Cimarron Rose by James Lee Burke

Cimarron Rose - James Lee Burke

"Sometimes you’ve got to set people’s perspective straight."


Cimarron Rose introduces another member of the Holland clan in Billy Bob Holland, a former Texas Ranger and state prosecutor turned defense lawyer. Billy Bob as with all James Lee Burke characters comes with an honesty tainted with darkness that makes these brooding irresistible forces incredibly powerful and intriguing.


My favourite method of storytelling is by far first person point of view, when done right it puts you in the character, you feel and think what they feel and think and Burke is one of the best exponents on the market. His descriptive prose is both palpable and epical, his heroes touched at times with a heaviness that weighs on the conscience like a relentless shadow or a dishonourable moral judgement


I always highlight a vast amount of quotes when reading Burkes work and I'll leave some dotted through my review as always.


'I could almost see the knotted thoughts in his eyes as he looked for the trap he always found in other people’s words.'


Ok to the story, Billy Bob is asked to represent his illegitimate teenage son accused of raping and beating a girlfriend to death, young Lucas remembers nothing and was found in an alcohol fuelled unconscious state in his truck with his pants down.


'The yard seemed filled with shadows that leaped and broke apart and reformed themselves in the wind.'


During his delving our protagonist has to deal with a crazed serial killer with links to his father, a DEA investigation, a crooked Mexican narc and the rich and powerful Vanzandt family whose son is a mixed bag of drugs and trouble. And the ghost of his dead partner, a frequent test on his sanity.


'The resentment in her voice was like a child’s, muted, turned inward, resonant with fear.'


Within the story Billy Bob reads from the journal of his great grandfather Sam, a book within a book in which Sam is quite taken with a Native American woman named Jennie, which is the Christian name of the Rose of Cimarron an outlaw legend.


'Her smile was attenuated, wan, a victorious recognition of the assent she had extracted from me. Then I saw it in her eyes. She had already revised him and placed him in the past, assigning him qualities he never had, as the roles of widow and proprietress melded together in her new life.'


Don't get me wrong I thoroughly enjoyed this, I love James Lee Burkes style of writing, seeing through the very soul of your protagonist is exhilarating but I had a few minor issues with the Cimarron Rose. Firstly I couldn't see what the journal of his great grandfather actually added to the story, seemed a bit of an excuse to name drop a few infamous outlaws from the West and the ghost of his partner engaging in conversations and offering advice didn't really do it for me. Finally I don't think Billy Bob Is a defense lawyer, the court room stuff didn't fit in with his persona he’s certainly more of a rough and ready law man type.


Still even my least favourite of JLB's so far is easily worth 4 stars.