Now it can be told: the true story of The Big Guy, a man raised by ape-like beings in a lost world and brought to civilization, as told by his ape-bro...moreNow it can be told: the true story of The Big Guy, a man raised by ape-like beings in a lost world and brought to civilization, as told by his ape-brother, Bill! What really happened when The Woman and her scientist father brought The Big Guy and his brother from their jungle home?
Joe Lansdale has been one of my top five writers for over a decade now. As much as I pimp his Hap & Leonard series to crime fans, what really grabbed my attention was his weirder fare like this.
In The Ape Man's Brother, Uncle Joe takes a page from Philip Jose Farmer's playbook and imagines what Tarzan, sorry, The Big Guy, might have been like if he actually existed. Only instead of Farmer's take, this tale is full of the usual mojo: sex, cursing, violence, and humor. Farmer sure didn't drag Tarzan and Cheetah to Hollywood and have them star in a movie based on their exploits. And Cheetah sure didn't... well, I don't want to spoil too much.
Even though Tarzan fans might not appreciate The Big Guy's antics, it's clear Joe Lansdale loves the subject matter he's tackling. There's pulpy action and, if you ask me, the Big Guy acts like a jungle-raised savage would if he was brought to Hollywood and had fame and fortune thrust upon him.
At 104 pages, it's a slim book but it's the perfect size for what it is: a hilarious tale only the mojo storyteller himself could dream up. With dinosaurs, lots of humor, violence, and the Big Guy sodomizing a dead lion, it's worth ever penny. Four out of five stars!
Deadman's Road is a collection of the tales starring Reverend Jebidiah Mercer, a gun-totting preacher in the Old Weird West. I think I've read most of...moreDeadman's Road is a collection of the tales starring Reverend Jebidiah Mercer, a gun-totting preacher in the Old Weird West. I think I've read most of the stories before in Dead in the West and The Shadows, Kith and Kin but since I don't remember much, it was like a brand new read.
Dead in the West: The Reverend rides into a town that's in the grips of a curse that makes the dead walk and crave the flesh of the living.
This is the story Lansdale used to introduce his Weird Western character, Jebidiah Mercer. Mercer is a conflicted preacher and is like a western version of Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane. He's also quite a bit like Edward Eredlac's Merkabah Rider and Manly Wade Wellman's Silver John and I'm getting a nerd chubby thinking about the team up possibilities.
The story is a zombie splatterfest and if I was going to rate the entire book based on the first story, it would be an easy four. The pace is rip-roaring and the writing is pure Lansdale.
Deadman's Road: On the road to Nacogdoches, Mercer falls in with a deputy and his prisoner and runs afoul of an undead murderer with a beehive in his chest...
This is short story, more like a bump in the road for the Reverend. It relies on mood more than action and gore, through the gore is well written when it splatters on the page. I did notice that the Reverend is wielding two converted .44's instead of his old converted .36 from Dead in the West.
The Gentleman's Hotel: In a hotel full of ghosts, The Reverend and a young working woman named Mary prepare for a pack of werewolves to set upon them once it gets dark...
Mercer takes on Lansdale's version of werewolves. There were some nice touches, like oak hurting them, and the one ghost that was able to talk to the Reverend and Mary. It's becoming readily apparent that it's dangerous to be a friend of Reverend Mercer.
Crawling Sky: Mercer wanders into a town and finds a half-wit in a cage being pelted by rocks. Mercer frees the man and the two of them go to investigate the haint that killed the man's wife.
This was the creepiest story of the book. An ancient evil someone summoned and trapped escapes and starts eating people. I love the connections to HPL in the Mercer stories. Also, in addition to it being life threatening to be Mercer's friend, being his horse wouldn't be a safe occupation either.
The Dark Down There: A mining camp is terrorized by Kobolds and the Reverend aims to put a stop to them.
The final story in the book is a creepy bloodbath, kind of like a Dungeons and Dragons dungeon crawl with guns. Since it actually ends on a positive note, it was a good way to end the collection.
Closing remarks: Deadman's Road is a fun pulpy collection and Lansdale fans and weird western fans won't want to miss it. Four easy stars. (less)
When his grandfather is murdered and his sister kidnapped by outlaws, young Jack Parker goes looking for vengeance. With a four gauge wielding man nam...moreWhen his grandfather is murdered and his sister kidnapped by outlaws, young Jack Parker goes looking for vengeance. With a four gauge wielding man named Eustace, a midget sharpshooter named Shorty, and a hog named Hog, he goes hunting for Cutthroat Bill and his gang. Will he survive long enough to find his sister?
I got this ARC from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley! Although it only took two damn months for my request to get approved...
Here we are, the 36th Joe Lansdale book I've read. The Thicket is part True Grit, part coming of age tale, and all Joe Lansdale.
The plot of The Thicket is simple enough. It's a tale of a young man's coming of age and quest for vengeance. In the wake of his parents' death from the pox, Jack and his sister Lula are traveling with their grandfather until they run afoul of some outlaws. Jack survives and meets up with Shorty and Eustace and the tale kicks into high gear.
The usual Lansdale mojo is in full effect. The dialogue is a kind of redneck poetry of profanity and clever similes. Lansdale's ear for dialogue always surprises me. I could easily hear the same dialogue coming out of people down at the local Wal-Mart. And the violence, oh, the violence. There's a steady stream of violence, dolled out like appetizers, until the main course, the bloody shootout at the end.
The characters Jack meets on his adventure are a colorful bunch, from Eustace, the man of mixed blood that wields a damn cannon, to Shorty, the educated little man who is a crack shot, the scarred sheriff Winton, to Jimmie, the whore with a heart of something resembling gold that teaches Jack a few tricks, both in and out of the bedroom.
Since it's a Lansdale book, no one gets out unscathed. The gunfights didn't feel like Hollywood gunfights at all, more chaos than anything else. The entire cast was changed, either by the carnage or by becoming dead.
Lansdale is one of the authors I feel like I would get along with based on his writing. Where George Pelecanos and I would probably spent time discussing music, I could see myself bullshitting with Uncle Joe on my back porch with a couple beers and some BBQ on the grill.
That's about all I have to say. It's one of the better Lansdale books in recent memory so just read the damn thing!
What's better than a picture book about an invasion from Mars by ducks wearing silly silver suits and hip waders? A picture book about an invasion fro...moreWhat's better than a picture book about an invasion from Mars by ducks wearing silly silver suits and hip waders? A picture book about an invasion from Mars by ducks wearing silly silver suits and hip waders written by champion mojo storyteller Joe Lansdale, that's what!
Apparently Lansdale's son Keith has quite an imagination himself. When he was five, Keith told Joe about invading Martian Ducks in his room. Joe was impressed by the kid's tale and wrote it down with wife Karen providing the finishing touches.
It's a cute story involving Martian ducks coming out of the ground and attempting to use a box of powdered ducks to conquer the Earth. I won't blow the ending but it's pretty good.
It's a cute story for what it is. If you're wondering about the next generation of Lansdales, I'd say they're a chip off the old block.(less)
When their friend Marvin Hanson offers them a job, Hap, Leonard, and an axe handle Hap named Agnes find themselves putting the fear of God into a woma...moreWhen their friend Marvin Hanson offers them a job, Hap, Leonard, and an axe handle Hap named Agnes find themselves putting the fear of God into a woman's abusive ex-husband. The ex winds up dead with Hap in the wrong place at the wrong time when the cops show up. Can Hap and Leonard clear their names and figure out who killed the ex-husband?
Here we are, another installment in Joe Lansdale's Hap and Leonard series. For those of you who don't know, Hap and Leonard are like Spenser and Hawk, if they lived in Texas, didn't have any money, and Hawk was openly gay. In this particular installment, Hap and Leonard find themselves caught up in a scam involving gambling debts, insurance money, the Dixie Mafia, and people lying their asses off.
Hap and Leonard are in fine form. As usual with a Hap and Leonard book, I found myself laughing and wanting to read lines out loud. It's a little light on action until the end but it's a very quick read and the web of lies actually seemed pretty believable.
But it's not all bacon and avocado sandwiches. First off all, the story is only about 100 pages long. After Devil Red, Hyenas, and this one, I'd really like another Hap and Leonard that's over 275 pages at some point. My other gripe is the cover art. In and of itself, it's good art by Glen Orbik. However, the characters are about 20 years too young and look like the stars of a CW network show, not the grizzled tough guys depicted in the novel. Hap's talking about being old enough to be a grandfather in the book but the guy meant to be Hap on the cover looks about 25.
I'm giving this four stars since it was hilarious but I'm putting a frowny face next to the four since it's so short.(less)
A teenage girl with Hollywood aspirations's body is pulled out of the Sabine River. Her friends Sue Ellen, Jinx, Terry set out to spread her ashes in...moreA teenage girl with Hollywood aspirations's body is pulled out of the Sabine River. Her friends Sue Ellen, Jinx, Terry set out to spread her ashes in Hollywood. Unfortunately, some money the deceased girl's brother stole winds up in their possession and numerous ill-tempered people are on their trail. And a murderer named Skunk has been hired to get the money back at any cost. Will Sue Ellen and her friends survive their river odyssey?
Joe Lansdale weaves a coming of age tale set in east Texas. It's a little like Huckleberry Finn, if Huckleberry Finn involved stolen money, a killer that severs hands, and an opium-addicted mother. It's a pretty gripping tale. Sue Ellen comes to grips with her parents, Terry deals with his sexuality, and Jinx deals with being black. Skunk is a pretty chilling villain and the rest of the people chasing the protagonists are cut from the usual Lansdale cloth of redneck scumbags. I didn't see the identity of May Lynn's killer coming. Overall, I was pretty pleased with it.
However, I only gave it a three because I felt like Lansdale has told the story at least twice before, both in The Bottoms and A Fine Dark Line. It was good but it felt like he was mining familiar territory. (less)
Hap drives over to the Big Frog Club to find the police questioning Leonard after Leonard put the hurt on three guys. One of the guys appreciates Leon...moreHap drives over to the Big Frog Club to find the police questioning Leonard after Leonard put the hurt on three guys. One of the guys appreciates Leonard's toughness and hires him and Hap to get his younger brother away from a group of suspected bank robbers he's fallen in with. Can Hap and Leonard save Donny from the influence of Smoke Stack and the other thugs?
Hyenas was a worthy addition to the Hap and Leonard canon. It has all the hallmarks of a good Hap and Leonard tale: humor, cursing, and furious violence. My favorite line was "Brett thought it would be cute if we got matching guns with our initials on them," the we being Hap and Leonard. Funny stuff. The action was hard and fast when it arrived and the humor was top notch. You don't read too may stories these days that feature an Ultra-Light aircraft AND an reference to The Last Airbender.
So why only a 3? This thing cost $25 bucks and was barely a hundred pages long! If my math is correct, between this and Devil Red, Joe Lansdale has fifty of my dollars for under four hundred pages of story in two weeks time. It seems like Hyenas and Devil Red could have easily been bundled together. I'm not saying I feel ripped off but the lightness in my wallet is throwing off my manly stride a bit.
To sum things up, Hyenas is a good story and a worthy Hap and Leonard tale but get it on the cheap if you can.(less)
While working with their detective friend Marvin Hanson, Hap and Leonard are tasked with solving a cold-case, a double homicide involving a rich woman...moreWhile working with their detective friend Marvin Hanson, Hap and Leonard are tasked with solving a cold-case, a double homicide involving a rich woman's son and his vampire-ish girlfriend. The trail leads them up against a deadly hit man they dub Devil Red. Can Hap and Leonard, in all his deerstalker-wearing finery, find Devil Red before they become his next victims?
Hap and Leonard are so bad ass their bad ass has to wear a suit and tie. Sorry, inside joke. In Devil Red, Lansdale dusts off Hap and Leonard and turns them loose going 100 MPH. I devoured this book in one sitting. As usual, there is a ton of dark humor, sex, and a dump truck full of violence. As usual, the tension mounts until the big shoot out at the end. I had an inkling of who was behind Devil Red but it seemed so absurd that I discounted it.
As always, Hap and Leonard were in fine form. Marvin Hanson continues to be one of the more memorable members of the supporting cast. Cason seemed like Lansdale was grooming him to be a recurring supporting character. (view spoiler)[ It was nice to see Vanilla Ride again, even if she's becoming something of a deus ex machina for Hap and Leonard. (hide spoiler)] The running gag with Leonard wearing the deerstalker cap was my favorite part of the story.
So why only a four? It was too damn short, just over 200 pages. I felt like I was just getting into it and then it was over. (view spoiler)[Also, Leonard almost dying has been done in half of the Hap and Leonard books. (hide spoiler)] All things considered, it was a worthwhile addition to the Hap and Leonard canon. If you liked the others, you'll like this one.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Unchained and Unhinged is a collection of Joe R. Lansdale writings. Half of the book contains columns or essays he wrote and introductions for a coupl...moreUnchained and Unhinged is a collection of Joe R. Lansdale writings. Half of the book contains columns or essays he wrote and introductions for a couple books. The rest of the book is full of really short short stories.
The essays are pretty good. Two about Robert Howard, one about writing, a rant about typewriters, the intro to a Henry Kuttner book, and a couple pages about Les Whitten, an obscure horror and suspense writer. They were all interesting and told in the Lansdale front porch bull-shitting session style.
The short stories were entertaining as hell. There's one about a world where everything is on camera, one about a ratty old coat, a story about the preparation of dragon chili, the story of a man who takes a pill that makes him grow uncontrollably, a suicide gone wrong, and a few others, but the best two are these:
Jack's Pecker: Upon waking after a drunken tryst, Jack wakes up to find his genitals missing. They've abandoned him to go see the world. Hilarity ensues.
Rainy Night: A loser is approached in a diner to kill a stranger's wife. Only wifey has other ideas...
Unchained and Unhinged, while slim and on the pricey side, is a welcome addition to any Lansdale fan's bookshelf, with the caveat that half of it is nonfiction. (less)
Sanctified and Chicken-Fried is a collection of Joe R. Lansdale short stories. The cover says The Portable Lansdale. I guess that's true since this is...moreSanctified and Chicken-Fried is a collection of Joe R. Lansdale short stories. The cover says The Portable Lansdale. I guess that's true since this is a best-of collection.
The stories are a combination of old favorites, like Bubba Hotep and Mr. Weedeater, new stories like the Dust Devils, and excerpts from two of Lansdale's novels, the Magic Wagon and A Fine Dark Line. The short stories are great. Rather than review them all, I'll tell you about Mr. Weedeater.
Mr. Weedeater has been my favorite Lansdale short story for about a decade now. Job Harold, redneck and all round loser, sees a blind man trimming the yard of the church next door with a weedeater. He tries to help the blind man but the blind man is on the obnoxious side. Eventually, Job's conscience gets the better of him and he helps the blind man, then lets him relax in his living room. Job's family likes the blind man entirely too much for Job's liking. However, when Job drives the blind man home, his house has burned down and his wife suggests the blind man stay with them. Hilarity ensues.
While I enjoyed the hell out of this collection, I couldn't give it five stars for two reasons. First, only one of the stories was brand spankin' new. Second, I would have much rather had two more stories instead of the novel excerpts. If the collection had included Bestsellers, Guaranteed and the one about the people fighting over the locket containing the Virgin mary's Pubic hair, I would have given it five stars automatically.
If you don't have any Lansdale short story collections, this one is the perfect place to start. Otherwise, read the contents before you buy, although the stories within are good no matter how many times you've read them.(less)
It's been close to a decade since Joe Lansdale gave us another Hap and Leonard tale. Was it worth the wait? HELL YES! I gave it five stars, didn't I?
H...moreIt's been close to a decade since Joe Lansdale gave us another Hap and Leonard tale. Was it worth the wait? HELL YES! I gave it five stars, didn't I?
Hap and Leonard get talked into doing a favor for their friend Marvin. Marvin's granddaughter has been hanging with drug dealers and Hap and Leonard go to bring her back. Things go south for Hap and Leonard, as they always do, and soon the drug dealers are looking for payback. One shootout later and our boys are in the clink. The FBI offers them freedom in exchange for finding the son of a member of the Dixie Maffia and the three hundred thousand dollars he stole. That's when things really get bad...
Mrs. Lansdale's little boy hasn't lost a step. Hap and Leonard's banter is as fresh and dark as ever. The violence is stark and comes in heaping handfuls. While most of the antagonists seem to be there to take bullet holes, Vanilla Ride, the hitwoman the book is named after, is quite a character, a killer with a moral code. I wouldn't be surprised if Old Joe writes a solo adventure for her in the future. The crooked cops from No Enterprise should top anyone's scumbag list. Leonard Pine once again proves what a bad mother he is.
To sum up, if you're a fan of Hap and Leonard, snap this one up. It's the best one since the third or fourth book.
For me, a Joe Lansdale novel is like a visit from that foul-mouthed uncle your parents wish you wouldn't talk to when he comes to family gatherings. T...moreFor me, a Joe Lansdale novel is like a visit from that foul-mouthed uncle your parents wish you wouldn't talk to when he comes to family gatherings. The stories he tells are outside your normal sphere and often make you uncomfortable.
Leather Maiden is about an Iraq war veteran who returns to his home town and starts a job writing for the local paper. He finds out about an unsolved missing person case that happened while he was gone and writes a story about it. Not long after, a mysterious envelope shows up, containing a dvd with his brother and the missing girl engaged in adult situations. Things spiral from there.
Leather Maiden is vintage Joe Lansdale: black humor, gore, interesting characters, and an intriguing story. What else do you need from a mystery novel?
Aside from the selling point of being a Joe Lansdale novel and all that entails, this story has another big thing going for it: I had no idea where things were going until they were 7/8s of the way there. I love that in a book.(less)
Here's a Dangerous Dan review I did for BlackPigeon:
Sometimes, like when you're waiting for a corpse to finish bleeding out in your bathtub so you can...moreHere's a Dangerous Dan review I did for BlackPigeon:
Sometimes, like when you're waiting for a corpse to finish bleeding out in your bathtub so you can dismember it without making such a mess, you need some quick entertainment. Look no further.
Conan and the Songs of the Dead collects a miniseries published by Dark Horse a year or so ago. Songs of the Dead stars the barbarian we all know and love. The illustrator is the esteemed Tim Truman, artist of modules from the golden age of gaming, as well as comics like Scout and the good issues of Grimjack. I could easily go off on a Grimjack tangent but I'll save that for another time. The author of this piece is Joe R. Lansdale, write of such literary gems as the Hap and Leonard series as well as Bubba Hotep. Lansdale and Truman collaborated on several Jonah Hex miniseries for DC a few years ago so Dangerous Dan got really excited when he heard they were tackling the one and only Conan.
The story is as follows: Conan and his comic relief sidekick Alvazar, are charged with retrieving an artifact that looks like a jeweled minotaur penis and bring it to a sorcerer. The sorcerer plans to use the artifact to open a doorway into another dimension and release a great evil. Songs of the Dead is full of dark humor, decapitations, and monsters, like a Conan story should be. (less)
For my money, Joe R. Lansdale's short story collections are always worth a read. This one is no different. Instead of attempting to remember and revie...moreFor my money, Joe R. Lansdale's short story collections are always worth a read. This one is no different. Instead of attempting to remember and review all of the stories, I'll just talk about my favorite one, Bestsellers Guaranteed.
Bestsellers Guaranteed is the story of an aspiring writer who just can't catch a break. One day, he sees an ad in the paper for an agency called Bestsellers Guaranteed. In return for guaranteed slots on the bestsellers chart (whether he writes the book himself or the agency has someone write it for him), he'll be required to kill someone...
In the foreword to the story, Lansdale said the story came out of his frustration with trying to make a living writing. It shows. Hell, I wonder all the time how some books show up on the bestseller's list. Once the writer finds out he's going to have to kill someone, you feel his sense of dread.
This is my second favorite Lansdale collection, right after High Cotton. If you can only buy one, get that one. If you can get two, you have to jump on this one.(less)
Reverend Jebediah Mercer, Lansdale's alcoholic gun-toting preacher, comes to town. Too bad a dying Indian medicine man put a curse on the town and it'...moreReverend Jebediah Mercer, Lansdale's alcoholic gun-toting preacher, comes to town. Too bad a dying Indian medicine man put a curse on the town and it's crawling with zombies...
If you're a zombie fan or a Joe R. Lansdale fan, this slim volume is more than worth the cash. It's got everything you love about zombie stories, set in a western town, and written by the Master of Mojo hisownself, Joe Lansdale.(less)