Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Lonesome Animals” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Lonesome Animals
Bruce Holbert
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Lonesome Animals

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  199 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
In "Lonesome Animals," Arthur Strawl, a tormented former lawman, is called out of retirement to hunt a serial killer with a sense of the macabre who has been leaving elaborately carved bodies of Native Americans across three counties. As the pursuit ensues, Strawl's own dark and violent history weaves itself into the hunt, shedding light on the remains of his broken family ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published April 12th 2012 by Counterpoint LLC (first published April 1st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Lonesome Animals, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Lonesome Animals

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 29, 2014 Kenneth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb is compelling but, in the end, it does the book no favors. Whereas nothing in it is untruthful, exactly, it just assures the book of falling way short of the expectations it raises. There's nothing remarkable at all about this work. That the book would somehow have something important to say, I reject.
It mostly comes across as a desperate attempt at copying McCarthy but it doesn't even do that well (a lot of other reviewers clearly disagree, mind). It just screams of trying too hard: I
Jan 21, 2013 Sonic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was amazing!

Yet again we have what seems like a "son of Cormac McCarthy" and yet rather than being a limiting comparison, I meant it as the highest possible compliment.

And where McCarthy can write exquisitely without even an engaging plot, this writer, Holbert has given us all we could hope for and more in terms of both story and language.

File under: Best Western
heh heh heh

LONESOME ANIMALS. (2012). Bruce Holbert. ***.
This novel was selected as the Best Book of the Year by both The Seattle Times and Slate Magazine. It all depends on what you are looking for – I guess. It is set in eastern Washington State in a region that was pretty bleak and forbidding. The protagonist was Russell Strawl, a former lawman who was called out of retirement to hunt down and capture a vicious killer of Indians who managed to leave his horribly mutilated victims spread across several co
Natalie Holbert
Apr 02, 2012 Natalie Holbert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Normally this kind of book is not part of a genre I would normally read but it had been highly recommended to me by my parents. This said, this was one of the best books I have read in a very long time. I couldn't stop reading. A wonderful book with not only a great story but great insights philosophically as well. I would and will suggest this book to anyone looking for a good read. Definitely a must-read!!!!!
Dec 31, 2012 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Holbert writes breathtaking prose. Some sentences are meant to be read and re-read for the sheer beauty of the words. However, the brutality of the story and the violence at its heart lessened my enjoyment of the prose.
Nov 29, 2012 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll be short and sweet: If Cormac McCarthy were a genre writer and didn't keep a 19th century thesaurus at his side, he might pen something similar to this.
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
This is a book that I accepted for review without fully understanding what it was about, and I'm glad I did; I think if I had read the blurb I might have passed. Set in Washington in the 1930s, the story follows Russell Strawl, a frontier lawman with a violent past, who is called out of retirement to investigate the savage murders of Native Americans in the area.

In the vein of No Country for Old Men, True Grit, and The Sisters Brothers, this is a violent, gritty, unapologetic and unromantic loo
Nov 22, 2013 Sheri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In some ways this reminded me of Cormac McCarthy's "No Country For Old Men." There's a rural sheriff, there are gruesome murders, there's a search for the perpetrator. But Holbert takes this way further than McCarthy, making "No Country For Old Men" seem like a walk in the park. For one thing, there is no big pile of drug money to provide a motive for the murders. For another, the sheriff seems as murderous as the murderer being sought -- so much so, that he's a suspect himself in these creepy k ...more
Shelley Fearn
Oct 10, 2012 Shelley Fearn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: manly-fiction
Russell Strawl, a retired lawman, has been single handedly chasing outlaws throughout the Okanogan valley since the 1880's. In 1930, someone is brutally murdering and then butchering Native Americans on the nearby reservation. Brought out of retirement, Strawl sets out on a single minded trek to search the killer out. It is a stark but beautifully written novel. It shows the journey of a man who, like to old West, is unable to survive the transition into the modern age.

I found Strawl a sympathet
May 12, 2012 Cherise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-favorites
I like to read violent, gritty books--books that push me out of my comfort zone and leave me shaken. With that said, there were passages in Lonesome Animals that blew right past unsettling and flat-out frightened me. The prose, while I found it occasionally difficult to follow, is incredible. As other reviewers have mentioned, it reminded me a great deal of The Sisters Brothers and No Country for Old Men. People who liked the raw characters and strong sense of place in Donald Ray Pollack's work ...more
Adam Lund
The only book I've read that's set in the remote areas of North Central Washington state, known as the Okanogan. This has an old west feel to it, but biblical allusions abound, as does perpetual violence. It reminded me of Blood Meridian. Well written and philosophical, this book has plenty of passages to ponder.
Cindy Swift
Aug 02, 2012 Cindy Swift rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved the writing, especially the dialog. The plot is compelling - lawman comes out of retirement to hunt a serial killer in the Pacific NW in the 1930's - and the violence is brutal. The characters are hard to like, and still get into your head. Native American culture, Western ranchers, and more. Couldn't put it down.
Oct 04, 2012 Randine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is kind of a heavy book. Feels almost a little too real but it takes place in the 1930's so there is something about that time that is transient anyway. Everything was changing. If I summed it up I would call it, "Silence of the Lambs Western Style". Very good writing.
Mike Eckhardt
This is a deeply dark, and I mean dark, western tale, there are no heroes just varying degrees damaged. I probably would have rated it higher but I couldn't really get into the cadence of the writing.
James Wharton
Jun 27, 2012 James Wharton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Writing is incredile--vivid description, brutal at times but always intriguing. I couldn't put it down and read it in one day.
John Woodington
Every once in a while I get a yearning to read a graphically violent western novel that explores the indescribable nature of men who build their lives in the solitude of the vast American frontier. In general, this leads me to a Cormac McCarthy novel. Imagine my surprise when I came upon Lonesome Animals by Bruce Holbert, and felt my McCarthy-esque yearning somewhat quenched.

Lonesome Animals tells the story of Russell Strawl, an aging law(less) man who is called out of retirement to investigate
Jürgen Zeller
Mangels Zeit diesmal nur eine kurze, dafür aber eine sehr subjektive Meinungsäusserung zu einem gelesenen Buch. Joe R. Lansdales Das Dickicht hat mir Lust auf weitere Western-Geschichten gemacht und dieser Roman schien mir die geeignete nachfolge Lektüre zu sein. Rein vom Grundgerüst und auch inhaltlich ähneln sich die beiden Werke sehr stark. In Sachen Schreibstil unterscheiden sich beide Bücher aber frappant. Aus literarischer Sicht schreibt Bruce Holbert eindeutig lyrischer, eleganter und wah ...more
Feb 21, 2017 Jason rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author's prose is too descriptive and plodding. The novel features long stretches of boredom followed by short bursts of mayhem.
Nov 30, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book, as enjoyable as I found it, is not one you want to take up lightly as it delves into the darker recesses of man, is fairly brutal, and in some ways leaves the reader with less than they may have wanted, although the writing is excellent, the story a delight to follow, the characters terse and shadowy, and the insight into this region of the country seldom explored. Set during the Great Depression in eastern Washington State near the being-built Grand Coulee Dam, it follows the hunt in ...more
When I acquired this book last winter, I did't expect it to be a highly literary reflection--in the bleak tradition of the naturalists--on why men choose to preserve or destroy themselves and others. I didn't expect it to be rich with reflection on the stories we use to make meaning of our lives, or full of Biblical allusions--used (and twisted) with wit--that ask readers to reflect on the moral ambiguities by which we seek to master our own lives.

But it's a Western serial killer novel that I pi
Jul 10, 2012 Tia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I could, I would give this book 3 1/2 stars. I really did enjoy this book. I was kept interested throughout...but in my older, more motherly years, I was a little shocked at the violence and graphic nature. But not sure if it would have been the same without it. Occasionally the language was a little much for me too (virgin ears/eyes). It was also a very poetic book. The writing was beautiful. Which was also a little hard for me to follow sometimes because I speak to children 8 and under all ...more
Aug 27, 2015 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: keith, audiobook, wtbbl
While the characters and the story are deeply disturbing on many levels, I could not shake how wonderful the writing was. For fans of tough characters living in the unforgiving landscape of Washington's Okanogan, this should be your next book. For the squeamish and easily offended, turn away. The book jacket states the author is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, and there is no doubt this is true. Every sentence, every word is chosen with deliberate care. Taken in small doses, the poetry ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Harry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
»Einsame Tiere« beginnt äußerst vielversprechend. Die Atmosphäre ist dicht und Charaktere sowie Plot wirken stimmig. Dann driftet der Roman aber rasch ab und liest sich zunehmend nur noch wie das pseudo-philosophische Gebrabbel eines imaginären wahnhaften Großvaters, der sich selbst ärgerlicherweise für wesentlich raffinierter hält, als er tatsächlich ist. Nicht zuletzt, indem er sich mittels eigener Hybris die Welt erklärt.

Wenn einen ins Deutsche übersetzten Neo-Western, dann lieber beispielsw
Brian Shields
This book seems equally indebted to early Cormac McCarthy and Washington State field guides. The main character, Strawl, is not only a two-fisted, sure-shooting, laconic man-killer, but he's also apparently a botanist and a geologist. Violent and dark but never to any true purpose, and the book runs out of steam as the bodies pile up. Couple that with quasi aboriginal folk wisdom and some ersatz tough guy philosophy and the book starts to feel like a bit of a put-on.
May 12, 2016 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
never thought i'd find an author to rival Cormac McCarthy's writing skills (not his style, no one will duplicate that, and Holbert's style is just as good AND totally his own)... this story is awesome... brutal, uncompromising, sad, ethereal, and brutal... yep, noted that twice... Holbert has a great strength in his language and a profound ability to craft a tale... can't wait to get to the library for his next book...
I hated this book. I wanted to stop reading it about page 30. I wish I had. This is a book about a violent, ruthless retired sheriff chasing a violent, ruthless killer. Wile the writer is not unskilled I found it simply depressing instead of interesting. Think Lonesome Dove characters with skewed and indeterminate moral compasses.

I gave it 3 stars because the author writes beautifully. Sadly, it's just a nasty story from beginning to end.

Jan 16, 2016 Breeze rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cowboy-noir, fiction
I can't get this book out of my head, but it's not for everybody. Cowboy conversations are a bit spare and difficult to follow but you definitely get into a cowboy noir frame of mind. If you like "Justified" on TV, you will love this book. P.S. Yeh.... it's been about 4 months since I finished it and it's still in my head so I'm adding a "favorite" to it. (but it's not for everyone). A FAVORITE
Dale Barlow
a very gory western tale that I really liked initially but the gore got to me (literally); former sheriff finds locals maimed to death in various very creative ways only to discover…it’s too close to home—and then what to do? Well, the story unfolds. I also have a 2nd novel from this autghor and will be curious to see if he is as gory the 2nd go around—if so, I’m done. 2012 hardback via Madison County Public Library, Berea, 268 pgs.; 3 out of 5 stars; read 02 Oct, 2015/#29
Al Maki
May 24, 2013 Al Maki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elaine Cantrell
The writing is first rate, but the book is too dark for me. From start to finish the author bombards the reader with acts of carnage. Such people exist, but I prefer something a bit more positive. Why read about depravity?
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Bay of Foxes
  • Motor City Shakedown (Detroit Mysteries)
  • Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards (Whip Smart, #1)
  • Our Man in the Dark
  • The Prisoner of the Riviera (Francis Bacon, #2)
  • Beautiful Lies
  • Fear in the Sunlight (Josephine Tey, #4)
  • Daughter of the Sky
  • A Prince to be Feared: The Love Story of Vlad Dracula
  • The Siren of Paris
  • In the Garden of Stone
  • Where They Bury You
  • The Raven's Heart: A Story of a Quest, a Castle and Mary Queen of Scots
  • Inheritance (Southern Son: The Saga of Doc Holliday, #1)
  • The Kept Girl
  • The Wild Hog Murders (Sheriff Dan Rhodes #18)
  • Napoleon in America
  • Spirit of Lost Angels
Bruce Holbert grew up in the country described in Lonesome Animals, a combination of rocky scabland farms and desert brush at the foot of the Okanogan Mountains. What once was the Columbia River, harnessed now by a series of reservoirs and dams, dominates the topography. Holbert’s great-grandfather, Arthur Strahl, was an Indian scout and among the first settlers of the Grand Coulee. The man was a ...more
More about Bruce Holbert...

Share This Book