Heartwood : Billy Bob Holland

  • by James Lee Burke
  • Narrated by Alan Sklar
  • Series: Billy Bob Holland
  • 12 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Not JLB's best, narrator needs coaching

What would have made Heartwood better?

Definitely a better narrator. It's hard to tell how much the narration is affecting my enjoyment of the book, but it doesn't seem to be one of his best.

The other Holland books had a flair for creating really heinous "baddies" similar to his Robichaux series. This one seems bland in comparison. The other characters also seem to be uninteresting and predictable. Maybe not having Will Patton narrate is taking out some of the color. Come back Will!!

Being from Texas myself, I'm seeing details that don't reflect regional accuracy. There are no pine trees in this part of Texas, no "levee" on the river. Several other things that I can't remember right now.


If you’ve listened to books by James Lee Burke before, how does this one compare?

This story is lacking some of the character development and color that makes Burke one of my favorite writers.


What didn’t you like about Alan Sklar’s performance?

Sklar definitely needs some coaching on his regional characterizations. His southern accents all sound identical and aren't true Texas accents; he's giving us more of a generic Deep South flavor. His Hispanic accents sound more Puerto Rican or East LA than South Texas.

The most aggregious effect is when Sklar drops the final "g" off of EVERY word ending in "ing" in his approximation of southern dialect. Mixing in a few dropped "g's" gives us the idea. A constant use of this device is ridiculous and annoying. He does this even in the narration, which should be toned down somewhat to distinguish it from dialogue. Even in first person narration, voice characterization should be played more neutral than when characters speak.

Sklar had difficulty in pacing the text to portray the movement and mood of the scenes. His only method seemed to be in stretching out and elongating words for emphasis. When all words are treated the same way it creates a monotonous, hypnotic effect that distracts from Burke's writing. I found myself having to rewind requently to pick up details in detecting change in scenery or which characters are speaking. Listening to an audio book shouldn't take that much work.

Sklar has a deep, excellent voice. He needs some range and variability. Take notes from Patton.


What character would you cut from Heartwood?

Not really a question of which character is expendible - let's make them ALL more interesting.


Any additional comments?

We're missing out on the outrageous characters, cajun flavor and great narration in this recording.

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- Ed

nauseating narration

Would you try another book from James Lee Burke and/or Alan Sklar?

i have listened to virtually all of james lee burke's books and find them most enjoyable will patton is great tom stechschulte is great alan sklar is so bad i couldnt listen to the book


What didn’t you like about Alan Sklar’s performance?

his voice intonation is absolutely nauseating


Any additional comments?

i couldnt comment on the book because i couldnt get past the first fifteen minutes the narration is so bad i am going to ask for my money back

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- William

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-26-2012
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio