From the Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of the mystery novelist James Lee Burke, (books by this author) born in Houston, Texas (1936). He's best known for his series of detective novels featuring Dave Robicheaux, an ex-New Orleans policeman, Vietnam veteran, and recovering alcoholic. The first novel in the series was The Neon Rain (1987) and the most recent, The Tin Roof Blowdown, came out this past summer (2007). Burke said, "I believe that whatever degree of talent I possess is a gift and must be treated as such. To misuse one's talent, to be cavalier about it, to set it aside because of fear or sloth is unpardonable."
James Lee Burke is one of my favorite writers. He wrote Crusader's Cross which I just read and think that it's very nearly perfect: He writes so well about setting (New Iberia, Louisiana), racism, and class; dialog is really good; characterization is right on ... and he philosophizes subtly. And he's deep. Highly recommended. His early books are raw and very dark. Those may not appeal to you. Start with Crusader's Cross.