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Bitterroot : A Novel

James Lee Burke

2,622 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0743204832 / ISBN 13: 9780743204835
Published by Simon & Schuster Trade, New York, NY, U.S.A., 2001
Condition: Fine
From Culpepper Books (Tacoma, WA, U.S.A.)

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A fine copy in like slipcase of the limited and signed edition. #108/150. Bookseller Inventory # 001115

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Bitterroot : A Novel

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Trade, New York, NY, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2001

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine Slipcase

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: First Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

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.

Review:

Ex-Texas Rangers are suckers for old friends in distress, so when Vietnam vet and recent widower Doc Voss calls lawyer Billy Bob Holland from Montana with an apparently innocent invitation to visit, Billy Bob packs up and "head[s] north with creel and fly rod in the foolish hope that somehow my own ghosts did not cross state lines."

Doc has managed to alienate everyone in town, including mining interests on the Blackfoot River; a drug-running biker gang; an enclave of white supremacists, led by slimy Carl Hinkel; the local mob connection, in the person of an even slimier Nicki Molinari; and the feds, who don't want anything interfering with their pursuit of both Hinkel and Molinari. After Doc's daughter is brutally raped by three of the bikers, and those three are murdered in a particularly nasty fashion, Holland must try to clear his friend of suspicion. As he ferrets through a tangled web of coincidence and connection, Holland risks losing everything and everyone dear to him.

The wild card in the pack is Wyatt Dixon, a psychopathic ex-con who holds Holland responsible for his sister's death, and who has followed him to Montana: "[Wyatt] recycled pain, stored its memory, footnoted every instance of it in his life and the manner in which it had been visited upon him, then paid back his enemies and tormentors in ways they never foresaw."

James Lee Burke's prose alternately sparkles with a perverse insouciance ("Lamar had gotten his. Big time. Soaked in paint thinner and flame-roasted from head to foot like a burned burrito.") and glows with a muted intensity ("I closed the door and slipped the bolt and went back to sleep and hoped that the sun would rise on a better world for all of us."). The author's capacity to add depth to his characters with a few well-chosen phrases remains striking: the town sheriff walks "heavily, like a man who knew his knowledge of the world would never have an influence upon it"; a group of college boys is "suntanned and hard-muscled, innocently secure in the knowledge that membership in a group of people such as themselves meant that age and mortality would never hold sway in their lives."

Is the Billy Bob Holland series (three novels and counting) just Robicheaux Redux? The ex-Texas Ranger is, as either man might admit, the spittin' image of Dave Robicheaux, Burke's Louisiana PI: simultaneously rugged and rage-filled, chivalrous and callow, debonair and disturbing. And like the Robicheaux series, the Holland novels drift effortlessly among genres: regional writing, gritty noir, classic PI. You can cavil that Burke is repeating himself--or you can rejoice that Burke is continuing to enlarge his pool of intense, lyrical crime novels. Personally, I plump for the latter. --Kelly Flynn

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