THINGS GET UGLY
The Best Crime Stories of
Joe R. Lansdale
Crime Fiction / Mystery / Short Stories
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Date of Publication: August 15, 2023
Number of Pages: 352 pages
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Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale (the Hap and Leonard series) returns to the piney, dangerous woods of East Texas. In this career retrospective of his best crime stories, Lansdale shows exactly why critics continue to compare him to Elmore Leonard, Donald Westlake, Flannery O’Connor, and William Faulkner.
- In the 1950s, a young small-town projectionist mixes it up with a violent gang.
- When Mr. Bear is not alerting us to the dangers of forest fires, he lives a life of debauchery and murder.
- A brother and sister travel to Oklahoma to recover the dead body of their uncle.
- A lonely man engages in dubious acts while pining for his rubber duckie.
In this collection of nineteen unforgettable crime tales, Joe R. Lansdale brings his legendary mojo and witty grit to harrowing heists, revenge, homicide, and mayhem. No matter how they begin, things are bound to get ugly—and fast.
PRAISE FOR THINGS GET UGLY:
“A terrifically gifted storyteller.” -– Washington Post Book Review
“One of the best crime writers in the business.” — Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of The Revelators
“While Lansdale’s work is as varied as the regions of Texas, there is one common link through it all: his brilliant storytelling.” –- Grimdark Magazine
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There’s a reason that Joe Lansdale is considered one of the top writers of mystery, suspense, and horror working today. That’s because he’s one heck of a storyteller.
You don’t have to like the horror genre, or the explicit gore that often pops up in his suspense, to appreciate the scope of his talent. In fact, I’m a reader who doesn’t particularly care for horror or graphic violence, but I can recognize, and appreciate, craft that is used so well, and I’ve enjoyed several of Lansdale’s books before this one.
Lansdale doesn’t pull away from tough stuff. Not human depravity. Not graphic violence. Not graphic sex. But he presents that to the reader in stories that pull you in, along with characters not easily forgotten. Then there are the descriptions that rise so far above the ordinary. A good example is this from the story Rainy Day. “The man shook the cigarette out, lit it and puffed. Smoke went up and over the man’s head and sucked out the window, as if it were in a hurry and had some important place to go.”
The first book of Lansdale’s that I read was The Bottoms, and I could see why it won The Edgar. It’s still one of my favorites. I’ll admit that I haven’t read all of his books as I don’t enjoy the ones that focus heavily on horror elements, but I could never fault the writing. His novels and short stories run a gamut of topics and styles and it’s always a pleasure to dig into one to see what’s in the offing. Lansdale can write in almost any genre and pull it off.
Every story in Things Get Ugly has some kind of twist, or two, and Santa in the Cafe had so many I felt like a pretzel after reading it. Never saw the surprise at the ending coming, but I should have, knowing how Lansdale likes to toss in a zinger just when you think the story is over. That was one of my favorites in this collection.
I also really enjoyed Driving to Geronimo’s Grave, a story that has two young kids driving a dilapidated old car to Oklahoma to pick up Uncle Smat’s dead body that is currently residing in a hen house. Set in the Depression Era, the time and place were an integral part of the story, and it was laced with humor that had me chuckling. That mix of sardonic wit and dipping into the dark side of humanity is a specialty of Lansdale’s.
Driving to Geronimo’s Grave wasn’t so much a horror story as a suspense, and maybe that’s why I liked it best of all the stories in this collection. If you’ve yet to give his books a try, I highly recommend starting with this one. Then maybe picking up The Bottoms and work your way down his list of published work.
Joe R. Lansdale (Savage Season, The Donut Legion) is the internationally bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including the popular, long-running Hap and Leonard novels. Many of his cult classics have been adapted for television and film, most famously the films Bubba Ho-Tep and Cold in July and the Hap and Leonard series on Sundance TV and Netflix. Lansdale has written numerous screenplays and teleplays, including for the iconic Batman: The Animated Series. He has won an Edgar Award for The Bottoms and ten Stoker Awards, and he has been designated a World Horror Grandmaster. Lansdale, like many of his characters, lives in East Texas, with his wife, Karen.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
Each receives print copies of
Things Get Ugly & Born for Trouble
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 8/18/23)
If you’d like to meet Joe in person, check out his tour schedule and see if anything fits.
CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY,
or visit the blogs directly:
|08/08/23||Hall Ways Blog||Excerpt|
|08/09/23||The Clueless Gent||Review|
|08/09/23||LSBBT Blog||BONUS Stop|
|08/10/23||The Book’s Delight||Review|
|08/13/23||The Real World According to Sam||Review|
|08/14/23||It’s Not All Gravy||Review|
|08/15/23||Chapter Break Book Blog||Excerpt|
|08/16/23||Rox Burkey Blog||Review|
|08/17/23||Boys’ Mom Reads||Review|
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