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Cold in July

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  1,189 ratings  ·  144 reviews
Richard Dane shoots and kills a gun-wielding burglar in his living room. It's clearly a case of self-defense, but the dead man’s father, Ben Russel, doesn't see it that way. Russel wants to extract Old Testament-style justice: an eye-for-an-eye, a son-for-a-son. Straightforward menace takes a 90-degree turn, though, when certain unexpected truths come to light, and soon Da ...more
Paperback, 234 pages
Published 2001 by Phoenix (first published 1989)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,610)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Well. This just fucking rules. Shootemups and badguys turned goodguys and goodguys turned badguys and snuff films and twistyplots and crooked feds and tough, mean dudes who look (in my head) like Danny Trejo, and all that stuff that makes crime fiction fun, but with more to it than bam-bam and dames and bam-bamming dames and dames getting bambammed. It's a smart little study of suburban malaise, nature/nurture, parental ineptitude and the dynamics of male relationships, tucked inside what appear ...more
This is a re-release of a book published in 1989 tied to the movie version coming out. It is the tale of an ordinary man whose life is shaken up by a crime that threatens his family who then becomes obsessed with resolving a mystery and proving himself in the sphere of violent action. It taps into feelings of purpose behind protecting home and hearth and forces you ask how far you would go to seek justice.

Richard runs a framing shop in rural East Texas. The first scene has him waking at night i
Note: I first wrote this review in 2010 when I first started reviewing books at Goodreads. It was a brief review simply for the fact I read the novel in the late 90s and the details were not as vivid at the time. Now, thanks to the release of the film in 2014 and the rerelease of Cold in July> by Tachyon Publications, I was encouraged to read it again. The first part of this review are my first thoughts in 2010 followed by my new assessment.

This hard-nosed thriller by Joe R. Lansdale is easy
Bark's Book Nonsense
COLD IN JULY starts out with a bang - literally - when everyman Richard Dane is forced to shoot an intruder intent on robbing and possibly murdering his family. Never having murdered someone, Richard is having a hard time of it. He's replaced the bloodstained couch and painted the wall but he still can't forget that awful night.

Overwhelmed with guilt, he attends the funeral of the small time crook and is spotted by the dead man's dangerous ex-con father. Dear old Dad is none too happy with his s
Steve Vernon
I met Joe at a New York horror convention. He gave me a copy of this and told me it was his personal favorite of all he's ever written. It's a helluva read from a helluva nice guy.
A solid read. The strengths of this book are in the originality of the story and the willingness of Lansdale to constantly make sharp turns never letting the reader predict the direction the story will take.

The characterization is good, if not always fully developed, but the pace of the story and the surprises throughout make for a really enjoyable read.

A fun, quick read that deserves to be rediscovered.
Frank Errington
Review copy

While it's true I haven't read all of Joe R. Lansdale's books, I've read enough to know I love his stuff. Whether he's being serious or off the wall, there's always a level of believably in his stories.

I guess you could call Cold In July a crime novel, but it certainly has elements of horror. Not monster horror. Real horror. The horror we read about in the newspaper or watch on the nightly news. The kind of horror that makes any sane person ask, "How could someone do something like th
Interesting short noir tale by Joe Lansdale written very early in his illustrative career about a family man who shoots a burglar in his home one night in self defense. The dead burglar is then mysteriously misidentified by East Texas cops and the just released, ex-con father of the misidentified dead burglar shows up in town seeking revenge on the guy who shot and killed his long abandoned son. Good concept, characters and dialogue but slow pacing dragged down the action and final showdown, in ...more
Crime just doesn't happen in the small east Texas town of LaBorde. It certainly doesn't happen to respectable people like Richard Dane and his family. Until that July night, Richard's toughest job was dealing with his young toddler son and his penchant for always spilling his milk. Then, that one night, he killed a man and everything changed.

Not that he had a choice. Not when his family, Ann and their four year old son Jordan, were at stake. Not when somebody had broken into their house located
An excellent, short East Texas Noir novel by the great Lansdale. This is one fast, mean, thought provoking book. Lansdale reveals his talent for creating a twisting, turning plot that takes you by surprise many times and where nothing is quite what it seems. What makes his writing really stand out, however, is his humor, his elegant descriptions and his laser sharp eye for detail. An excellent little novel by an excellent writer. Highly recommended.
Ben Loory
pretty amazing (and disturbing) opening chapter about a guy confronting a burglar in his house... after that, the story gets a little rickety (and unbelievable), but the characters are vibrant and there's a LOT of energy and you really never know where it's going. lansdale's writing is full of startling little quirks. just wish the characters didn't talk quite so much.
Edythe Hamilton
Amy wakes her husband, Dane, in the middle of the night because she heard something. Dane goes downstairs to find an intruder standing in the living room. Shots ring out and the intruder is dead. Dane is still in shock the day of the funeral for the intruder, Freddy Russel. He goes to the funeral against police advice. There he finds the father of the slain criminal, Ben Russel (Russel).
Russel threatens Dane and his family because of the killing. Dane goes to the police and they really can’t do
Great characters, a story which hooks you in from page 1. A dark tale of families and violence , which seems inherrent in these days, yet shot through with humour and colour.
Some swell Lansdale here. While this book is about murdered burglars & police conspiracies, it's also about parenting & wondering if you're doing it right while figuring you probably aren't. "And there were thousands of little things he did that made me climb the wall, and it was the same for Ann. She and I went through each day joyful for him and mad as hell at him, trying to figure if we were overly demanding of a four-year-old, or if he was a real-life Dennis the Menace." See, that ri ...more
For those of you unfamiliar with Joe, just pick one up and you'll be an instant fan.
COLD IN JULY is one of those books that fools the reader into a false sence of security before sweeping the rug out from underneath. Initially resembling a run of the mill crime novel, COLD IN JULY treats the reader with three distinct acts/stanzas, all a natural progression from one another. Beginning with a home robbery, then turning private eye, to ending a violent vigilante, COLD IN JULY provides three distinct reader experiences each as good as the other.

Woken by the sound of an intruder, h
This grabs you from the first sentence and doesn’t let go till the last word – and Joe Lansdale write with an honesty, humor, and depth that is unique, fun, and generates suspense like waiting for Santa to come
when you were a kid.

What happens when a burglar breaks into your house in the middle of the night and you grab a pistol you hardly know how to use – you see him and he sees you – fires a shot, and when you fire back, you kill him.

And then his dad, just released from a 20 year armed robbery
When frame store owner Richard Dane shoots an armed intruder, he finds himself going down a strange path when someone close to the dead man comes looking for revenge. The series of events that Dane experiences are terrifying and sometimes bizarre. This tale of an average joe encountering an element that he never knew existed is highly entertaining.

Lansdale does a splendid job of creating suspense and tension right before climatic scenes in this book. Since the story is told through a first perso
Jürgen Zeller
Was wäre meine kleine literarische Welt ohne den Schriftsteller Joe R. Lansdale? Ganz gewiss ein gutes Stück ärmer. Ich hab immer ein ungelesenes Buch von ihm auf Reserve ... für Momente in denen man sonst nichts Anständiges zu lesen hat. Da nun die frisch aufgelegte "Drive-In Trilogie" in den nächsten Tagen bei mir Einzug hält, habe ich mir dieses Buch zur Lektüre gegönnt. Die rasante Erzählung habe ich in zwei Tagen gelesen und ich bin von der düsteren Stimmung bis hin zum kleinen glimmenden F ...more
Die Rezi findet ihr auch auf meinem Blog

Willkommen in der Finsternis... Richard Dane ist ein anständiger Bürger und Familienvater. Doch eines Nachts ändert sich sein Leben von Grund auf. Richard stellt einen Einbrecher und erschießt ihn. Für die Polizei ist der Fall klar: Notwehr. Doch als der Vater des Erschossenen beschließt, Rache für seinen Sohn zu nehmen, wird eine Kette von blutigen Ereignissen in Gang gesetzt. Um seine Familie zu schützen, greift Richard zu extremen Mitteln ...
Here is a rare case where I saw the movie before I read this book. It all came flooding back to me as I read it, as it quite an unusual plot.The movie was made quite a few years after the book was written.

The main character kills a burglar who has has broken into his house while he, his wife and his som were sleeping. While this appears to be a cut and dried case (no charges are brought against him, as it is a clear case of self-defense), the plot becomes quite twisty. I didn't quite buy the en
Read my full review:

This was my first read by Joe R. Lansdale and I loved his voice.

Lansdale wove a story of complex characters into a uniquely twisted, pulse pounding story that flowed quickly. I felt that his voice was a cross between author Jim Thompson and Quentin Tarantino and could make for a rockin' "cult" classic. This was a really dark and sad story that Lansdale masterfully kept lightened up in his character development. and interactions.
William Boyle
I've read some other Lansdale and really liked it. But, if I'm being honest, this one wasn't on my radar until I saw the movie a few weeks ago. I loved the movie. I loved the book even more. A masterclass in pacing and unpredictability. It's a lot of things - a crime novel, a horror novel, funny as hell - but maybe, above all, it's a meditation on fatherhood and fear. Wow. Just wow.
Jenn Myers
This one starts out with our main character killing a burglar in self defence. The burglar's father, a convict who's just been released from jail, comes after the main character with plans to kill the main character's son in revenge. The plot quickly tangles in a Lansdale fashion, and our antagonist and protagonist eventually join forces to figure out what the heck is really going on. The characters are believable, fun, and really give the impression of being fully developed individuals. It's an ...more
Note-perfect thriller, building a sense of going somewhere truly and uniquely terrible, without giving any real indication of where it is until you get there. Lansdale makes it look simple: there really isn't a sense that this has been plotted or constructed, as one things happens and then another with crazy but remorseless logic, yet it all purrs like a well-oiled engine. It's character-driven, inasmuch as the characters are definitely driven to keep going to the end and do what they feel needs ...more
I have yet to be disappointed in a Joe Lansdale novel, and this offering is no different. "Cold in July," like many books of his, is a fast-paced, meat-and-potatoes, very human thriller. I enjoyed all of the characters in this one, and I really was left guessing for most of the novel. It's always great going into a new read with no idea whatsoever what it's about or where it will go.

There's a movie adaptation of this, apparently, so I'll have to check that out soon.

SPOILER: The only reason I am
Max Tomlinson
When Richard Dane shoots and kills a young burglar in the middle of the night he becomes an immediate hero in his East Texas town, even though all he wants to do is put the experience behind him. Racked with guilt he goes to the burial where the only other person in attendance is Ben Russell, the dead boy’s father, just out of prison. As one might expect, Dane’s life takes a turn for the worse.

Without spoiling the story, just know there are twists and turns that make ‘Cold in July’ a worthy read
Alex Budris
Well, simply put, I loved it. After trudging through "Loves Lies Dying" and getting a bit of an OD on Harry Dresden, this book brought me back to what a book should be. It's crisp and suspenseful, without being long overindulgent. The writing is tight and to the point, still the characters develop brilliantly and naturally.

I mean I truly enjoyed reading this, every word of it. Not just tried or wanted to or kind of enjoyed it. This is the real deal. You'll have plenty of suspense, action, drama
Richard Block
Honour Killing

I have always liked Joe R. Lonsdale. I especially loved The Bottoms. But I never read his breakthrough book and I thought I should read it before seeing the film. I am happy to report that it is a wonderful noir which works at the level of the plot, and contains a deeper level about masculinity.

When he kills a burglar, Richard Dane life changes. He starts out a mild mannered picture frame shop owner. When the father of the dead burglar comes to kill Danes' son, Richard's life becom
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5

I've been familiar with Joe R. Lansdale through his short fiction, which has always impressed me, but for whatever strange reasons of fate, I'd never read any of his novels. When this book came across the ARC pile, I quickly requested it. It does NOT disappoint!

The book is being reissued because of the new movie that has hit the film festival circuit and should be available for the public about the time this review is pub
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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.
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