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Edge of Dark Water

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  2,839 ratings  ·  459 reviews
May Lynn was a pretty girl from a mean family who dreamed of becoming a film star. Now she's dead - her body dredged up from the Sabine River, bound with wire and weighted down. Her best friend, Sue Ellen, wants to take her ashes to Hollywood. But May Lynn's diary holds a secret: the location of a large sum of money.
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Mulholland Books
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
3.5 stars

Sue Ellen and her friends are helping her daddy fish (poison the fish with green walnuts because her daddy is lazy) and they end up finding the body of one of Sue Ellen's friends in the Sabine River. She has been tied to an old sewing machine so that she doesn't come back up, Sue Ellen's daddy and her uncle both want to just throw the body back in the river but the kids won't let them.
The story is set back in the Depression so finding a body was not the big deal it has become today.
Dan Schwent
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, lansdale
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 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.
Oct 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: grit-lit

this book was just okay.

it's a little east texas huck finn-ette story about a bunch of misfits who take to a raft after their friend is found at the bottom of the river with her hands wrapped in wire and attached to a sewing machine. turns out, she has a map to some buried cash, so they decide to take the money and her ashes to scatter her in hollywood, which is where she would have been headed had she not been, you know, murdered.

so all the misfit toys escape their demons and go on a river
I must alert you, do you smell something in the air?
As that would have been a sign that the myth of the Skunk Man is real, his presence is known by a skunk like smell. A legend or a myth, be he what you please, he is a character that Lansdale has created in this story of fiction. He certainly adds a thrill to the tale. Skunk man presents death, a bogeyman like character that one shall tell tales of and our main characters in this story hope to be not true.

Sue Ellen a young woman,
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Imma quote Clairee's famous line from that play set in the magnolia-dotted, small Louisiana town: if you don't have anything nice to say... come sit by me.

Pull up a chair, darlin.

Lansdale seems to be loved by lots of southern literary fans, but Im sorry to say that this second of his books that Ive read doesn't count me as one of them.

The story is narrated by a 16 year old East Texas gal back in the Depression era. Her two best friends and her Cure-All sipping mama accompany her in this
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: coming-of-age
Another wonderful adventure involving youth and harrowing experiences. Great characters and a great read from the Champion Mojo Storyteller Hisownself :)
Jan 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
"Mama, if you had a friend got drowned, and you found her body, and she always wanted to go to Hollywood to be a movie star, would it be wrong to dig her up after she was buried, burn her to ashes, take them down to Gladewater in a jar, catch a bus, and take her out to Hollywood?"

Yeah...strange as that sounds, the above paragraph is, in a nutshell, the plot of this book.

Poor May Lynn! An East Texas girl with only one dress to wear, she had big dreams of being a star, but she ended up dead in the
Is there a more prolific writer of westerns than Joe Lansdale? Endlessly inventive, Lansdale has both a series featuring Hap & Leonard, and a slew of standalones in which he shares the way even good people can get themselves in a bad way in a world with evil in it.

In this novel, published in 2012 by Mulholland Books, 16-year-old Sue Ellen is narrating. She lives in a small southern town and has two friends her age: a white gay boy named Terry who is reluctant to let anyone know his
Steve Lowe
Mar 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great characterization, good plot, took me a bit to really get into it, but once they got moving down the river I was hooked (see what I did there?)

Bonus points for a scene that literally made me jump. This is no hyperbole, and I honestly can't remember the last time I was scared bad enough to flinch while reading a book (14 years old reading the tunnel scene in THE STAND maybe?), but there's a scene toward the end, one paragraph in particular, that made me catch the vapors. It was so bitchin'.

Diane Barnes
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it
3 stars because I kept turning pages to see what would happen, and because the voice of the narrator and her two friends were wonderful (especially Jinx). But there were a lot of inconsistencies in this story and a remarkable dead body count in 300 pages, with law enforcement either part of it or looking the other way out of laziness. A nice entertainment for a warm afternoon on my screened porch, but nothing more.
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm really becoming a fan of Lansdale. Starting to think that his Drive In books were just a one off, since all other books I've read by his were excellent. This one reminded me of The Bottoms. Same lyrical quality. Always the same location, and, while I may never develop appreciation for East Texas or see its charms, it certainly makes for a good story setting. This one takes place somewhere in the 1930's and there is something incredibly powerful and honest about the way Lansdale describes the ...more
Bri | bribooks
Having finished this book, one will know they did not just read a novel — they had an experience.

East Texas, 1933. A teenaged girl’s corpse is found, tied, in a river. After her burial, her three friends decide to exhume and cremate her body and transfer it to Hollywood — the Land of Dreams, especially in 1930s rural America — where their now-deceased friend always dreamt of going. She wanted to be a star.

And that’s only where the story begins.

Out from there unravels a mystifying tale of murder
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read_2012, favorites, own
An atmospheric period piece which unearths the diluted humanity of a time where equal stature regardless of gender, race, and sexual preference was unheard of rendering one class above all with the rest left to fight for scraps. The trials and tribulations of the underclass documented within ‘Edge of Dark Water’ are confronting, raw, and powerful. For Sue Ellen, living amongst the perpetual weary dream-like trance of her parental figures who either ignore or pay her too much unwanted attention, ...more
Kim Kaso
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the voices of the young people were distinctive, & the phrases they used made me laugh out loud. The pacing was good, many threats to overcome. It slowed a bit while they resided with the pastor, but the arrival of their various pursuers, particularly Skunk, got things moving right along. I cared about Sue Ellen, Jinx, and Terry, and found their irreverent and pragmatic views on life and their relatives quite refreshing. Some thought this was not Lansdale’s ...more
reread review October, 2018
I enjoyed this as much the second time around as the first. I really believe that listening is the way to go with Edge of Dark Water. Angele Masters is true to her name - masterful! This starts out seeming like a straight-forward story about people living in poverty in 1930's depression-era deep east Texas and the quest of three teenagers to get out of town. But it develops to include local swamp folk tales, best told round the campfire. Is Skunk - the ugly stinky evil
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
PROTAGONIST: Sue Ellen Wilson
SETTING: Depression era East Texas
SERIES: Standalone

Have you ever finished reading a book and found yourself having to fall back in your chair and take a deep breath while you marvel at its wonderfulness? That’s what happened to me when I read EDGE OF DARK WATER; moreover, I felt that somehow it had become part of my very being. I was amazed to find myself loving EDGE so much. It’s been a few years since I’ve had that experience; I feared that I had become
William Thomas
Apr 25, 2012 rated it liked it
There is no truer American experience than the Southern American experience. And for all of those who have captured it with a clarity, depth and brilliance- Harper Lee, Truman Capote, Mark Twain, Flannery O'Connor- thank you, for that. Joe R Lansdale, this book doesn't put you on that list no matter how many nods and winks to those authors you make.

I had to really restrain myself from giving this fewer stars. I kept reminding myself that it wasn't his fault that almost every reviewer was
Jun 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Not the best Lansdale has to offer but still good.

"Edge of Dark Water" is the story of three friends who embark on a journey down the Sabine River in east Texas. Their reason for going is ostensibly to take the ashes of their dead friend, May Lynn, to Hollywood because she always aspired to be an actress and make it big in Hollywood. The underlying reason for their trip is to escape the confines of their lives, and each of the three suffers in different ways. Sue Ellen is the narrator of the
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Joe Lansdale seems to be in a rut lately. Fortunately it is a good rut. His last two books, not counting the brief Hap and Leonard novellas, featured children on the run. All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky is considered YA and so is, I believe, Edge of Dark Water. But it's pretty rough and unusual YA if it is that.

He also seems to be channeling Mark Twain. This novel has a lot of similarities to Huckleberry Finn right down to the raft and various racial issues. The novel takes place in East Texas
Tom Mathews
While any book by Joe Lansdale is better than any book by most other authors, logic dictates that some of his books will be better than others and visa versa. So it is with this standalone thriller. The narrator and characters are well constructed and entertaining but the plot is often disjointed and some what happens seems to be thrown in.
Bottom line: I still enjoyed the book but there are several of Lansdale's books that are far better.
My thanks to the folks at the On the Southern Literary
Sam Sattler
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Joe Lansdale’s new novel, Edge of Dark Water, can be characterized as Huckleberry Finn on steroids (an easily imagined image for today’s sports fans), but a more apt categorization of the book is one author Joe Hill uses for it: hillbilly noir. I love that term and the image it creates.

Set in rural East Texas, an area Joe Lansdale calls home, this depression-era novel recounts the very personal quest that16-year-old Sue Ellen, her alcoholic mother, and Sue Ellen’s two closet friends embark upon,
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: overdrive, audio
Start with a beautiful teen girl found murdered and thrown in the river with a Singer sewing machine tied to her, add in her three young friends coming of age in depressed E. Texas who all run off to take the dead girl’s ashes to Hollywood, a mother addicted to laudanum, a scary legendary slimeball who chops off the hands of people he is paid to hunt down, plus an awesome outspoken narrator in the form of Sue Ellen Wilson, and it’s sheer entertainment. Some of the gory parts were pretty graphic, ...more
How did Sue Ellen, the novel's determined adolescent protagonist, find herself on a raft in the middle of the Sabine River in East Texas with two friends, her mother, the ashes of a deceased friend and a tin can filled with stolen money hoping to get to California?

The impetus of this journey occurred when Sue Ellen's friend, May Lynn, was found dead after being pulled from the Sabine River. May Lynn's dream was always to travel to Hollywood to become a movie star. Sue Ellen convinces her friends
Frank Errington
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I totally enjoyed getting lost in the world Joe R. Lansdale has created in Edge of Dark Water. Set during the Great depression in East Texas, the story is about Sue Ellen Wilson and her friends Jinx Smith, a colored girl, and Terry Thomas who is considered a "sissy" by his friends, who set out on a jouney to take the ashes of their friend, May Lynn Baxter, to California.

May Lynn's body was found by Sue Ellen and her Daddy one day when they were fishing and I use the term fishing loosely since we
Sue Ellen, Terry, and Jinx make plans to take the ashes of their friend May Ellen to Hollywood by taking a raft down the Sabine River in East Texas during the Depression. What ensues is an adventure and suspense filled story that will have you on the edge of your seats. The story invokes past southern literary authors suck as Harper Lee, Mark Twain and William Faulkner. Joe R Lansdale is an amazing tale-spinner. Just the right amount of suspense and humor with a wonderful gift for dialogue.
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
May Lynn is a pretty girl who dreams of becoming a Hollywood star. Until her dead body is dredged up from the Sabine River. Sue Ellen, May Lynn¿s strong-willed teenage friend, and her friends Terry and Jinx set out to dig up May Lynn¿s body, burn it to ash, and take those ashes to Hollywood. If May Lynn can¿t become a star, then at least her remains can be spread in the land of her dreams.
This is Mr. Lansdale at his best.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Debra by: Gatorman
This is the second novel I've read by Lansdale and I absolutely love the way he tells stories. The characters are well-defined, the story flows smoothly, is action-packed and exciting; at times terrifying. I basically read it in one day; couldn't put it down. Highly recommended.
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, ha-tbr-2019, a-z-2019
Good story, excellent writing, but still somehow felt like it went on a bit too long at times.
11811 (Eleven)
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent mystery. Every bit as good as The Bottoms.
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

Edge of Dark Water is my first Joe Lansdale novel. I know, I know! The man is something of a legend, and I’m a bit ashamed that I’m just now discovering the awesome. But you have to start somewhere, yes? Anyway, I saw a blurb for Edge that said something along the lines of “a mix of Mark Twain and classic Stephen King.” Yes, please! As it turns out, that statement was pretty accurate. The voice of Edge of Dark Water is 16
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Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe R. Lansdale is the author of over forty novels and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in national anthologies, magazines, and collections, as well as numerous foreign publications. He has written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and Internet sites. His work has been collected in more than two dozen short-story collections, and he has edited or ...more
“It was the kind of talk that made me want to break off a limb and take to whacking her and that bunch of hypocrites across the back of the head.” 10 likes
“Era semplicemente il fiume. Improvvisamente mi colpì il pensiero che era proprio come la vita, quel fiume. Tu ci navighi semplicemente sopra e, se arriva una pioggia forte, un'inondazione o qualcosa del genere e una parte viene spazzata via, col tempo tutto torna al suo posto. Be', magari con qualcosa di diverso, ma in sostanza resta lo stesso. Il fiume non cambia, ma la gente su quel fiume sì.” 3 likes
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