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The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

17333250

Jack Parker thought he’d already seen his fair share of tragedy. His grandmother was killed in a farm accident when he was barely five years old. His parents have just succumbed to the smallpox epidemic sweeping turn-of-the-century East Texas–orphaning him and his younger sister, Lula.

Then catastrophe strikes on the way to their uncle’s farm, when a traveling group of bank-robbing bandits murder Jack’s grandfather and kidnap his sister. With no elders left for miles, Jack must grow up fast and enlist a band of heroes the likes of which has never been seen if his sister stands any chance at survival. But the best he can come up with is a charismatic, bounty-hunting dwarf named Shorty, a grave-digging son of an ex-slave named Eustace, and a street-smart woman-for-hire named Jimmie Sue who’s come into some very intimate knowledge about the bandits (and a few members of Jack’s extended family to boot).

Praise:

Love and vengeance at the dark dawn of the East Texas oil boom from Joe Lansdale, “a true American original” (Joe Hill, author of Heart-Shaped Box)

In the throes of being civilized, East Texas is still a wild, feral place. Oil wells spurt liquid money from the ground. But as Jack’s about to find out, blood and redemption rule supreme. In The Thicket, award-winning novelist Joe R. Lansdale lets loose like never before, in a rip-roaring adventure equal parts True Gritand Stand by Me–the perfect introduction to an acclaimed writer whose work has been called “as funny and frightening as anything that could have been dreamed up by the Brothers Grimm–or Mark Twain” (New York Times Book Review)

“The Bard of East Texas is back. . . . He has been writing brilliantly about East Texas for three decades, but never has the region appeared stranger or more violent than it does here. . . . Memorable characters, a vivid sense of place, and an impressive body count make The Thicket another Lansdale treasure.” (Booklist (starred))

“A gently legendary quality makes this tall tale just about perfect.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Satisfying . . . Lansdale’s humor and skill at characterization comes across well.” (Publishers Weekly )

The Thicket presents Joe Lansdale at his finest-which is to say, at the high-water mark of all storytelling.”
(Michael Koryta, author of THE PROPHET)

“THE THICKET is a novel that earns a place on the same bookshelf as Charles Portis’ TRUE GRIT and Cormac McCarthy’s ALL THE PRETTY HORSES. Joe Lansdale is a supremely gifted writer, and his novel is one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I’ve had in years.” (Ron Rash, author of the bestselling SERENA and THE COVE)

“It has been a while since I have read a book which is such fun, not fun but the thing next to fun where there’s a big rolling story — dark and light — told in a voice so alluring and deadpan that it makes you smile and then look around to see who saw you smile. Lansdale takes us on a wicked, charming journey.” (Ron Carlson, author of THE SIGNAL and FIVE SKIES)

“Too often overlooked in American literature is that lineage descending from our early humorists such as Bierce, and from Twain: regional, darkly comic, bizarre. That’s where Joe Lansdale lives. He’s very Texan, very American, very funny -and a stone brilliant writer.” (James Sallis, author of DRIVE)

My Review

A brother, sister, and grandpa try to make a safe journey away from a deadly insidious smallpox.
Scenes of fighting and shooting within this tale, men on horses, set in a time of the horse and cart, bandits, gunfighters and kidnappers.

There be some dust to dust,
bullet and lust,
and devilry along the way,
in delivery of vengeance and salvation.
Bad guys have in the wings, on the road, in pursuit of them, a motley crew in search of some good old justice and material gain.

The Parkers are made of tuff stock and desperate times put one boy through the hardest times of his life, he traverses through a period of coming of age on this road.
There be a first for many a thing for him, in this darn good cinematic True Grit by Charles Portis like tale.

Lonsdale writing with great dialogue, memorable characters, great similes, thee picturesque, and great scenes of action.
He is a darn good storyteller, his writing flows with qualities that keep you hooked in the narrative till the end, a Texas noir master.

Read Interview with Joe R. Lansdale

Check out reviews of his other great reads.

Edge of Dark Water

The Bottoms

Savage Season (Hap Collins and Leonard Pine #1)

The Boar

All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky




Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 10 September 2013