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Extended Audio Sample Heartwood Audiobook, by James Lee Burke Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,032 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James Lee Burke Narrator: Will Patton Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Billy Bob Holland Series Release Date: July 1999 ISBN: 9780743548199
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Few writers in America today combine James Lee Burke's lush prose, cracking story lines, and tremendous sense of history and landscape. In Cimarron Rose, longtime fans of the Dave Robicheaux series found that the struggles of Texas defense attorney Billy Bob Holland show Burke at his best in exploring classic American themes -- the sometimes subtle, often violent strains between the haves and the have-nots; the collision of past and present; the inequities in the criminal justice system.
Heartwood is a kind of tree that grows in layers. And as Billy Bob's grandfather once told him, you do well in life by keeping the roots in a clear stream and not letting anyone taint the water for you. But in Holland's dusty little hometown of Deaf Smith, in the hill country north of Austin, local kingpin Earl Deitrich has made a fortune running roughshod and tainting anyone who stands in his way. Billy Bob has problems with Deitrich and his shamelessly callous demeanor, but can't shake the legacy of his passion for Deitrich's "heartbreak-beautiful" wife, Peggy Jean.
When Holland takes on the defense of Wilbur Pickett -- a man accused of stealing an heirloom and three hundred thousand dollars in bonds from Deitrich's office -- he finds himself up against not Earl's power and influence, but also a past Billy Bob can't will away. A wonderfully realized novel, rich in Texas atmosphere and lore, and a dazzling portrait of the deadly consequences of self-delusion, Heartwood could only have been written by James Lee Burke, a writer in expert command of his craft. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Burke is a master at setting mood, laying in atmosphere, all with quirky, raunchy dialogue that's a delight.”

    Elmore Leonard

  • “[A] rewarding novel.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Burke [is] one of the best writers of our time. His plots build tension to such a pitch that it tempts one to rush through his books. But his writing demands that his works be savored.”

    Denver Post

  • “The Faulkner of the American crime novel.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mike | 2/16/2014

    " 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 not given enough to do. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Charlie | 2/9/2014

    " Couldn't finish this. Too damn boring. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debra Burgess | 2/8/2014

    " Found it hard to stay "involved" while reading it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Denise Carson | 2/8/2014

    " Not a very good book "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 1/23/2014

    " Another excellent novel author from James Lee Burke, I have yet to find an author who writes so well in describing the thoughts and emotions of his characters. This story flows along quickly with great depth and energy. Excellent. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lee | 1/22/2014

    " 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Thomas | 1/20/2014

    " James Lee Burke is the greatest. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Dave Freas | 1/8/2014

    " While this book and others in the series are not bad books (How could they be with James Lee Burke writing them?), they did not 'click' with me the way his Dave Robicheaux series does. I think I'll pass on further books featuring Billy Bob Holland. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 10/31/2013

    " Heartwood by James Lee Burke (2000) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda Rowland | 10/28/2013

    " By the end of this book I started to like Billy Bob a bit more. On to the next one and it takes place in Montana which might help. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leon Aldrich | 10/23/2013

    " 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... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 10/22/2013

    " Good quick read and not one of his better known series. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emma | 10/6/2013

    " Words can't describe how amazing this book was to me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vinessa | 10/2/2013

    " My favorite of his books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 8/15/2013

    " Pretty good book. Lots of characters and lots of back stories made it hard to keep up with what I was reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen Fyke | 7/5/2013

    " Billy Bob, a lawyer in Texas. This one has to do with oil wells. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 5/26/2013

    " 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeff Dickison | 5/24/2013

    " It can't get any better than this. A great storyteller with a great story to tell. Burke is now my favorite author. I generally don't like mystical storylines, but Burke makes this one live. I would advise everyone to read as much Burke as you can get your hands on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 3/28/2013

    " It kept you reading, but I didn't like the amount of negative emotion it invoked in me. It was pretty relentless at presenting evil and hostility in people. I doubt that I'll read another of his books, and will think twice about visiting Texas some day. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jake B | 3/3/2013

    " Fantastic book, will definitely read more of his stuff. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen | 12/7/2012

    " Billy Bob Holland tries to solve a murder, complicated by gang affiliates, the rich and powerful (and corrupt), a beautiful past romance, and touching moments fishing with a neighbor boy. Suspenseful and gritty. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diane | 9/6/2012

    " Anything by James Lee Burke is a great read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ronald Howell | 4/3/2012

    " 02/27/2012 - Good read, characters well defined. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelly | 1/23/2012

    " My favorite series (so far) by Burke. I like how he writes the narrator's thoughts, as well as how he handles the first-person POV. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda Stoner | 9/29/2011

    " I think James Lee Burke's greatest skill may be his ability to create a vibrant sense of place. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adam Haan | 9/21/2011

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul Monroe | 7/18/2011

    " Another character to add for Burke along with Robicheaux its fantastic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeff | 5/20/2011

    " It can't get any better than this. A great storyteller with a great story to tell. Burke is now my favorite author. I generally don't like mystical storylines, but Burke makes this one live. I would advise everyone to read as much Burke as you can get your hands on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jake | 4/25/2011

    " Fantastic book, will definitely read more of his stuff. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 4/1/2011

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 12/10/2010

    " It kept you reading, but I didn't like the amount of negative emotion it invoked in me. It was pretty relentless at presenting evil and hostility in people. I doubt that I'll read another of his books, and will think twice about visiting Texas some day. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 8/10/2010

    " Good quick read and not one of his better known series. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debra | 7/28/2010

    " Found it hard to stay "involved" while reading it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul | 7/20/2010

    " Another character to add for Burke along with Robicheaux its fantastic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 4/29/2010

    " I think James Lee Burke's greatest skill may be his ability to create a vibrant sense of place. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Paddy | 3/18/2010

    " Burke can write a decent mystery, but the deluge of descriptors ("his green, almost-clear eyes," "her golden-glowed face") and lack of plot damn this book from page 2. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen | 9/2/2009

    " Billy Bob Holland tries to solve a murder, complicated by gang affiliates, the rich and powerful (and corrupt), a beautiful past romance, and touching moments fishing with a neighbor boy. Suspenseful and gritty. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 8/23/2009

    " Pretty good book. Lots of characters and lots of back stories made it hard to keep up with what I was reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mel | 2/8/2009

    " I love Burke's writings, although I can't specifically remember this one as I review it for goodreads 7 months later. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 1/18/2009

    " Heartwood by James Lee Burke (2000) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mikel | 12/30/2008

    " 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. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Charlie | 8/25/2008

    " Couldn't finish this. Too damn boring. "

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About the Author
Author James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke James Lee Burke, a rare winner of two Edgar Awards and named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, is the author of more than thirty novels and two collections of short stories, including the New York Times bestsellers Creole Belle, Dixie City Jam, The Glass Rainbow, Rain Gods, Pegasus Descending, The Tin Roof Blowdown, Feast Day of Fools, and more. His novel The Lost-Get Back Boogie was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and two of his books, Heaven’s Prisoners and Two for Texas, have been made into motion pictures.

About the Narrator

Will Patton is an award–winning actor who has narrated audiobooks by such authors as Charles Frazier, Larry McMurtry, Don DeLillo, and Ernest Hemingway. He has won thirty-two AudioFile Earphones Award for his narrations. His numerous film credits include Remember the Titans, The Punisher, The Mothman Prophesies, Armageddon, and The Spitfire Grill. He starred in the TNT miniseries Into the West and on the CBS series The Agency and won Obie Awards in the theater for his performances in Fool for Love and What Did He See.