Rox Burkey – Blog Place

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.

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Mr. Landsdale brings readers along like a fly fisherman teasing the water, hoping for a nibble. Then he masterfully shifts direction, increases tension, and busts open doors to the unexpected. Each story depicts crimes, many heinous, sharing sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of the victim and the perpetrator. Things Get Ugly is the perfect title for this book as it shows the worst side of humankind in three-dimensional sensations far too realistic to be simply dark imagination.

These are the first works of Joe R. Lansdale I have read; each was executed perfectly. The tales are fast-paced, with realistic exchanges between characters. It was a bit darker than my norm and memorable as it prickled my spine with fear. These are works of a gifted imaginative creator who uses concise language to keep the story moving from page one to the unexpected end.

I suspect nineteen stories in the collection have a specific meaning to Mr. Lansdale and I imagine that asking the why might provoke an additional tale. I enjoyed exploring the unexpected shifts in well-executed stories, was enthralled with the crimes, and was appalled at the characters’ behaviors. Highly recommended to those who love small-town crime fiction combined into a perfectly titled package—buckle up for this ride to the dark side. 

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.



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    7 replies to "THINGS GET UGLY"

    • Maryann Miller

      Nice review. You’re right about the dark side of humanity in these stories, but also the characters who are so real.

      • RoxBurkey

        Maryann, so glad to see you. The realism is startling.

    • Kristine Anne Hall

      I love all the figurative language you used in your review to get your point across: the author knows his craft or he wouldn’t be able to give you all the feels & visuals like he delivered. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I look forward to reading this book.

      • RoxBurkey

        So glad you came by thank you for you kind comments. Stop by often

    • Jan Sikes

      What a fabulous review, Rox! You hit on some excellent points I love seeing in a story. A big congrats to Joe! Thanks for sharing.

      • RoxBurkey

        So glad you stopped by Jan, thank you. It is remarkable.

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