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Sunset and Sawdust

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  1,378 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
In the middle of a cyclone, beautiful, red-haired Sunset Jones shoots her husband Pete dead when he tries to beat and rape her. To Camp Rapture’s general consternation, Sunset’s mother-in-law arranges for her to take over from Pete as town constable. As if that weren’t hard enough to swallow in depression era east Texas, Sunset actually takes the job seriously, and her inv ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 4th 2005 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published December 16th 2003)
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
A tornado comes through east Texas.

At that very moment in time Sunset Jones is fed up with her cheating husband beating and raping her. She takes his .38 and puts it to his temple and blows him away.

She turns to her in-laws as she has no family. Surprise is that her mother-in-law takes her side and makes sure she is appointed constable in place of the now gone husband.

Most of the men in town and even some of the women don't like the fact that there is a woman constable. (The book is set durin
Jul 29, 2010 Marvin rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
The Great Depression, East Texas, Cyclones, wife-beating raping husband, dead wife-beating raping husband by page two, abused woman who shoots wife-beating raping husband becomes constable by page ten, white population is outraged, black population is amused, corrupt politicians, racism, sexism, dead baby in bottle, snake bites, locust plagues, big bad thugs, one big bad thug with multiple personality disorder, lots of fistfights, shootings and general mayhem... with jokes.

In other words, anothe
Apr 29, 2015 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With two attempted rapes, three self-defense killings, and a tornado by page 20, I wasn't really expecting this book to be funny.....but I was wrong. Joe R. Lansdale kept piling on the lamentations in biblical proportions, and I enjoyed every page. J.R.L. wages heavy justice.
Benoit Lelièvre
Jan 11, 2015 Benoit Lelièvre rated it liked it
Three stars' still a positive review, right? I had been debating with myself whether I should give SUNSET & SAWDUST three or four stars, but I decided to be 100% honest about it. I'm a die-hard Joe Lansdale fan, but this novel slightly disappointed me.

The execution still bears Lansdale's seal of quality. The descriptions are short, but evocative, the narration is colored by East Texas' twang and vernacular. The plot is intricate and clever. Joe Lansdale can be a pretty ideological writer at
Oct 13, 2016 Tony rated it liked it
SUNSET AND SAWDUST. (2004). Joe R. Lansdale. ***.
A comfortable story is delivered by Mr. Lansdale. Set in his familiar hometown area of East Texas. We meet Sunset (Carrie Lyon Jones) who has just become the constable of her small town. She made constable because she just shot and killed her husband who was the constable because he was in the process of raping her and severely beating her at the same time. She takes on the job of keeping the town safe, but runs into trouble when black gold (oil)
William Thomas
Oct 10, 2011 William Thomas rated it liked it
Joe R Lansdale is new to me. I didn't know where to begin with his books, so I just fell into this one and rode it out to the end.

My only previous encounter with Lansdale is the movie, Bubba Ho-Tep, which was entertaining but almost completely forgettable. So I was surprised by the dialogue and the use of vernacular with pinpoint accuracy to the specific region and setting.

Having said that, there isn't much more to this book than that. A slew of Southern wit and then the book peters out. It is
Dec 10, 2010 Whitaker rated it liked it
A really great book shows us how everything is great and worth to die for
Feb 24, 2010 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark, thriller, 2007
Joe Lansdale writes some weird stuff. Consider “Bubba Ho-Tep,” a novella about a dying Elvis impersonator living in a nursing home, a black man who believes he’s JFK in hiding from the government, and a mummy who’s stealing the souls of the nursing home residents.


Sunset and Sawdust is a more mainstream novel for Lansdale, set in 1930s Texas, but it’s not without the normal Lansdale weirdness. Sunset, the main character, so named because of her long, fiery-red hair, has just shot her husband
Oct 15, 2012 Judi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2004
“Naked, except for her shoes and the gun she was holding, she wandered off of what remained of her house, stumbled down the muddy clay road in front of her place, frogs, minnows and perch hopping and flapping beneath her shoes.”

Joe Lansdale has a reputation for "mojo storytelling," which he manages to pull off in a wide assortment of genre. Near as I can tell "mojo storytelling" means that the author works magic on us; if so, then his bag of tricks includes lots of laugh-out-loud vernicular, mem
Jack Haringa
Jan 27, 2011 Jack Haringa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lansdale delivers another fast-paced, relevant, and quirky historical thriller filled with the witty dialogue and rich characters you expect from him. Set in Depression-era East Texas, Sunset and Sawdust starts with the protagonist's murder of her husband and doesn't slow down. The titular Sunset, in the course of her investigations, discovers friendship, betrayal, family, town secrets, and truths about racism and sexism. The mysteries compound themselves, and Lansdale saves at least one big rev ...more
Eric Guignard
Jun 24, 2013 Eric Guignard rated it really liked it
REVIEWED: Sunset and Sawdust
WRITTEN BY: Joe R. Lansdale
PUBLISHED: January, 2005

This is classic Lansdale: Well-written, gripping, and at times poignantly funny. Sunset Jones kills her abusive husband in self-defense in the middle of a cyclone. It’s really quite symbolic as not only her home and husband are gone, but her entire life is torn apart. From the very beginning, it’s a story of her reconstructing everything around her, including her own world views. Through the assistance of her wealthy
Another one of my books from the past. Lean, mean, down and dirty Texas grit written with Literary Flair. That's Joe Lansdale to a tee. A quote from Goodreads, quoting other quoters: 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) That's him, Joe R. Lansdale. Why no ...more
May 23, 2013 Donkic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un tipico libro alla Lansdale.

Chi ama già lo stile dell'autore texano non può che trovarsi a suo agio tra queste pagine. Per chi invece non lo conosce, potrebbe non essere un buon libro da cui iniziare (io, personalmente, consiglio sempre di iniziare dalla serie di Hap e Leonard).

Lansdale si muove perfettamente a suo agio in un'ambientazione che conosce e si diverte a giocare con le leggende e le figure tipiche dell'America del primo novecento (il personaggio di Bull Stackerlee, gli hobos).
Sep 03, 2007 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
joe lansdale is known for two things--horror and mystery/crime. this book definitely falls on the mystery/crime side of things, and as someone used to reading his horror short stories, it was interesting to not only read a mystery/crime yarn, but also a full-length novel.

this story, of a female constable in depression-era east texas, is rife with the racial and gender-based tensions of that earlier time, also something that lansdale is known for deconstructing and discussing, and for good reason
Jul 29, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it
It's the depression era in East Texas. The Klu Klux Klan is active and many Texas men feel that if they smack their wives around, they won't be held accountable for it.

Constable Pete Jones comes home drunk and beats his wife, Sunset, and is in the process of raping her when she reaches for his revolver and puts a bullet in his head and kills him.

Since the sawmill town of Camp Rapture is now without a law enforcement officer, at a camp meeting, with the help of Sunset's mother-in-law, who is majo
Aug 01, 2013 Tracey rated it liked it
Read thru the ebook version of this novel, courtesy of the Indiana Digital Media consortium. Ye gods, Landsdale is not kind to his characters ... the book kicks off with Sunset Jones being beaten by her husband during a tornado and doesn't get much gentler from there.

However, Ms. Jones rises above the situation and through sheer stubborness manages to solve a mystery and make life better for a few more people along the way. She does make mistakes - and others suffer for it, as does she. The nov
Aug 07, 2007 Thomas rated it liked it
Shelves: joe-r-lansdale
Joe R. Lansdale rules. Don't believe me? Go to his website,
Click on the horror poster and read whatever
free story is posted today.

There, wasn't that cool?

Lansdale almost never lets me down, and Sunset and Sawdust is one
of his best books. Like much of his work, it is hard to peg in any
single genre. This time around, it's a murder mystery set in depression
era east Texas. Sunset Jones kills her husband (the local sheriff) during
a cyclone, and soon after tak
Jun 02, 2014 Irene rated it did not like it
Set in rural east Texas during the Depression, the book opens with Sunset murdering her abusive husband with the gun she takes from his holster during one of his beatings, at the same time a tornado is slamming into their house. Within the week, this misogynistic community has appointed Sunset the constable to fulfill her husband’s term, has hired a newly arrived drifter to serve as an additional deputy to ensure her success when locals need jobs and the mother-in-law who is grieving for her onl ...more
Sunset Jones is being raped by her husband, again, after he has beaten her black and blue. She pulls his .38 out of the holster and shoots him dead, while a tornado rages outside. Pete Jones was the constable in Camp Rapture, deep in the Piney Woods of east Texas. His mother owns the local sawmill. While Marilyn Jones is horrified by her son's murder, she understands the reasons behind it. This act of defiance pushes Mrs. Jones to throw out her husband, who taught Pete about beating up women and ...more
Heath Lowrance
Feb 22, 2012 Heath Lowrance rated it it was amazing
Depression-era E Texas: during a violent storm, Sunset Jones kills her husband, the constable, as he attempts to rape her. Much to Camp Rapture's dismay, she inherits his job and finds herself in the middle of a double murder investigation that implicates some of the town's highest officials. And Sunset's life, as well as the lives of her daughter and her friends, is in serious danger.

That summary doesn't do it justice. This is Lansdale at his best. SUNSET & SAWDUST is a suspenseful, darkly
Aug 12, 2016 Logan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wanted to like this since the main character is a redhead, but even that couldn't save it for me. I couldn't finish it actually. Had to put it back on the shelf where it will anxiously await its trip back to the used book store. The author made his characters way too cutesy and sweet and buddy-buddy-nudge-nudge-wink-wink ain't we a trio of rambling rascals! Just couldn't deal with that. I can't deal with an author who so desperately wants to make his characters "likable" in any situation, but gi ...more
Jul 19, 2010 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mostly-fun, sometimes brutal mystery novel that doesn't always read like a mystery and comes off like a Western even though it's set in the 1930's. At first, the book seems to lack direction but in the latter phases everything comes together nicely. There's a great cast of heroes facing off an insidious lot of awful villains among a fantastic, violent climax.

Lansdale, known for some outrageous and weird genre fiction, keeps his tendency to go over the edge into cartoony horror mostly in check
William M.
Jun 28, 2011 William M. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror

The name Joe R. Lansdale is truly a stamp of quality on any book. His prose, dialogue, characters, and story are crisp and original, always having a life of their own. Sunset and Sawdust is no exception. You can't help but get involved in the character's lives as they travel down Lansdale's twisted -- and many times humorous -- path. While not as dark as some of his earlier tales, this still packs quite a punch. The characters are sometimes too politically correct for my taste, b
Feb 10, 2010 Andy rated it it was amazing
“Sunset and Sawdust” is a Jazz Age western, where you have desperados driving around in cars instead of horses, but there are still gunfights, saloons, Klansmen and lynchings.
There’s a female sheriff with a boyfriend named “Hillbilly” who knocks up her teenage daughter, a villain who has a black Mini-Me named “Two”, and dead bodies coated in Black Gold/Texas Tea (forget Goldfinger, this is more like Crudefinger). One of Lansdale's crazier efforts.
Feb 17, 2015 Kevin rated it liked it
My love affair with ball-grabbing, hard-hitting, character-led yarns from the Southern U.S., continues apace with no sign of stopping; I've read some belters in 2015, and this is no different. Classic Lansdale - great writing, great storytelling, hugely entertaining. Only gets 4 stars because "The Thicket" (5 stars) was even better.
Apr 28, 2013 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-noir
Joe Lansdale sure makes me happy, so for pure enjoyment this is a five, though I sure wish we had half stars. But it had women turning the tables on the bastards beating the shit out of them, a whole host of brilliant characters East Texas style, and a whole lot of edge. I loved it.
Shawn Thornton
Oct 13, 2013 Shawn Thornton rated it really liked it
Another great novel from joe Lonsdale. Plenty of back stabbing and betrayel in this very engaging mystery. Great.
Nancy Haddock
Joe Lansdale is fabulous. Just fabulous!
Oct 14, 2016 lonelypepper rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Non avevo mai letto nulla di Lansdale. Qualche giorno fa mi sono imbattuta in una discussione in cui si parlava di copertine brutte e qualcuno ha menzionato la copertina dell'edizione italiana di Tramonto e Polvere Quella virata in rosso sangue, di ispirazione Harmony. Diceva che non c'entrava nulla col romanzo. Così mi sono incuriosita, l'ho comprato e l'ho letto.

Leggendo Tramonto e polvere mi sono sentita a disagio per la gran parte del tempo.

Ho subito odiato la protagonista Sunset. La sua in
Tramonto e cavallette al cardiopalmo


Il mio primo incontro con Lansdale è stato un cocktail ben miscelato e dal sapore inaspettato. Un nuovo sceriffo donna pel di carota, un menestrello playboy, un ex prete che picchia forte, un delinquente col parrucchino e una discutibile passione per i grembiuli da donnina, prostitute, pistolettate, un nero dalla doppia personalità che ama succhiare l'anima alle sue vittime in stile dissennatore, ma con giacca e bombetta e una fiumana di locuste fuori di testa
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Sunset and Sawdust 5 19 May 21, 2014 07:52AM  
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Joe R. Lansdale is the winner of the British Fantasy Award, the American Horror Award, the Edgar Award, and six Bram Stoker Awards. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas.
More about Joe R. Lansdale...

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