Every Cloak Rolled in Blood by James Lee Burke #BookReview #Supernatural #Mystery

In his most autobiographical novel to date, James Lee Burke continues the epic Holland family saga with a writer grieving the death of his daughter while battling earthly and supernatural outlaws.

Novelist Aaron Holland Broussard is shattered when his daughter Fannie Mae dies suddenly. As he tries to honor her memory by saving two young men from a life of crime amid their opioid-ravaged community, he is drawn into a network of villainy that includes a violent former Klansman, a far-from-holy minister, a biker club posing as evangelicals, and a murderer who has been hiding in plain sight.

Aaron’s only ally is state police officer Ruby Spotted Horse, a no-nonsense woman who harbors some powerful secrets in her cellar. Despite the air of mystery surrounding her, Ruby is the only one Aaron can trust. That is, until the ghost of Fannie Mae shows up, guiding her father through a tangled web of the present and past and helping him vanquish his foes from both this world and the next.

Drawn from James Lee Burke’s own life experiences, Every Cloak Rolled in Blood is a devastating exploration of the nature of good and evil and a deeply moving story about the power of love and family.

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

Novelist Aaron Holland Broussard is 85 and recently lost his daughter of 53, Fannie Mae, from a heart attack. In his daughter’s honor, he tries to save a few different members of the town’s underground drug trade while confronting evil past and present at its most horrifying.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):

The title intrigues me and, mixed with the cover picture of a burning house, makes me think of using a blood-soaked item (instead of a water-soaked blanket) to protect someone from a fire which is an unusual idea and thought. This is book 4 in a series, so there’s always that worry for me that I won’t be able to follow since I haven’t read the previous three, but thrillers often can be read as a stand-alone, so I’m not overly worried. The idea of supernatural outlaws caught my attention from the blurb, and my overall impression is that the story will be very intense. I think I’m in for a story that I won’t soon forget.

Actual Reading Experience:

The first aspect that stood out is the noir writing style, which is direct and almost staccato. It fit the setting of mid-west ranch lands so perfectly that it felt genuine and raw, much like the story. This is not a style of writing that I gravitate toward, but once I get used to it, I can see the beauty of telling a story this way.

The writing also portrayed what it’s like to grieve a loved one in a way that no other writing style would have done justice to. Aaron’s grief over losing his daughter is so perfectly poignant that I felt myself grieving with him. This is a lovely tribute to the author’s real-life daughter, who passed away in 2020.

I also loved the significant part that the supernatural world played in this good versus evil story. Aaron was forced to confront more evil in such a short amount of time than is even fathomable to most of us. The ghosts that make themselves known create such a significant element of suspense and intrigue while at the same time bringing in the afterlife of loved ones recently departed. The breadth and depth bundled into these parts of the story took my breath away. The only initial expectation that was fulfilled is that this is truly a story I won’t soon forget.


Aaron Holland Broussard is a successful novelist and respected member of a small mid-western town. He owns and maintains his beautiful ranch all on his own. When he loses his only daughter, his life is overwhelmed by grief and the many evils around him – natural and supernatural. This character, developed poignantly and beautifully, invited me to sit in his grief with him as he confronted each evil.

No matter how minor, all of the characters are developed, with the various sides making them who they are exposed to and laid bare for all to see.

To Read or Not to Read:

If you are looking for a poignant look at death and grief and good versus evil, Every Cloak Rolled in Blood is just that rolled into a crime thriller.

My Rating:


16 Replies to “Every Cloak Rolled in Blood by James Lee Burke #BookReview #Supernatural #Mystery”

    1. It was so poignant. And to know it’s largely inspired by the author’s own life is just heart wrenching.


    1. I’ve have to be in the mood for the noir style because it’s not one that instantly pulls me in but Burke’s books are a step above, for sure. What an imagination that man has!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As always your review is amazing and really brings this story to life. Sounds like a wonderful if somewhat emotional read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds so sad, and heartbreaking, but also emotional. Wonderful review, Tessa!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What intrigues me is the fact that the male lead is 85 and book sounds an action thriller but is a poignant story? Very interesting. Checking it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is very interesting. There’s is definitely the overriding crime thriller going on complete with drugs, murder, and KKK-type behavior that all needs to be stopped but the heart of the story is about dealing with grief. It all plays out and comes together inside a good versus evil theme. Not many people could find a way to bring that all together but James Lee Burke (who, like his character is in his 80s and recently lost his daughter) does.

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