Heartwood

James Lee Burke, Author
James Lee Burke, Author Doubleday $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-385-48843-3
Paperback - 978-0-375-70775-9
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-671-58107-7
Hardcover - 560 pages - 978-0-375-40849-6
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Paperback - 338 pages - 978-0-7528-3419-1
Mass Market Paperbound - 400 pages - 978-0-440-22401-3
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Open Ebook - 215 pages - 978-0-307-80747-2
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Burke's newer series hero, Billy Bob Holland (Cimarron Rose, 1997), could have been separated at birth from Burke's long-time protagonist, ex-New Orleans cop Dave Robicheaux. Although Holland is a lawyer in the rolling hill country north of Austin, Tex., he shares Robicheaux's sensibilities: he's brutally honest, haunted by his past, kind to children, protective of the underdog, a lover of the beautiful country in which he lives. Most of Burke's villains are arrogant millionaires; here, the dark heart belongs to Earl Deitrich from Houston, who spread his money around the town of Deaf Smith and married the prettiest girl, Peggy Jean Murphy, Holland's high-school sweetheart. Deitrich's pervasive evil extends from threatening Kippy Jo and Wilbur Pickett into ceding him the oil-rich Wyoming property Kippy Jo inherited from her grandfather, to arranging the false arrest of a business victim, to arson and murder in an alliance with a San Antonio Chicano gang. Meanwhile, Deitrich's insolent son Jeff elopes with the sister of the gang's leader; their breakup places Holland's own, illegitimate son in peril. Despite a circuitous, often confusing plot, the novel compels for its lush portrayal of exquisite countryside; its beautifully composed, mood-setting scenes that pace the action; and the leisurely introductions that give dimension to the many eccentric characters. At one point, a Deitrich victim sums up a consistent Burke theme: ""Law punishes a poor man. Rich man don't have to account."" Holland agrees, but succeeds in turning the tables in this rewarding novel. Major ad/promo; author tour. (Aug.) FYI: Cimarron Rose won the 1997 Edgar Award for Best Novel.
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