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Sunset and Sawdust (Lansdale, Joe R) [Hardcover]

Joe R. Lansdale
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Mar 2004 Lansdale, Joe R
He has been called “hilarious . . . refreshing . . . a terrifically gifted storyteller with a sharp country-boy wit” (Washington Post Book World), and praised for his “folklorist’s eye for telling detail and [his] front-porch raconteur’s sense of pace” (New York Times Book Review). Now, Joe R. Landsdale gives us a fast-moving, electrifying new novel: a murder mystery set in a steamy backwater of Depression-era East Texas.
It begins with an explosion: Sunset Jones kills her husband with a bullet to the brain. Never mind that he was raping her. Pete Jones was constable of the small sawmill town of Camp Rapture (“Camp Rupture” to the local blacks), where no woman, least of all Pete's, refuses her husband what he wants.

So most everyone is surprised and angry when, thanks to the unexpected understanding of her mother-in-law—three-quarter owner of the mill—Sunset is named the new constable. And they're even more surprised when she dares to take the job seriously: beginning an investigation into the murder of a woman and an unborn baby whose oil-drenched bodies are discovered buried on land belonging to the only black landowner in town. Yet no one is more surprised than Sunset herself when the murders lead her—through a labyrinth of greed, corruption, and unspeakable malice—not only to the shocking conclusion of the case, but to a well of inner strength she never knew she had.

Landsdale brings the thick backwoods and swamps of East Texas vividly to life, and he paints a powerfully evocative picture of a time when Jim Crow and the Klan ruled virtually unopposed, when the oil boom was rolling into and over Texas, when any woman who didn't know her place was considered a threat and a target. In Sunset, he gives us a woman who defies all expectations, wrestling a different place for herself with spirit and spit, cunning and courage. And in Sunset and Sawdust he gives us a wildly energetic novel—galvanizing from first to last.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (Mar 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375414533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375414534
  • Product Dimensions: 23.7 x 16.7 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,553,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Joe Lansdale is the poet laureate of the East Texas backwoods and this new semi-historical romp... might bring him a whole new readership, previously scared away by his colourful excesses. (THE GUARDIAN)

with violence and insanity aplenty, this is entertaining stuff. (THE LIST) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A hard-edged crime thriller set at the start of the Texas oil boom in the 1930s and driven by the sort of outrageous characters that only Joe Lansdale can come up with. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An absolute joy to read 26 Jan 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book starts with main character Sunset shooting her abusive police constable husband dead - in the middle of a storm strong enough to blow their house away. She subsequently replaces him as constable & starts to investigate the discovery of a dead babies body that has been buried in a field, in a jar. From there all hell, literally, breaks loose in pursuit of solving the mystery.

Lansdale is a great writer & even better storyteller & when he is on form he is very hard to beat. Pitch perfect dialogue, brilliant characters (Sunset, Hillbilly, Clyde, Lee, Two - the list goes on) & and an interesting plot make this a very, very enjoyable read. It's gruesome in some of its descriptions but has a dry sense of humour as well.

If you have read the Hap & Leonard books then this is just as good. If not read this & then give his series books a go. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Red Head Shoots 'Em Dead 10 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Joe R Lansdale is an author with a distinctive writing voice. He is a brilliantly evocative writer, but not always that pleasant to read. His lighter output e.g. the Hap and Leonard mysteries, blend his social commentary with crime and capers, his more historic novels are a far darker view on life. `Sunset and Sawdust' falls into this historic category and follows a mother called Sunset living in depression era Texas, after being attacked one too many times by her husband she takes her future (and a revolver) into her own hands. Lansdale paints with words a picture of a bleak time and place to live; women and black people are treated like 5th rate citizens.

As an author Lansdale does not shy away from describing things as he thinks they were, `Sunset' is a gritty book full of death and the racist language used at the time. The presence of death really ramps up the tension as you do not know which characters can possibly survive as Sunset becomes a constable and starts to investigate a murder. The crime aspects of the book works well and unfold slowly, but it is the social commentary that is the best. No one in `Sunset' is as pure as the driven snow and everyone has their own selfish reasons for doing what they must. This means that the book is crammed with twists and turns as an individual's goal contradicts that of another.

It can only be considered a good thing that `Sunset' clocks in at fewer than 400 pages, but it feels like so much happens over those pages. You are dragged into the book like a grotty Dorothy into `Oz'. For me the bombardment of violence and sexual innuendo was a little too much. Perhaps this was reflective of the era, but I cannot believe that everyone was like Lansdale likes to show them - it is his voice coming through.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another superb read from Joe Lansdale 1 Mar 2006
well I've read all of his famous duo's books, which are tremendously funny and a few of his others and this one is no disappointment. He has a great way of introducing gritty characters into the plot and this one plays out really well. He manages to create the essence of the time period in this part of the US and how these small communities and people scrabble to make a living. All in all a great read, which stands on it's own. Try this and if you like it, read one of the Hap and Leonard books, they are great.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dirty doings in the Deep South 23 April 2011
By still searching TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Lansdale is brilliant at what he does, which is to tell interesting and engaging stories that are well plotted, funny, wise, sometimes sad, sometimes slightly elegiac but always superbly written. This one is no exception. For anyone coming to this after reading the Hap and Collins books you will not be disappointed! They may have different names but, basically, the same cast of bizarre characters are present with a feisty, female protagonist, Sunset, who you cannot help rooting for as she takes on the unwanted roles, precipitated by the killing of her white trash husband, of single parent to a daughter on the cusp of womanhood, and town constable. Now this is 1930's Texas so having a woman for a constable is bound to lead to all sorts of `issues' considering the local's `world view'. But, since there's now a job vacancy and it was she, for wholly legitimate reasons, who shot the previous incumbent, Sunset feels obliged to fill the gap.

This will warm your heart and have you chuckling by turns - simply brilliant.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An addition to my library of Lansdale 28 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book adds more Faulkner views to the landscape of Texas and its peoples and the prejudices that weigh heavy on the mind.
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