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In the Moon of Red Ponies: A Billy Bob Holland Novel [Mass Market Paperback]

James Lee Burke
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 25 2005 Billy Bob Boy Howdy
"James Lee Burke tells a story in a style all his own, in language that's alive, electric. He's a master at setting mood, laying in atmosphere, all with quirky dialogue that's a delight." -- Elmore Leonard

In James Lee Burke's last novel featuring Billy Bob Holland, Bitterroot, the former Texas Ranger left his home state to help a friend threatened by the most dangerous sociopath Billy Bob had ever faced. After vanquishing a truly iniquitous collection of violent individuals, Billy moved his family to west Montana and hung out a shingle for his law practice. But in In the Moon of Red Ponies, he discovers that jail cells have revolving doors and that the government he had sworn to serve may have become his enemy.

His first client in Missoula is Johnny American Horse, a young activist for land preservation and the rights of Native Americans. Johnny is charged with the murder of two mysterious men -- who seem to have recently tried to kill Johnny themselves, or at least scare him off his political causes. As Billy Bob investigates, he discovers a web of intrigue surrounding the case and its players: Johnny's girlfriend, Amber Finley, as reckless as she is defiant -- and the daughter of one of Montana's U.S. senators; Darrel McComb, a Missoula police detective who is obsessed with Amber; and Seth Masterson, an enigmatic government agent whose presence in town makes Billy Bob wonder why Washington has become so concerned with an obscure murder case on the fringes of the Bitterroot Mountains.

As complications mount and the dead bodies multiply, Billy Bob is drawn closer to the truth behind Johnny American Horse's arrest -- and discovers a greater danger to himself and to his whole family. How Billy Bob strikes back at evil and protects his kin is the masterful triumph of In the Moon of Red Ponies.

Beautifully written, with an intriguing plot and characters whose conflicts seem as real as life itself, this novel shows James Lee Burke again in the top form that has made him a critical favorite and a national bestseller.

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From Publishers Weekly

In this top-notch fourth novel in Burke's series featuring ex–Texas Ranger attorney Billy Bob Holland, Billy Bob has moved his family and practice to the pastoral city of Missoula, Mont., the setting of his last adventure (Bitterroot, 2001), only to discover that the psychopathic ex-biker/rodeo clown, Wyatt Dixon (who buried Billy Bob's private investigator wife, Temple, alive), is out of prison on a technicality and claiming to be a born-again Christian. Billy Bob befriends alcoholic Desert Storm hero Johnny American Horse, a sometime breeder of horses and eco-activist who—when not in the drunk tank—is carrying on a passionate affair with Amber Finley, the daughter of Romulus Finley, a vindictive and bigoted powerful U.S. senator. When Johnny is suspected of murdering the hit man who invaded his home as well as masterminding the burglary of Global Research (a high-tech agricultural lab), making off with its computer files, the action picks up quickly. Noted for quirky characters and intricate plots, Burke introduces demon-driven sheriff's deputy Darrel McComb—an ex–war hero and former mercenary pilot who flew cocaine for the contras—who has an erotic fixation on Amber. Factor in private security agency chief Greta Lundstrum, FBI agent Seth Masterson and Karsten Mabus, CEO of the company that owns Global Research, and the mayhem builds to a gripping, spine-tingling finale.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The similarity between Burke's more recent Billy Bob Holland series and his celebrated Dave Robicheaux novels inevitably interferes with our ability to give the Hollands their due. Yes, former Texas Ranger turned Montana lawyer Holland is, in many ways, a Big Sky version of ragin' Cajun Robicheaux. They have both found a corner of paradise and want desperately to protect it from the encroachments of modern life; they both are prone to violence and often jeopardize their loved ones out of the all-consuming desire to protect them; and they invariably must tangle with one or both of Burke's twin towers of evil: malignant white trash and viciously bent rich people. But despite all that, despite our wish that a writer of Burke's great talent might have used a new series to head toward uncharted waters, it's time to stop picking on Billy Bob Holland. This latest entry in the series, in which Holland attempts to help an idealistic Indian ecoterrorist and winds up antagonizing a power-broking congressman, offers the perfect opportunity to let Billy Bob stand on his own feet. The familiar themes are all here, but Burke puts some new spins on them: the white-trash antagonist reveals surprising depths of character; Billy Bob stops to smell the roses; and even the square-off with the power broker feels less like an Old Testament free-for-all and more like the kind of attenuated skirmish that defines our more circumscribed contemporary world. Yes, Billy Bob is cut from familiar cloth, but admit it, he wears it well. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
MY LAW OFFICE was located on the old courthouse square of Missoula, Montana, not far from the two or three blocks of low-end bars and hotels that front the railyards, where occasionally Johnny American Horse ended up on a Sunday morning, sleeping in a doorway, shivering in the cold. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars When Bad Things Happen to good people July 8 2004
One of the great things about Burke's Robicheaux series is that Robicheaux has lines -- and both the reader and his enemies are often surprised at where they are. When they get crossed, stuff happens. Robicheaux pays a penalty, physically and emotionally. Billy Bob Holland might seem to be a Robicheaux clone, transplanted to Montana; but Mr. Holland is a civilized man -- a former Texas Ranger and prosecuting attorney -- who has no lines. Threaten his friends, his wife, kill his horse, attempt to kill his wife: his reponse: talk, reason, shift the target to someone else's back. Just another wimp who knows who's doing the damage but has answer in kind. In this novel Holland is a prop, a sideline clown to the real actors: Johnny American Horse and his wife Amber, the reformed sociopath Wyatt Dixon; and the sheriff's deputy Darrel McComb. Plenty of bad guys, but, oh yeah, they all get off. As always, Burke writes exceptionally well, but his writing cannot overcome a weak and boring storyline. Readers wanting a better read should look at the Robicheaux series.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Montana-Gate July 1 2004
James Lee Burke is one of my favorite authors. While his left-leaning political views don't coincide with my own, I respect the purity of his beliefs, which usually fit within his storyline, embellished by his extraordinary lyrical prose. Unfortunately "In the Moon of Red Ponies" is not up to Burke standards. Instead, "Poines" struck me as a hastily constructed effort put together only to serve as a platform upon which to hang another tired rant of government-industry conspiracy, and yet another opportunity to bash US involvement in the Mid East.
This is Burke's fourth novel featuring Billy Bob Holland, lawyer and ex-Texas ranger who has taken up residence in Montana. Burke succumbs to all the stereotypes: the downtrodden Native American who nonetheless maintains dignity, honor and wisdom despite persecution from the "G", while evil takes the form of a corrupt US senator and an even more despicable corporate titan. When not raping and pillaging the Montana environment, our conspirators are scheming more diabolical ways in which to profit from the War in Iraq, while the root of Saddam Hussein's treachery is of course unveiled to ultimately be the fault of the US. Billy Bob Holland, while a vibrant and imposing character in "Bitterroot", is flat in "Ponies", wearing his continual state of indignation on his leather-fringed sleeve. While Holland shares many characteristics with Burke's Dave Robicheaux, the macho stoicism just doesn't fit a lawyer as it does the Louisiana Bayou-based cop. The most interesting character is Wyatt Dixon, Holland's vicious adversary from "Bitterroot". Dixon has been released from prison on a technicality, returning to settle the score with Holland - or so it appears.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous ferociously brisk thriller June 28 2004
Former Texas Ranger Billy Bob Holland and his wife Temple relocate to Missoula, Montana where he opens up a law practice. However, Billy Bob is a bit stunned to learn justice did it again as the state freed the most dangerous person he ever met, psychopath Wyatt Dixon (see BITTERROOT) on a technicality. Though concerned that the crazed Wyatt might target him or Temple, he never expected the man to arrive at his law office needing a lawyer to represent his horse-trading business.
Meanwhile, someone steals important documents from the Global Research lab. The police believe former Gulf War soldier, part Lakota Johnny American Horse and his girlfriend Amber, daughter of U.S. Senator Romulus Finney, are the thieves. Billy Bob takes on Johnny as a client while Detective Darrel McComb targets the half-Lakota veteran perhaps because he desires Amber. Cold-blooded multi millionaire CEO Karsten Mabus will hire anyone to do anything to obtain the papers including killing Billy Bob and his family.
The violence is typical of Jamie Lee Burke as events spin out of control sort of like a tornado with innocent people being hurt by the spinning funnel clouds of subplots. Most interesting is Wyatt as he struggles with the help of legal drugs and Jesus to control his maniacal behavior. Billie Bob remains the same person wanting a little peace in his life, but somehow is always the eye of the storm as he learns that Tip O'Neill was right that "all politics is local" inside the Burke norm of a fabulous ferociously brisk thriller.
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IN THE MOON OF RED PONIES is a surprise on a number of levels. It has been a few years since James Lee Burke has published a Billy Bob Holland novel; the ending of the last, BITTERROOT, could have been the finish to the series had he so desired, and indeed, that appeared to be the case. But here is IN THE MOON OF RED PONIES, and it is more a continuation of the Holland series more than a marking of time between Dave Robicheaux novels. This is the definitive Holland novel and, with BLACK CHERRY BLUES, the definitive Burke novel.
Burke is not afraid to change the landscapes of his characters. He does not do so with gay abandon; the changes are thoughtful and make sense within the context of his work, but are no less unsettling for their occurrence. So it is with IN THE MOON OF RED PONIES, when a newly wedded Billy Bob and Temple Holland find their idyllic relocation to Missoula, Montana abruptly shattered. Wyatt Dixon, the psychotic scourge of the Hollands, was last seen in BITTERROOT headed off to prison for the remainder of his foreseeable existence. Dixon, at the commencement of IN THE MOON OF RED PONIES, is abruptly released back to society and upon Missoula. Dixon immediately seeks out the Hollands, but claims to have cleansed his soul and attained salvation thanks to his work as an itinerant preacher and a daily ingestion of prescribed pharmaceutical cocktails. The fact remains, however, that Dixon is an extremely dangerous man, a loose cannon capable of inflicting permanent damage at a moment's notice.
At the same time, Holland is entangled in his defense of Johnny American Horse, an Indian activist who is as often at odds with himself as he is with those who he sees as despoiling the land that he considers his birthright.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised!
My first thought about this book was, "Oh, God, it's set in Montana. Where's he going to go with this? Read more
Published on July 24 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Burke, The Best at his craft!
This is the best of the Billy Bob series! The other reviewers have already summed up the plot so I won't rehash that, but let me say this is the best of the Billy Bob Holland... Read more
Published on July 11 2004 by Shane Gleason
1.0 out of 5 stars James Lee Burke has become a wimp
In his latest book, James Lee Burke has put together a wimpy, dog tired plea for the ecology that goes nowhere. Read more
Published on July 4 2004 by John R. Schill
5.0 out of 5 stars Life itself
William Faulkner once said that the only thing worth writing about was the conflict within the human heart. That thought describes perfectly "In the Moon of Red Ponies. Read more
Published on June 27 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Fourth in the series
This well-written novel by James lee Burke had me from page one until it ended. My introduction to Mr. Burke came with LAST CAR TO ELYSIAN FIELDS--a tour-de-force. Read more
Published on June 18 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of the Billy Bob Holland books
I never thought I'd love a book where the main character is named Billy Bob! The other reviewers have already summed up the plot so I won't rehash that, but let me say this is the... Read more
Published on June 15 2004 by Shelly Aster
4.0 out of 5 stars What Is the Right Thing to Do?
Seldom has a violent mystery story attacked the question of human potential to do good or evil as powerfully as "In the Moon of Red Ponies" does. Read more
Published on June 15 2004 by Donald Mitchell
4.0 out of 5 stars A modern morality tale
With his recent mystery novel, Burke is back! The last book I read by this author was The Last Car to Elysian Fields, a Dave Robicheaux novel, which I found a disappointment, to... Read more
Published on June 12 2004 by Luan Gaines
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