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Download Heartwood Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Heartwood, 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: Alan Sklar Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Billy Bob Holland Series Release Date:
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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, Heartwood could only have been written by James Lee Burke, a writer in expert command of his craft.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Burke is a severe moralist but his tough hide soften like lambskin when he turns to oddballs, outsiders, and natural-born losers. Adopting the vision of these social outcasts…Burke shows us wonders.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Gritty but graceful…Like a seasoned cowhand, Burke skillfully controls this unruly herd of characters…This tale of people who know their history yet are still doomed to repeat it is one you won’t easily put down—or forget.”


  • “Hauntingly illuminates the muted regrets and tender dreams of a flawed but colorful community you’ll be sorry to leave.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “The work of a real writer, a man with a dark, sorrowful vision of a violent, self-destructive society. It confirms James Lee Burke’s position as one of the preeminent crime novelists of late-twentieth-century America.”

    Barnes & Noble, editorial review

  • “The novel compels for its lush portrayal of exquisite countryside; its beautifully composed, mood-setting scenes that pace the action; and the leisurely introductions that give dimension to the many eccentric characters…Rewarding.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Exhibits many of the author’s strengths: lyrical prose, an elegiac tone, and a complex, tormented hero…a strong novel.”


  • “Forget Raymond Chandler. The obsessive return of Burke’s ambitious themes, together with his characters’ inexhaustible capacity for courage, tenderness, and rage, makes him the Faulkner of the American crime novel.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A USA Today Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Debra Burgess | 2/20/2014

    " 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 by Paul Monroe | 2/2/2014

    " 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 by Elizabeth | 1/29/2014

    " The man can write. It almost doesn't matter what he writes about "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Biblophile | 1/23/2014

    " Excellent reading by Will Patton. Firstbook I've listened to by this author. Rich, lush prose and convoluted story line. "

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