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Bitterroot [Hardcover]

Burke
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

23 July 2001
Following his acclaimed bestseller "Purple Cane Road," James Lee Burke returns with a triumphant tour de force. Set in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, home to celebrities seeking to escape the pressures of public life, as well as to xenophobes dedicated to establishing a bulkhead of patriotic paranoia, Burke's novel features Billy Bob Holland, former Texas Ranger and now a Texas-based lawyer, who has come to Big Sky Country for some fishing and ends up helping out an old friend in trouble. And big trouble it is, not just for his friend but for Billy Bob himself -- in the form of Wyatt Dixon, a recent prison parolee sworn to kill Billy Bob as revenge for both his imprisonment and his sister's death, both of which he blames on the former Texas lawman. As the mysteries multiply and the body count mounts, the reader is drawn deeper into the tortured mind of Billy Bob Holland, a complex hero tormented by the mistakes of his past and driven to make things -- all things -- right. But beneath the guise of justice for the weak and downtrodden lies a tendency for violence that at times becomes more terrifying than the danger he is trying to eradicate. As "USA Today" noted in discussing the parallels between Billy Bob Holland and Burke's other popular series hero, David Robicheaux, "Robicheaux and Holland are two of a kind, white-hat heroes whose essential goodness doesn't keep them from fighting back. The two series describe different landscapes, but one theme remains constant: the inner conflict when upright men are provoked into violence in defense of hearth, home, women, and children. There are plenty of parallels. Billy Bob is an ex-Texas Ranger; Dave is an ex-New Orleanscop. Dave battles alcoholism and the ghosts of Vietnam; Billy Bob actually sees ghosts, including the Ranger he accidentally gunned down....But most of all, both protagonists hold a vision of a pure and simple life." In "Bitterroot," with its rugged and vivid setting, its intricate plot, and a set of remarkable, unforgettable characters, and crafted with the lyrical prose and the elegiac tone that have inspired many critics to compare him to William Faulkner, James Lee Burke has written a thriller destined to surpass the success of his previous novels.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (23 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743204832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743204835
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,575,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Lee Burke is the author of many previous novels, many featuring Detective Dave Robicheaux. He won the Edgar Award in 1998 for Cimarron Rose, while Black Cherry Blues won the Edgar in 1990 and Sunset Limited was awarded the CWA Gold Dagger in 1998. He lives with his wife, Pearl, in Missoula, Montana and New Iberia, Louisiana.

Product Description

Review

"The New York Times" James Lee Burke writes exceptionally clean, unforced prose that has a pronounced streak of poetry in it.

Book Description

America¿s finest crime writer pitches his hero Billy Bob Holland deep into Montana ¿ Paradise to some, to others a savage wilderness --This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
DOC VOSS'S FOLKS were farmers of German descent, Mennonite pacifists who ran a few head of Brahman outside of Deaf Smith, Texas, and raised beans and melons and tomatoes and paid their taxes and generally went their own way. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Banal Evildoers Strike Close to Billy Bob 10 May 2004
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
In Bitterroot, the Billy Bob Holland and Dave Robicheaux characters become very similar. The stylish differences between them introduced in Cimarron Rose are almost entirely missing here. If you like the most violent and vicious of the Robicheaux novels of good versus evil, you will find Bitterroot equally appealing. If you get tired of reading about disgusting crimes and abuse of power against women, children, and the innocent, you will find much of the detail of this book repulsive. I graded the book down for having overdone those qualities and for having abandoned the story within a story element for developing Billy Bob's character that made Cimarron Rose so fascinating.
Billy Bob Holland is taken temporarily away from his normal haunts in Deaf Smith, Texas to the apparently tranquil, rural setting of Montana, near Missoula. His friend, Doc Voss, has given Billy Bob an invitation for a visit of indefinite length. Packing up his fishing gear, he hopes that ghosts don't cross state lines. But they do. However, the spirit of his old Texas Ranger partner, L.Q. Navarro, isn't present as often here as in the other Billy Bob Holland novels, and mainly plays the role of clue giver. Once there, Billy Bob finds that Doc Voss has everyone in an uproar. Voss is challenging the gold miners for dumping arsenic into the land. He takes on the local militia. Voss also runs afoul of those who just want to keep things peaceful.
Matters are soon complicated by the arrival of a nemesis for Billy Bob, Wyatt Dixon, who has just been released from county jail in Texas. Dixon left behind a drawing of a wheelbarrow full of severed heads . . . one of which belonged to Billy Bob. "I don't know him, Sheriff," replies Billy Bob to the warning.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  75 reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is as good a book as Burke's ever written. 18 Jun 2001
By Craig Larson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I read a review of this in _Booklist_ or _Library Journal_ or somewhere which suggested that the characters of Billy Bob Holland and David Robicheaux were becoming almost indistinguishable. So I was very worried about how this book would read, since this is something I've noted before, particularly in the last Billy Bob book, _Heartwood_, which really did read like a retread of a Dave Robicheaux book (_Cadillac Jukebox_), with little but the names of characters changed. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Even though he's dealing with the same concerns that he deals with in other books, _Bitterroot_ is entirely new and different territory for James Lee Burke.
Perhaps it's because the setting has moved from Texas to Montana, also the setting for the Edgar-winning _Black Cherry Blues_ from his Robicheaux series. But this doesn't read like a retread of the Robicheaux books. It's got the same mix of dangerous, lowlife characters whom our protagonist can't seem to stop stirring up. But the fresh locations help to revive and invigorate the proceedings.
Billy Bob isn't just a mirror image of Dave Robicheaux--he's much more extreme than Dave. His attraction to violence seems much more ingrained and difficult to overcome, and he spends quite a bit of his time in the book musing about this fact. Sometimes, you just want to whack Billy Bob (or Dave, for that matter) on the head and tell him to stop messing around with the lowlifes, but he just can't seem to help it. And, ultimately, this is what we read Burke for: the battle of good vs. evil.
Coming on the heels of _Purple Cane Road_, _Bitterroot_ suggests that Burke has found a second wind to his writing and I, for one, could not be more excited to see what's next.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrill a minute 15 Jun 2001
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Billy Bob Holland lives with the ghost of his best friend, L.Q. Navarro, the man he accidentally killed when they chased after drug smugglers in Mexico. Billy Bob actually sees and talks with Navarro, but cannot form any relationships with living people because of his all-consuming guilt.

When his friend Doc Voss invites Billy Bob to visit him in Bitterroot Valley, Montana, he closes his law practice and goes. Upon arriving, he finds Doc at war with a local militia, bikers, and a mining company destroying the ecology. When Doc's daughter is raped, her assailants turn up dead shortly afterward. The police arrest Doc, who is defended by Billy Bob. However, the lawyer has his own problems caused by a sociopath blaming Billy Bob for the death of his sister.

BITTERROOT is one novel in which the thrills never stop coming and every scene is loaded with action. The talented James Lee Burke gets readers interested even in his most vile character as well as the anti-hero Billy Bob, a believer of justice and not necessarily the law. Billy Bob is the focus of the tale, a flawed individual taking responsibility for something he will regret until he dies.

Harriet Klausner
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JAMES LEE BURKE IS ONE OF THE BEST WRITERS IN AMERICA TODAY! 10 July 2001
By Wayne C. Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I made a promise to myself after reading HEARTWOOD last year that I'd buy the next "Billy Bob Holland" novel in hardback when it came out, rather than waiting for the paperback edition. It's a promise I'm glad I kept. In James Lee Burke's newest novel, BITTERROOT, ex-Texas Ranger Billy Bob Holland is back in true form, ready to protect his family and friends, and to put down anyone who gets in his face. When Billy Bob goes to Bitterroot, Montana to visit his old friend, Tobin "Doc" Voss, he expects to have a nice, relaxing vacation with maybe a little "fly" fishing thrown in. It turns out, however, to be anything but relaxing. It seems that a local mining company is polluting the rivers around Bitterroot with cyanide and Doc Voss is trying to put a stop to it. The mining company decides to fight back by hiring some hard-nose bikers and members of a certain white supremacist group (led by Carl Hinkel) to try and intimidate Doc. Since Doc is a former SEAL and did his fair share of killing in Vietnam, he's not the kind of guy who generally backs down. When Doc's sixteen-year-old daughter, Maisey, is brutally raped by three bikers, everything takes a turn for the worse. The men suspected of the crime are released from jail due to a lack of evidence and then are murdered, one by one, by an unknown assailant. Because of evidence found at the crime scenes, Doc is the number one suspect for the murders, and he has to ask Billy Bob to represent him as his lawyer. As if Billy Bob doesn't have enough to deal with, an ex-con by the name of Wyatt Dixon shows up in Bitterroot, seeking revenge against the former Texas Ranger for the death of his sister (a woman who killed all of her children). Then, there's a mobster by the name of Nicki Molinari, who's trying to retrieve some stolen money from a woman Billy Bob happens to be sexually involved with. All of this is just the tip of the iceberg. Before the novel is over, the body count is going to be sky high, and Billy Bob is going to have to answer some tough questions about love, family, friendship, and his violent nature. Not even the ghost of his late friend and partner, L.Q. Navarro, will be able to help him with this. In BITTERROOT, James Lee Burke shines at his brightest as he juggles a dozen or more subplots, spinning and weaving them into a gripping tale of violence, suspense and redemption. The character of Billy Bob Holland will have to delve deeply into his heart and examine his feelings for his close friend, Carol Temple, while at the same time, acknowledging that his son, Lucas, is now a man and must be allowed to make his own decisions, right or wrong. Billy Bob must also find a way to deal with his violent tendencies, understanding that he only feels alive when putting down men who deserve to be killed. This is especially true for the character of Wyatt Dixon, a man who's as deadly as a rattlesnake and is determine to teach Billy Bob a thing or two about revenge by going after the people he loves the most. Though the book is filled dozens of main and secondary characters, Mr. Burke manages to breathe life into each and everyone one of them through the use of individual quirks and nuances. Few authors have the skill to do this. The writing, of course, is sheer poetry to read. Mr. Burke has a finely tuned ear for dialogue and a vivid eye for description, bringing words together that reach into the reader's heart and soul, making him or her at one with the story. I have to say that, after three novels, the character of Billy Bob Holland is beginning to remind me more and more of Dave Robicheaux. Both men are filled with guilt at the lost of a close friend or wife. Each one also has a strong loyalty to friends and family, not to mention a strict code of honor that enables them to do whatever is necessary in order to protect the weak and innocent. There's even a rumor floating around that Mr. Burke will eventually bring both characters together in one book. That is definitely something all of Mr. Burke's fans would happily die for. Read BITTERROOT and find out why James Lee Burke is now considered to be one of America's best writers, then check out the "Dave Robicheaux" novel, PURPLE CANE ROAD, and discover why millions of people are addicted to this great author.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darn near perfect 25 Jun 2001
By Sean T. Carnathan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a great book. Texan Billy Bob Holland struggles and often fails to control his capacity for violence. He goes to visit a friend in Montana, Doc Voss, who similarly battles his urges to settle things with guns and fists. After Doc nearly kills a biker in a bar fight, three bikers rape his daughter in an apparent act of revenge. But there are so many awful and violent people populating the town, all with mixed up motives and impulses, that the answers to the book's riddles are far from apparent. Billy Bob frequently talks to the the ghost of his friend LQ Navarro, whom he shot accidentally during a gun battle with Mexican drug dealers, adding a melancholy personification of his inner battles. Burke brings a strong literary touch to the tough guy genre. His books are packed with imagery and his characters are all unique (don't buy into the Robicheaux and Holland are the same character foolishness). This book is fabulous. You may find yourself compelled to read it in a single sitting.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Billy Bob in Montana 21 May 2002
By sweetmolly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Billy Bob gets a call for help from old pal Doc Voss who has relocated in Montana; I would say "remote" except the farm is only about a half hour from Missoula. In Montana terms, that is almost urban. Billy Bob closes up shop in Deaf Smith,TX for a three-month visit to the Big Sky Country. He does not explain how an attorney with an active practice can do this, but ours is not to question.
It seems Doc has offended every segment of society in his new home: corporate types, bikers, militia leaders, mobsters and the local law. Billy's arrival is the catalyst that sets off brutal rape, murder and mayhem. There are so many differing situations and motivations; it is difficult to keep score. As usual, Mr. Burke is lyrical in his scenic descriptions, though in this particular book, I could have done with a little less. There is hardly anyone to like or root for; Billy Bob is carrying such a load of anger and angst, it is hard to accept and sometimes even sympathize with many of his actions. But there is no one like James Lee Burke to capture an emotion and crystallize it:
"I knelt in the back of the church and prayed to be relieved of the anger that still throbbed in my wrists and left my mouth as dry as paper and my thoughts like shards of glass."
There are many characters and Burke makes each one memorable, if not likable. The only member of the cast that had my wholehearted support was the local sheriff who retained his sanity throughout.
I was drawn to buy "Bitterroot" because I enjoyed Billy Bob's first outing in "Cimarron Rose." This book does not have the centeredness of the latter. There are too many angry people.
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