Deaf 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.
James Lee Burke is the author of many previous novels, including twelve featuring Detective Dave Robicheaux. He lives with his wife, Pearl, in Missoula, Montana and New Iberia, Louisiana.
All James Lee Burke's Phoenix paperbacks are now in the same terrific livery James Lee Burke has won the CWA/Macallan Gold Dagger once and the Edgar Award twice All his most recent novels have been NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers and he is also a SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author 'Burke's plotting is as innovative as it is plausible, but it is in his feel for Texas that his prose truly sparkles. He captures its mixture of rustic innocence and shotgun justice, its beauty and vast indifference' EXPRESS 'Burke is the poet of the tortured South and never fails to connect at all levels' TIME OUT 'Burke is a prodigiously accomplished writer, and HEARTWOOD displays to the full his gifts ... An irresistible combination of western feuding and southern lyricism' SUNDAY TIMES
James Lee Burke's men and women are creatures of sometimes uncanny instinct, but also of prejudice, deep-rooted hatred, divine wisdom and blundering hope. This is Kansas, where brutal poverty and callous wealth have rubbed one another raw. The good and the ugly are up against the handsome and wicked with no possible outcome except carnage. Burke is less a crime novelist than a lyrical one, capturing the slow drawl of Southern voices, the sundowns and the dawns, and the savage scenery of the place, the roughness of the seasons and the harshness of the land. Heartwood is an unfolding tragedy, loaded with excitement, threat and suffocating suspense. It is also a morality play with gothic characters and terrible punishments. Review by Frances Fyfield, whose books include 'Blind Date' and 'Staring at the Light' (Kirkus UK)
A second rangy Texas crime opera (Cimarron Rose, 1997) from the Edgar-winning chronicler of bayou detective Dave Robicheaux. This time out, Deaf Smith attorney Billy Bob Holland is handling what looks like a little case: the defense of Wilbur Pickett, a resounding flop who's been accused by local Croesus Earl Deitrich of stealing $300,000 in bearer bonds and an antique watch. But nothing ever stays little for long in Burke's monumental novels, and this case simmers with rumors that the watch rightly belonged to rolling-stone Skyler Doolittle; that Deitrich accountant Max Greenbaum was at the point of challenging his boss's story when he was killed by gang-bangers in Houston; and that the power behind the dangerous games of a Deaf Smith gang called the Purple Hearts is Deitrich and his gay-bashing gay son Jeff. Billy Bob, still haunted by his high-school fling with Deitrich's wife Peggy Jean - an affair she seems indecently eager to resume - can't swing a dead cat around his homestead without hitting other predators and the little people they prey on. No sooner has rascally Deitrich pilot Bubba Grimes offered to give evidence against Deitrich than he breaks into the home of Wilbur's blind wife Kippy Jo, and she's facing murder charges for shooting him. And when Skyler, hustled into custody by another Deitrich plot, takes it on the lam, his escape ensnares both the fellow-convict who helps him and the sadistic deputy bent on tracking him down. It's all perfectly familiar to Burke's legion of fans, of course - from the ancient romance with the spoiled rich girl to the corruption of wealth and power to the violence seething inside gang-bangers and heroes alike - and it's all done to a turn. Forget Raymond Chandler. The obsessive return of Burke's ambitious themes, together with his characters' inexhaustible capacity for courage, tenderness, and rage, makes him the Faulkner of the American crime novel. (Kirkus Reviews)
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