Friday, May 23, 2014

Review: Cold in July by Joe R. Lansdale

Joe R. Lansdale is one of the best-kept secrets in literature. That's kind of funny to say about a guy with Lansdale's writing credits, which run the gamut from Batman: The Animated Series to Bubba Ho-tep which became a cult film starring Bruce Campbell, but its true in a way. Lansdale is so incredibly prolific, having his hands in so many different genres, but the bulk of this material is not talked about as much as it should be. Enter the 1989 novel Cold in July.

Posting the review today is no coincidence. A film based on this novel gets released today. It is directed by Jim Mickle and stars Michael C. Hall. I'll talk about the film once I see it but for now let's have a look at the novel. What do we have in store for us? Well, if you know Lansdale, you know you're in for one hell of a ride.

The novel centers on Richard Dane, a man who kills a home intruder in self-defense. The intruder's father, of course, doesn't quite see it that way. However, as Richard and the intruder's father are set at odds with one another, it becomes clear that the situation is more complex than they believed and a chain of events is set in motion that puts Richard and the intruder's father, Ben, in way over their heads.

Released in 1989, Cold in July is one of Lansdale's earlier works and I wondered if the novel might feel like it had been written by someone who had not mastered their craft yet. I can safely say that is not the case. Lansdale is one of the best writers of fast-paced, violent, witty fiction alive and it is already evident in this early novel. Lansdale is yet another one of those writers who are consistently reliable. Like one thing from Lansdale, you can get ready to seek out everything the guy's ever done. If he has ever faltered, I haven't seen it. His name on a book means quality.

I don't want to talk more about the plot. I'll leave that for you to enjoy as you discover it for yourself. It will stay with you, you will love this book if you love the kind of fiction we talk about here, and Lansdale will become one of your favorite writers ever.

Get it. See the movie. Let me know what you think about both.

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