Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Joe Lansdale's New Book Is Out Today!

I had the good fortune to meet Joe back in 1992. He instantly won me over because we're both small-town guys at heart, with a lot of similar interests. I have to admit that Joe's interests are probably more macabre, but there you go.

I don't read much of his horror fiction, although that's what most people rave about, but I read ALL of his crime fiction and his comic books. Leather Maiden is one of those crime stories and I'm really looking forward to sitting down with it.

Here's the synopsis from Amazon.com:

A masterly new thriller from the Edgar Award–winning writer who has “a folklorist’s eye for telling detail and a front-porch raconteur’s sense of pace” (The New York Times Book Review).

After a scandalous affair costs him his job in Houston, Cason Statler—Gulf War veteran and Pulitzer Prize–nominated journalist—returns home to the small east Texas town of Camp Rapture. Cason is a wreck. He drinks too much, he’s stalking his ex-girlfriend, and he’s wallowing in envy of his successful older brother.

To get back on his feet, he takes a job at the local paper, and when he stumbles across his predecessor’s notes on a cold case murder file, he thinks he’s found the thing that’ll keep him out of trouble. No such luck. The further he digs into the case, the more certain he is that the unsolved crime is connected to a series of eerie, inexplicable events that have recently occurred in town. And he knows his suspicions are right on when he finds himself dragged into a deadly game of blackmail and murder that clearly has evil as its only goal.

Leather Maiden is a brash amalgam of suspense, raw humor, and mystery that unfolds in the vividly rendered shadowy lowlands of eastern Texas. It’s country noir as only Joe Lansdale can do it.

For those of you who favor Joe's horror stuff, he's got a new comic out. It's called Pigeons From Hell, and it's based on a Robert E. Howard short story.

My favorite Lansdale crime novels include Cold In July, The Bottoms, A Thin Dark Line, and the Hap Collins and Leonard Pine series. Cold In July is a solid right cross packed with energy, surprise, and violence. I liked the characters a lot.

The Bottoms stands out as a mystery set in Depression-era East Texas. I loved the first-person character and the atmosphere is decidedly creepy.

Like The Bottoms, A Fine Dark Line is a period mystery with a youthful narrator still learning about the world. The time period is the 1950s and the world is a little better, but Joe delivers a lot of insight about childhood and evil in those days.

The Hap and Leonard novels revolve around two East Texas good ole boys who work as unlicensed private investigators -- mostly for friends.

If you read Joe, there's a new book out there and you probably already know this. But if you don't read Joe (and you should if you like hard-hitting crime fiction with grit), Leather Maiden will be a good introduction. Enjoy.

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