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Superb Texan tale!,
This review is from: The Thicket (Paperback)
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 travelling 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).
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 Grit and 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).
"This latest work reads like a dark version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and feels like a Coen brothers movie. It's the perfect mix of light and dark, with plenty of humor mixed in." --Houston Chronicle
"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)
"Storytelling laced with bravado, good humour, action, and heart . . . As captivating as the best of Larry McMurtry and written in a style reminiscent of Mark Twain. . . This title cannot help but captivate readers." --Library Journal (starred)
"A gently legendary quality makes this tall tale just about perfect." --Kirkus Reviews
"Satisfying . . . Lansdale's humour and skill at characterization comes across well." --Publishers Weekly
Another book I have read through the Net Galley site. I have enjoyed Lansdale before, most notably his Hap and Leonard series which is about 9 books long, though I'm lagging behind with it and will in all probability start at the beginning again whenever I do get around to it.
The Thicket at 240-odd pages long was a quick blast through rural Texas a century ago. Violence, gun-play, casual racism which was the norm for the period, death both by natural and unnatural causes, an abduction, a pursuit, an ex-Circus performing dwarf, a career-changing prostitute, bars, faith and religion, jails, sheriffs, family and friendship all figure in a superb tale of a boy's passage into manhood whilst seeking to save his sister from a ruthless, lawless gang of rapist, bank robbers.
Whilst I enjoyed reading about Texas of 100 years ago, I wouldn't care to have been around there then or have spent much time in the company of Lansdale's outlaws. The Thicket had a great setting with a fantastic story, populated by marvellous characters - both good and bad. Highly recommended.
Time to dust off the earlier Lansdale books I think.
4 from 5
As mentioned earlier I accessed this book through the Net Galley website.