Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Heartwood (Billy Bob Holland #2)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  1,416 ratings  ·  72 reviews
A brilliantly layered novel of crime, character, and place from the two-time Edgar Award winner, Gold Dagger Award winner, andNew York Timesbestselling author ofSunset Limited.

Few writers in America today combine James Lee Burke's lush prose, crackling story lines, and tremendous sense of history and landscape.InCimmaron Rose, longtime fans of the Dave Robicheaux series fo...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published September 21st 2011 by Island Books (first published June 1st 1999)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Heartwood, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Heartwood

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,034)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
He's my favorite author. Read a Burke book and your in a dark theater by yourself surrounded and engulfed by his images. I've read them all but can only do so once every 3-4 months because in the end they are their message about the human condition is not hopeful.
I sometimes feel like my 'Great American Detective' shelf should be called 'Great American Vigilantes', considering that Spenser and Jack Reacher share space on it with Harry Bosch and Elvis Cole. (It's a very chauvinistic category I've created for myself, here. Have to see about fixing that.) Billy Bob Holland is a lawyer, and justice is more important to him than fitting nicely into the system.

Burke is amazing storyteller, and I don't mean just that he has a knack hand with plot. He uses langu...more
Feb 22, 2008 Clare rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: James Burke afficianados, people from Texas, those who like a good mystery
I love any book by James Lee Burke and am determined to read them all. I especially enjoy his descriptions of the Louisiana landscape. This book is different: it takes place in Texas and stars Billy Bob Holland, a lawyer. I am so enamored of Burke's other hero, Dave Robicheaux, that I couldn't help but wish he was in this book too. I think I'm getting a little crazy when I'm starting to think of a book character like Dave as real but that gives you an idea of how good James Lee Burke's writing c...more
I always give James Lee Burke's books five stars, because they are all outstanding. This time (1999) the main character is Billy Bob Holland, and it is before he marries Temple Carrol, his investigator. There are all kinds of interesting characters, most of whom could use the services of Billy as a lawyer, and the ghost of his former Texas Ranger partner, whom he tragically and accidentally shot to death. Lots of action, murder and some suspense.
Burke is one of the best writers, maybe the best writer I've ever read.. Heartwood #2 book in the Billy Bob Holland series. I read this about 10-12 years ago but was worth reading again..Holland an ex Texas Ranger now an attorney in a small hill country town west of Austin trying to find justice against all odds. His best friend who he accidentally killed visits him still....
Geri Taylor
I picked up this book on tape at a garage sale for fifty cents. (Sorry, Mr. Burke, no royalties there) but it did get me started following this magnificent author and his two characters, Robicheaux and Holland, along with his short stories.
Generally, I enjoy reading books with strong female leads, but Mr. Burke has be hooked!
The Billy Bob series is a great one. Burke really captures Texas (warts and all) very well. Looking forward to more from this series, as Dave Robicheaux can't go on forever.
Leon Aldrich
Burke does it again with another yarn spun in Texas. If there is another author on the planet who turns catchy phrases with such ease, please share em' with me...
Totally deconstruct F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby; swap around the characters; add drugs and some Native American magical realism; make the narrator a former Texas Ranger; set the story in the hill country west of San Antonio, and you will have something close to this crime novel from the fertile mind of James Lee Burke.

It even ends with a dead body in a swimming pool and a melancholy closing image much like Fitzgerald’s—not “boats against the current,” but a boy and girl in a customize...more
HEARTWOOD by James Lee Burke is 341 pages in hardback form. It is #2 in Billy Bob Holland series.

Brief Description:

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 a...more
"In my mind's eye I saw Ronnie Cross and Esmeralda Ramirez flying down an empty six-lane highway through the countryside, the chromed engine roaring, the green dials on the walnut dashboard indicating levels of control and power that seemed to transcend the laws of mortality itself.

I thought of horsemen fleeing a grass fire in Old Mexico and civilian soldiers who waited with musket and powder horn at an adobe wall and a preacher who baptized by immersion and created a cathedral out of trees and...more
Jenna Watt
FINALLY! What publisher would publish this piece of nothing. This was a terrible book. Not only were things happening that didnt matter there wasnt even a whole story. it was like if i were a receptionist in a lawyers office and only got bits and pieces to the case as he was putting the story together and i had no idea what he was putting together.. The characters were terrble and had hardly any personality. Also the main character was talking to his dead partner the entire book and he wasnt muc...more
Downloaded from Audible.com

Narrator: Will Patton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio, 2001
Length: 5 hours (abridged)

Publisher's Summary
In this story of haves vs. have-nots, past vs. present, justice vs. the justice system, Texas defense attorney Billy Bob Holland has his work cut out for him. According to Billy Bob's grandfather, you do well in life by keeping your roots in a clear stream and not letting anyone taint the water for you. But in Billy Bob's dusty little hometown of Deaf Smith, loc...more
L.A. Kent
Liked this and can appreciate that it is really well written. Just not as pacy as the Robicheaux series and the characters and storylines are quite gloomy, although very interesting.
James Seawel
James Lee Burke does not disappoint in Heartwood. It's not my favorite of his, but it's solid. Burke continues to paint a perfect portrait of the landscape and of the times of which he writes. He captures social classes and the regional identities of his subjects wonderfully. He continues his theme of good versus evil, battle of the sexes, and battles of the haves versus the have-nots. He tells the story of how Heartwood trees grow in layers from the inside out; this was told to the main charact...more
Didn't care much for this book, although I do enjoy most of James Lee Burke's novels.
The story generates a sense of irrelevance. The characters are not that strong or connected. The central character always seems to be reacting instead of being proactive and there is plenty of empty space in his life. A feeling of ineptitude seems to pervade the story and there is no purpose to anyone's life. Reading this story was more work than joyful diversion. There were a couple of interesting moments toward the end involving San Antonio's Riverwalk and The Alamo. The characters were simply...more
May 03, 2014 Dreama marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: james-lee-burke
Own. Haven't Read. 05/02/14
"HeartWood" Tells about all the undercuurrents in a small town both good and bad. There are people with money who use people and throw them away like garbage. There are others who go out of their way to help others. The author can tell you about places he's seen,the trees,land and flowers in a way that you almost feel like you are there!You can actually see them!He explains it all - the evil and the good in a very interesting way! I highly recommend this book!
I enjoyed this book. I really enjoyed this author.
I thoroughly enjoy reading Mr. Burke's stories. I admit his style is not straight forward, but it is a terrific pleasure.
Steve Reid
I saw several books on the shelf from this author and decided to try one. I'd give it an E for Effort but not much else: if you like vigilante detective lawyers who see apparitions of men who died alongside them then this book is for you. (I think that should sufficiently narrow the list of readers). Characters are rough-hewn and common caricatures and the plot is really hardly worth following.
"Heartwood", is the second in a series of stories 'starring' Billy Bob Holland, a defense lawyer who was a Texas Ranger. Like most of Burke's stories, it is beautifully written, haunting and you don't know what the hell motivates the characters to do the things they do. It certainly holds its own in his list of novels and if you are a fan of Burke, you will probably enjoy this book.
Another Billy Bob Holland mystery. Just like the prior BBH book. i think I will not read the third in the series. Too much the same formula. Honest former Texas Ranger fights the injustice of the rich and the criminals of the world, comes up on top in the end, but burdened with his emotional baggage. Not a happy read, but interesting and the bad guys get it in the end in spades.
Fredrick Danysh
Billy Bob Holland is defending the down trodden against the rich. He has visions of his Texas Ranger partner who he killed in a shootout in Mexico. His teenage love is back in town married to a rich man. In between the dope deals, the killings, and theft, he tries to maintain a good relationship with his illegitimate son aand cope with his own vicious nature.
Although the story was decent, I think I have reached some level of Burke overload or irritation with his repetitiveness and inability to change the voice of his characters. . .they practically all speak as one, almost down to the same inflection and tone (true for all of his books), and he seems to think his readers are idiots. Nevertheless, I will keep reading him.
Like most of Burke's novels, this is full of quirky and creepy characters. One wonders how they stay on the streets and out of jails or graveyards as long as they do.

I also just finished Upton Sinclair's "Oil!" and so read both and "Compare and Contrast" these two takes on oil company greed and corruption.
Adam Haan
I have never read this author before but I want to read more now. This book is about a tangled mess of crime, corruption, gangbangers and twisted human minds in South Central Texas. It is crime fiction but it has a little more depth than the typical mystery. I certainly recommend this book.
Billy Bob Holland lives in a gritty and ugly world. Bones don't knit cleanly and you can feel the grit between your teeth when you read about food eaten anywhere close open areas. These books are not for the faint of heart and not for those who see no grey where legality is involved.
I enjoy James Lee Burke - his style is different than other authors I read regularly. Being a native born Texan, this one definitely felt right in the dialogue and storyline. The communication (or sometimes lack thereof) between the central characters (primarily male) was believable.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 67 68 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Judgment Calls (Samantha Kincaid #1)
  • Bordersnakes
  • Pursuit
  • The Green Ripper (Travis McGee #18)
  • The Devil Knows You're Dead (Matthew Scudder, #11)
  • Cold Hit (Shane Scully, #5)
  • Time's Witness (Justin & Cuddy #2)
  • Crossroad Blues: A Nick Travers Mystery
  • Slide (Max & Angela, #2 - Hard Case Crime, #36)
  • Twelve Mile Limit
  • Mask Market (Burke, #16)
James Lee Burke is an American author best known for his mysteries, particularly the Dave Robicheaux series. He has twice received the Edgar Award for Best Novel, for Black Cherry Blues in 1990 and Cimarron Rose in 1998.

Burke was born in Houston, Texas, but grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. He attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of Missouri, receiving a...more
More about James Lee Burke...
The Neon Rain (Dave Robicheaux, #1) The Tin Roof Blowdown (Dave Robicheaux, #16) Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux, #3) The Glass Rainbow (Dave Robicheaux, #18) In the Electric Mist With Confederate Dead (Dave Robicheaux, #6)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“...young people...who were casually profane, as though the validation of their own power could be achieved only by their assault on the sensibilities of others.” 5 likes
“What kind of trees are those?" I asked.
"Heartwood," my father said. "They grow in layers, like the spirit does. That's what Grandpa Sam used to say, anyway. You just got to keep the roots in a clear stream and not let nobody taint the water for you.”
More quotes…