In the fall of 1863, the Union army is in control of the Mississippi river. Much of Louisiana, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is occupied. The Confederate army is retreating toward Texas, and being replaced by Red Legs, irregulars commanded by a maniacal figure, and enslaved men and women are beginning to glimpse freedom.
When Hannah Laveau, an enslaved woman working on the Lufkin plantation, is accused of murder, she goes on the run with Florence Milton, an abolitionist schoolteacher, dodging the local constable and the slavecatchers that prowl the bayous. Wade Lufkin, haunted by what he observed—and did—as a surgeon on the battlefield, has returned to his uncle’s plantation to convalesce, where he becomes enraptured by Hannah. Flags on the Bayou is an engaging, action-packed narrative that includes a duel that ends in disaster, a brutal encounter with the local Union commander, repeated skirmishes with Confederate irregulars led by a diseased and probably deranged colonel, and a powerful story of love blossoming between an unlikely pair. As the story unfolds, it illuminates a past that reflects our present in sharp relief.
James Lee Burke, whose “evocative prose remains a thing of reliably fierce wonder” (Entertainment Weekly), expertly renders the rich Louisiana landscape, from the sunsets on the Mississippi River to the dingy saloons of New Orleans to the tree-lined shores of the bayou and the cottonmouth snakes that dwell in its depths. Powerful and deeply moving, Flags on the Bayou is a story of tragic acts of war, class divisions upended, and love enduring through it all.
Praise for Flags on the Bayou:
“[An] outstanding thriller . . . Burke stitches plot threads and historical details with ease, weaving it all into an urgent, propulsive story steeped in his deep personal connections to Louisiana. This is masterful.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The Civil War comes to New Iberia, Louisiana, the capital of Burke’s wondrous fictional empire… [Readers] may well agree that it’s his most probing examination of the enduring legacy of slavery… A grueling, compassionate demonstration that ‘the devil ain’t down in a fiery pit. He’s right here.’”—Kirkus (starred review)
“A remarkable, beautiful, edgy, and haunting novel.”—Booklist (starred review)
“A stunning work. Man’s addiction to darkness and evil is on horrific display, yet love’s fierce light shines through the poorest of souls. With a belief in God’s grace and redemption, they demand the courage to seek it, against all odds. Often I had to reread a sentence or paragraph, smiling and shaking my head at the power of words assembled that evoke emotional landslides no one creates like James Lee Burke. Get this now. It will take you apart and heal you. Lord, what a magnificent book!”—Nils Lofgren, Member of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and Member of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse Band
“James Lee Burke is an American icon, a writer of peerless prose and unmatched depth, a storyteller who faces down the darkness and guides us toward the glimmers of light. With Flags on the Bayou, he doesn’t back down from the horrors of American history, but brings to life those who perpetuated unspeakable evil and those who fought nobly against it, reminding us all that while the horrors may endure, so does the potential for grace, beauty, and redemption.”—Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author
Praise for James Lee Burke:
“James Lee Burke is the reigning champ of nostalgia noir.”—New York Times Book Review
“You can always count on Burke to deliver a white-hot page-turner.”—AARP Magazine
“Burke’s evocative prose remains a thing of reliably fierce wonder.”—Entertainment Weekly
“One of the finest novelists in North America.”—Margaret Cannon, Globe and Mail
“James Lee Burke is one of a small handful of elite suspense writers whose work transcends the genre, making the leap into capital-L Literature.”—Bookpage