Heralded by the New York Times as an "impressive, passionate" debut, Half of Paradise was published when Burke was still in his twenties. Toussaint Boudreaux, a docker – hardworking and looking for a break – earns extra cash as a prize fighter. But the only break he gets lands him in gaol and then on a chain gang. Avery Broussard, wayward son of an old plantation family, loses his freedom for a cartload of Prohibition moonshine and finds himself attached to the same work camp as Boudreaux. Neither would have chosen the life – blood, sweat and tears come with the territory – but each is determined to make the best of it or find a way out. Half of Paradise is a powerful novel of people from very different backgrounds who find their destinies tragically intertwined.
American mystery author, James Lee Burke, was born in Houston, Texas, explaining why most of the lead characters in his novels are Texan. He has won two Edgar awards, which is a very rare experience, and is a bestselling author of two short story collections and over thirty novels. Burke is best known for his Dave Robicheaux series. His Edgar Awards were for Black Cherry and Cimarron Rose. Two of his series were made into screen plays with each movie having a-list actors playing the Robicheaux character (Alec Baldwin - Heaven's Prisoners, and Tommy Lee Jones- In the Electric Mist).
A writer must usually hold down other employment while they attempt to gain a degree of following readers. Burke's various jobs included.......truck driver, newspaper reporter, social worker, land surveyor, unemployment system employee, Job Corps worker, teacher, and finally, novelist.
Burke lives in Montana with his wife, Pearl, two daughters, and four grandchildren. His favorite advice was given by Irving Stone, when Burke was nineteen.......... "Never write a story to pay your gas bill......if you do, be assured your utilities will be turned off".