When Billy Bob Holland gets a call from an old friend in need, he closes down his Texas-based law practice for an extended trip to the Bitterroot Valley section of Montana. Once there, he finds that his friend, fellow Vietnam vet Doc Voss, has tangled with a local mining development company which is threatening to severely damage the area’s ecology. It quickly becomes apparent that on the side of the mining interests are some fairly ruthless anti-government types who will resort to virtually any means—including the rape of Doc Voss’ young daughter—to see that Voss backs off.
What Billy Bob does not realize at first is that one of the right-wing zealots/thugs is actually a recent prison parolee, Wyatt Dixon, who is intent on exacting revenge for his imprisonment and his sister’s death, both events he believes to have been caused by Billy Bob. Thus, under the guise of supporting the mining company, he is actively looking for the best—and most diabolical—way to kill Holland.
The novel contains a marvellously colorful and memorable cast of characters—including in addition to the coldly maniacal Dixon, a fading movie star (Holly Girard), her bestselling author husband (Xavier), a paranoid seductress with Mafia ties (Cleo Lonnigan), a righwing zealot (Carl Hinkel), a sadistic hiker (Lamar Ellison), and Wyatt Dixon’s “butt boy” (Terry Witherspoon)—but at the center of it, of course, stands Billy Bob Holland, an incredibly complex hero, a man tortured by the mistakes of his past and driven to make things, all things, right. What makes him especially fascinating is that beneath the guise of justice for the weak and downtrodden lies a tendency toward violence that at times becomes almost more terrifying than the danger he is trying to eradicate.
In Bitterroot, with its rugged and vivid setting, a plot with twists and turns and many unforgettable scenes, and crafted with the lyrical prose and the elegaic tone that has caused many critics to compare him to William Faulkner, James Lee Burke has written a thriller that is sure to surpass the success of his previous Billy Bob Holland novels.
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