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Without his résumé in front of you, you could never tell lawyer Billy Bob Holland (ex-Texas Ranger, ex-assistant US attorney) from Iberia's Dave Robicheaux. Billy Bob's passion for justice, like Dave's, is constantly battling the other passions that have engendered an unacknowledged son, Lucas Smothers, and that keep sending him into battle armed with more than his legal briefs. When Lucas is arrested for raping and murdering Roseanne Hazlitt, there's no question but that Billy Bob will defend him; the only question is how far he'll go. Ranged against Lucas are dyslexic, psychopathic Darl Vanzandt, the spoiled son of a wealthy East End millionaire; Garland T. Moon, the rabid jailmate whose off-the-record confession to a California murder Lucas overhears from his neighboring cell; and just about every law enforcement official resident in Deaf Smith, Texas, from smarmy jailer Harley Sweet to Mexican drug agent Felix Ringo. Burke saves Lucas's murder trial for the end, but the real action takes place long beforehand, as Billy Bob goes head to head with Ringo, Moon, the Vanzandts, two sheriffs, and his own defense witnesses. Each confrontation, as in the Dave Robicheaux novels, is engorged by the hero's overwhelming memories of his own family's involvement with evil: his father's violent death; his great- grandfather's spectral romance with Jennie, the outlaw Rose of Cimarron; and his own accidental killing of L.Q. Navarro, the Ranger partner who haunts his daily rounds as if he hadn't been dead 11 years. Other riddles about the past keep the pot boiling so furiously it's a wonder Burke can get it to the table.
All the roiling intensity of the Robicheaux stories. Even the ragged ends make other mystery novels look anemic.
A: Some of my literary influences are William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, Robert Penn Warner, James T. Farrel, and Gerald Manley Hopkins.
Q: I've read that you were once a social worker on skid row. Can you describe that experience, and did it influence any of your books?
A: I learned what it was like to live in a slum, where slumlords make large profits off misery. However, 35 years later we put the mentally ill on the street to fend for themselves. Our social evolution seems to have gone into abeyance.
Q: If you had to give up writing, what would you see yourself doing?
A: I would never give up writing!
Q: You split your time between Missoula, Montana, and southern Louisiana. What draws you to these two locations?
A: These are the two places I love the most.
Posted June 11, 2012
I didn't like the over detailed description of the environment and the dialogue was too red neck, which is a shame because the author has created some interesting characters.
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Posted May 28, 2001
Cimarron Rose is a typically offbeat James Lee Burke tale, set in the small town of Deaf Smith, Texas. Defense attorney, Billy Bob Holland, is asked to take on the cases of two young men, and soon finds himself in the middle of a complex set of corrupt relationships that will not be sorted out unless he does it. The book has a fascinating story within a story delivered in the form of a journal inherited from his Great-grandpa Sam that Billy Bob reads almost daily while pursuing the case. The book has fascinating characters whose evil, blindness, and carelessness make the story develop in unexpected ways. Although the book has much violence in it, there is a genuine attempt to keep the violence within some sort of limits that makes the book more appealing. I like books that feature significant character development, and this one does an exemplary job with Billy Bob and Lucas Smothers, who is accused of a rape and murder. These two men are very complicated but in a way that will draw you in, and cause you to root for them to keep following their ideals and dreams. The backdrop is a crooked town, in a corrupt county, with lots of bent government types running around. Although probably no worse than a lot of other places, this book is about a sort of Texas Sodom and Gomorrah. There is a need for someone to do more than what is required, and Billy Bob takes on that role. You will find those who are satisfied with their wealthy lives just as culpable as those who are totally corrupt. Fans of the Dave Robicheaux novels will find this one follows the general approach of those rich, complex stories. Clearly, Billy Bob is a fellow who operates well outside the law, a sort of modern day Lone Ranger. At the same time, he can barely keep himself from going off the deep end mentally. As a result, he is sort of like a ticking time bomb, and you keep expecting him to go off. And he does. The plot culminates in a trial that presents the kind of unexpected developments that you will recognize from Perry Mason stories. After you finish reading this novel, you should think about when you should follow God's law, when men's laws, and when your own conscience. How would you have handled the dilemmas presented here for Billy Bob and Lucas? How could they have handled them better? Live in the present and make a pathway for good! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution
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All I can say, is I've read the first 14 of the Dave Robicheaux series, and just started the Billy Bob Holland series....no matter how large the character or how small - Burke writes each character with such intensity - and so human. I honestly couldn't wait to get home from work this evening to finish the book....
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Posted February 27, 2004
Once I started this story and never having become familiar with Mr. Burke's work. I found myself indulging in the atmosphere he so artistically lays out of the south. His characters are real and vivid. I never new what course the story was going to take. Some of the twist caught me off guard although in a pleasant sort of way. He is a maste at setting the tone of a richly detailed crime story of the south. This story is fully rewarding of the award it recieved and Mr. Burke is one the best in the history of this genre.
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Posted October 24, 2014
In my opinion not u p to Burke's usual Dave Robicheau stories. His "Holland" series is better but Robicheau is the best. All of his characters share certain pasts. They are alcoholic, have made mistakes and are haunted by ghosts. Plays well in Robicheau but becomes a little self-plagerous on the others.
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