he becomes the adversary of a ton of villains, including a methamphetamine dealer who’s suspected to have buried people alive, a crazed evangelical preacher who dreams of producing movies, and her congregation of outlaw bikers. The grieving writer also receives visitations from his dead daughter, Fannie Mae, who appears to offer advice, conversation, encouragement . . . and warnings from the spirit world in this most unusual novel.  One thing is for certain, it’ll nail you on page one and won’t let you go until, with tears in your eyes, you finish the last word of the last sentence on page 288.  Mr. Burke thinks it’s his  best ever work . . . and I find it hard to argue with that!!

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