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 Adler--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Amazon.com Audiobook Review
Actor Will Patton gives a quirky performance in James Lee Burke's intricately layered story. Following his earlier novel, Cimarron Rose, Burke returns to Deaf Smith, Texas, offering his reluctant hero, defense attorney Billy Bob Holland, another shot at redemption. Representing a local loser caught in a web of lies, Holland faces Earl Dietrich, an unwelcome newcomer whose money, influence, and condescending attitude rub the lawyer against the grain: "There was nothing directly aggressive about... Audio Cassette edition.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful: I See A Movie Franchise Coming..., July 23, 2003 Reviewer: yygsgsdrassil from Crossroads ...Billy Bob Holland reminds me of the southern Sheriff played by Bill Paxton in "One False Move" or Chris Cooper as the Texas Ranger in "Lone Star". Or Gary Cooper in those 40's/50's westerns. 'Course, in Lee Burke's Texas, murders and the overall evil men do take on quite a different flavor. *Quite* a different flavor. A Latin gang member is murdered by a lethal drug which has been punched in his face during a so called friendly boxing spar. A wildcatter initally accused of taking bearer bonds--Billy Bob's client--finds his mother's body exhumed and in his pick-up truck out in a dark and dreary field; this is a threat from Big Earl Dietrich to comply with some kind of land development deal with a promise of big resources...he wants IN, but Deitrich would rather just muscle his way in. The wildcatter is married to a blind Indian spiritlifter, who murders an intruder to her home so efficiently and thoroughly it seems like it was done in a mode other than self defense. The Big guy's son seems to have some scandalous problems with his sexuality and Billy Bob has somehow gotten a dose of a rare Asian jungle poison. Add to the mix some insane prison escapees, an able assistant, his son Lucas, and a lil fishing buddy and you have quite an intriging stage for mystery. Billy Bob Holland himself keeps hearing voices, seeing visions inspired by his dead Rangers partner, LQ Navarro. Whoooo-boy! Would this be a wild movie for a director to take on! My take on why Lee Burke goes to extremes on describing Deaf Smith and parts surrounding is that it makes his mystery more realistic and if he describes every iota of this countryside-- how it is hot on certain days, rainy on others, what kind of vegetation clings around, if there's a quicksandy, mildewy swamp around---maybe that can help rationalise why each character has his own strange way. An environment that varied and extreme is likely to harbor varied and extreme individuals. Anyway, this is a great mystery with superb setting and mood. And its so intense and real you can feel the horseflies whizzing at the back of your neck.