Cover image for Bitterroot
Burke, James Lee, 1936-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2001]

Physical Description:
334 pages ; 25 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Grand Island Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Lake Shore Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Lancaster Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Orchard Park Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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Following his acclaimed bestseller Purple Cane Road, James Lee Burke returns with a triumphant tour de force.Set in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, Burke's novel features Billy Bob Holland, former Texas Ranger and now a Texas-based lawyer, who has come to Big Sky Country to fish and soon is 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.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."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.

Author Notes

James Lee Burke, winner of two Edgar awards, is the author of nineteen previous novels, many of them "New York Times" bestsellers, including "Cimmaron Rose", Cadillac Jukebox", & "Sunset Limited". He & his wife divide their time between Missoula, Montana, & New Iberia, Louisiana.

(Publisher Provided) James Lee Burke was born in Houston, Texas on December 5, 1936. He received a B. A. in English and an M. A. from the University of Missouri in 1958 and 1960, respectively. Before becoming a full-time author, he worked as a land surveyor, newspaper reporter, college English professor, social worker, and instructor in the U. S. Job Corps.

His novel The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected 111 times over a period of nine years, and upon publication was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He writes the Dave Robicheaux series and the Billy Bob Holland series. He has won numerous awards including the CWA/Macallan Gold Dagger for fiction for Sunset Limited and the Edgar Award in 1989 for Black Cherry Blues and in 1997 for Cimarron Rose. His short stories have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, New Stories from the South, Best American Short Stories, Antioch Review, Southern Review, and The Kenyon Review. Two of his novels, Heaven's Prisoners and Two for Texas, have been made into motion pictures starring Alec Baldwin and Tommy Lee Jones, respectively. He made The New York Times High Profiles List with Wayfaring Stranger.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Burke's Billy Bob Holland series jumped off to a terrific start four years ago with Cimarron Rose, in which the author injected new life into many of the familiar themes--especially a good man's attraction to violence--from his Dave Robicheaux novels. There was a new setting, West Texas, and a new hero who, though similar to Robicheaux, drew on a new kind of tradition (his ancestors' pioneer past). Heartwood followed in 1999, but there the similarities to the Robicheaux series dulled the emotional impact of the story. This third Billy Bob novel lands somewhere in the middle. Texas lawyer Holland is called to the Bitterroot Valley in Montana to help an old friend who is attempting to mount a one-man campaign against a mining company out to defile the ravishingly beautiful country. Holland's Texas past follows him to Montana, too, in the form of a sociopath with a grudge against the lawyer who sent his sister to prison. Longtime Burke readers will immediately spot plot similarities to two early Burke novels set in Montana: Black Cherry Blues, an award-winning Robicheaux novel, and The Lost Get-Back Boogie, in which the conflict was between small ranchers and the avaricious owners of a pulp mill. How much does this recycling get in the way? For devoted Burke readers, it's the difference between improvisation and repetition. Rather than being surprised when a familiar theme recurs in an improvised form--something Burke has done so well for years--we are dulled by the repetition of the same notes played in the same way one too many times. And yet, there is some marvelous writing here. Burke's patented lyricism has never been more beautiful--or seemed more fresh--than in his descriptions of the Montana landscape, and he does a wonderful job of contrasting that harmonious and peaceful setting with the jarring dissonance of failed human relations. This series is only an improvised lick or two away from returning to top form. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

A two-time Edgar Award winner, Burke touches on a variety of hot-button issues sure to thrill his fans in his first book since last year's Purple Cane Road. The author's popular protagonist, Texas attorney Billy Bob Holland, travels to big sky country for some fishing with Doc Voss, a friend who's relocated to Montana's Bitterroot Valley after his wife's death. Soaring descriptions of the majestic setting contrast sharply with the evil doings of the people who live there. Doc has made some powerful enemies in his campaign against a mining venture he believes would harm the economy and the pristine countryside. The stakes rise when his teenage daughter is raped in her bedroom. The rapists could be any of the white supremacists who live in the woods, randy bikers on the prowl, strange members of a conservative religious cult or even the Native Americans eking out a substandard living on the local reservation. Billy Bob and Doc also have to contend with celebrities wanting to experience "country life," organized crime figures, government agents and a sinister, recently paroled felon who blames Billy Bob for his wife's death. To top it off, Billy Bob suffers from guilt over the accidental killing of his best friend as well as nightmarish memories of Vietnam. It's only a matter of time before the powder keg blows. Those who relish Burke's patented mix of supercharged violence and overheated passions are in for a treat. (June 18) Forecast: While not quite in the same league as Purple Cane Road, this entry is likely to scale bestseller lists as well. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

How many bad guys can you fit into one crime novel? Too many, in the case of Bitterroot, Burke's latest Billy Bob Holland episode set in Missoula, MT. Violent bikers, West Coast mobsters, paramilitary types, indifferent agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and corrupt mining company personnel all figure into this rather confusing and disjointed plot. The abridged format probably aggravates the problem. As usual, the author paints vivid pictures: his descriptions enable listeners to see the Montana scenery and feel emotions with the characters, who are interesting and complex. Narrator Will Patton effectively captures the mood of the book. Burke fans will want this, despite its flaws. Recommended for suspense/ mystery collections where Burke is popular. Christine Valentine, Davenport Univ., Kalamazoo, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One Doc's deceased wife had come from a ranching family in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana. When Doc first met her on a fishing vacation nearly twenty years ago, I think he fell in love with her state almost as much as he did with her. After her death and burial on her family's ranch, he returned to Montana again and again, spending the entire summer and holiday season there, floating the Bitterroot River or cross-country skiing and climbing in the Bitterroot Mountains with pitons and ice ax. I suspected in Doc's mind his wife was still with him when he glided down the old sunlit ski trails that crisscrossed the timber above her burial place. Finally he bought a log house on the Blackfoot River. He said it was only a vacation home, but I believed Doc was slipping away from us. Perhaps true peace might eventually come into his life, I told myself. Then, just last June, he invited me for an indefinite visit. I turned my law office over to a partner for three months and headed north with creel and fly rod in the foolish hope that somehow my own ghosts did not cross state lines. Supposedly the word "Missoula" is from the Salish Indian language and means "the meeting of the rivers." The area is so named because it is there that both the Bitterroot and Blackfoot rivers flow into the Clark Fork of the Columbia. The wooded hills above the Blackfoot River where Doc had bought his home were still dark at 7 A.M., the moon like a sliver of crusted ice above a steep-sided rock canyon that rose to a plateau covered with ponderosa. The river seemed to glow with a black, metallic light, and steam boiled out of the falls in the channels and off the boulders that were exposed in the current. I picked up my fly rod and net and canvas creel from the porch of Doc's house and walked down the path toward the riverbank. The air smelled of the water's coldness and the humus back in the darkness of the woods and the deer and elk dung that had dried on the pebbled banks of the river. I watched Doc Voss squat on his haunches in front of a driftwood fire and stir the strips of ham in a skillet with a fork, squinting his eyes against the smoke, his upper body warmed only by a fly vest, his shoulders braided with sinew. Copyright © 2001 by James Lee Burke Excerpted from Bitterroot by James Lee Burke All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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