Thursday, July 4, 2013

Book Review: Cold in July by Joe R. Lansdale

Cold in July by Joe R. Lansdale

Paperback, 234 pages Published 2001 by Phoenix (first published 1989)

While Lansdale writes across many genres his southern crime novels are some of the best you'll ever read. I decided to read this novel after David Morrell (author of First Blood)commented that it was a novel that only Lansdale could write. Between my decision to read it and finding the book a movie was green lit based on the novel. Directed by Jim Mickle, whose horror film We Are What We Are just played at the Cannes and Sundance Film Festival. I have not seen that yet, but I enjoyed his earlier film Stakeland. The movie picked up steam when Michael C. Hall made it his first post Dexter gig.

The novel is a short but jam packed thriller, that takes many turns that I didn't see coming. I trust Lansdale enough that I went into the novel cold on the plot and I think I benefited from that. This is an early novel and the narrative was not as strong or sarcastic as Lansdale's more recent work. That said I am glad I read this as it was an important step in his development.

Ok if I have already sold you quit reading and go order the book. The plot is interesting, the main character shoots a man in self defense. Every seems to agree that he was justified, except the father of the burglar he shot. He wants revenge and as interesting as that it is, that is really just the tip of the iceberg.

I have not read a Lansdale novel yet that I didn't like. It is not as strong as his newer work, but Lansdale's weakest novel is stronger than most novels you'll read. Great early novel. Hopefully the movie will get this book new attention.

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