Thursday, 26 September 2013



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 humour 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, horses, a career-changing prostitute, bars, lawless towns and mob rule, 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.    


  1. Col - This does sound like a good read. I'm one of those people who like the combination of history, atmosphere and of course, the plot line. I may put this one on my list.

    1. Margot, I hope you enjoy it if you decide to try.

  2. Charismatic bounty-hunting dwarfs, grave-digging sons of ex-slaves - yep I think I can file this one under 'Col's imaginary books that I don't need to read.' Bet there isn't a good outfit among all the quirky characters...

    1. Moira, are you saying bounty hunting dwarfs can't dress'd be correct! Been a while since I had an imaginary book for you!

  3. What you said about Texas 100 years ago is the same reason I don't want to read books set there at all. I don't want to be there. But I know I am being biased and I know that there is at least one book set in Texas that you highly recommended.

    I don't know if I would like this one, but I do want to read some of Lansdale's books. I have at least one from the Hap and Leonard series. Glen read another standalone book: Sunset and Sawdust.

    1. Tracy, I do love Hap and Leonard, which is my favourite of all his work. He does stray into horror and fantasy fields which I'm much less keen on. I think most of his stuff is Texas-oriented which you obviously aren't a massive fan of.
      I don't think I have read Sunset and Sawdust yet, though it's somewhere on the pile....deep sigh.