'The crime book of the year is unquestionably James Lee Burke's HEARTWOOD . . .there is no better crime writing coming out of America' EVENING STANDARDDeaf Smith, Texas, a small town with small town problems until the local boy made good Earl Deitrich decides that he isn't prepared to share his kind of good fortune with anybody else. Wilbur Pickett is a retired rodeo rider with big dreams. Dreams of a secure future for himself and his native American wife, a blind woman who sees more than a blind woman should thanks to her ancient heritage. When Wilbur happens upon a parcel of land with black gold waiting for the taking he also happens on Deitrich and a whole bunch of violent problems. Only lawyer Billy Bob Holland is prepared to stand up for Wilbur, to stand against the juggernaut that is Deitrich and his corrupting influence.
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Whether he's writing about the Louisiana Bayou Country (in his Dave Robicheaux books) or the Texas hill towns around Austin (in his series about former Texas ranger Billy Bob Holland), James Lee Burke has deep roots in the American soil that link him to some of the great adventure writers of the past such as Jack London and Mark Twain. Like them, Burke writes novels illustrating how failure shapes a man much more than success does.
Central to Burke's second Billy Bob novel (Cimarron Rose was his first) is Wilbur Pickett. Wilbur had a brief moment of glory as a rodeo cowboy before sliding into a downward cycle of luckless enterprises. He ends up laboring for a wealthy family, the Dietrichs, in the Texas town of Deaf Smith. The Dietrichs accuse Wilbur of stealing some bearer bonds, and Billy Bob--now a defense attorney--reluctantly take his case. He is hesitant (because he idolizes Peggy Jean Dietrich), and for good reason: Billy Bob discovers that her husband Earl may be involved in shady, even violent, business practices.
Other ghosts from the past also haunt Billy Bob: he accidentally killed his former partner on a drug raid in Mexico and still hears his voice. And then there's Holland's illegitimate son Lucas, who is growing up with problems of his own. The weight of all this back-story might overwhelm a lesser writer, but Burke manages to make it seem as natural as the soft wind that stirs the tumbleweed in the town of Deaf Smith. --Dick AdlerFrom the Inside Flap :
A brilliantly layered novel of crime, character, and place from the two-time Edgar Award winner, Gold Dagger Award winner, and New York Times bestselling author of Sunset Limited.
Few writers in America today combine James Lee Burke's lush prose, crackling story lines, and tremendous sense of history and landscape. In Cimmaron Rose, longtime fans of the Dave Robicheaux series found that the struggles of Texas defense attorney Billy Bob Holland show Burke at his best in exploring classic American themes--the sometimes subtle, often violent strains between the haves and the have-nots; the collision of past and present; the inequities in the criminal justice system.
Heartwood is a kind of tree that grows in layers. And as Billy Bob's grandfather once told him, you do well in life by keeping the roots in a clear stream and not letting anyone taint the water for you. But in Holland's dusty little hometown of Deaf Smith, in the hill country north of Austin, local kingpin Earl Deitrich has made a fortune running roughshod and tainting anyone who stands in his way. Billy Bob has problems with Deitrich and his shamelessly callous demeanor, but can't shake the legacy of his passion for Deitrich's "heartbreak-beautiful" wife, Peggy Jean.
When Holland takes on the defense of Wilbur Pickett--a man accused of stealing an heirloom and three hundred thousand dollars in bonds from Deitrich's office--he finds himself up against not only Earl's power and influence, but also a past Billy Bob can't will away. A wonderfully realized novel, rich in Texas atmosphere and lore, and a dazzling portrait of the deadly consequences of self-delusion, Heartwood could only have been written by James Lee Burke, a writer in expert command of his craft.
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