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Cold in July

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  1,490 Ratings  ·  180 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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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Sep 26, 2014 Paquita Maria Sanchez rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
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
May 21, 2014 Michael rated it liked it
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
It's pretty well-known by this point that Joe Lansdale is probably the most versatile author out there, able to successfully jump at whim between so many genres and make it all seem so fresh. Cold in July is a straight -up crime thriller, with a completely different feel and tone from other books I've read by him, including his recent westerns or the comedic adventures of Hap and Leonard.

The novel is initially about the clash between family man Richard Dane, who kills a man trying to burglarize
Jun 24, 2009 Marvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
Nov 05, 2010 Bark's Book Nonsense rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, horror
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
I liked this gritty novel, it’s a classic hardboiled crime fiction piece. I can understand that, because of the violence involved, Lansdale may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I really like his dark writing style.
This novel deals with intense father-son relationships, Russel is an ex-con with a peculiar sense of justice, when he learns that his son Freddie has been killed while carrying out an home invasion he wants revenge, however (view spoiler)
Oct 27, 2016 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
With every new Lansdale I meet I am amazed afresh at his ability to tell a great story, a story that's dark and twisted and terribly human, a story with interesting characters and authentic feeling locales, a story that grips and entertains and makes you ponder what life is all about, basically genre writing at its finest. And Cold in July is all of these things, despite seeing the fantastic movie several times there's plenty to be discovered and enjoyed within the pages of Lansdale's writing, a ...more
Steve Vernon
Dec 18, 2009 Steve Vernon rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 24, 2010 Johnny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 16, 2014 Frank Errington rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 06, 2014 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 28, 2012 Ed rated it liked it
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
Apr 04, 2011 DJMikeG rated it really liked it
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
Oct 09, 2011 Ben Loory rated it liked it
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.
Aug 23, 2008 Ken rated it it was amazing
For those of you unfamiliar with Joe, just pick one up and you'll be an instant fan.
Jun 13, 2008 Godzilla rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, 2008
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.
May 28, 2014 Kevintipple rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Edythe Hamilton
Feb 25, 2014 Edythe Hamilton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 17, 2013 Bill rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 08, 2014 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw a trailer for the movie and read positive reviews so I added to my DVD queue. I then found out it was based on a book so I got the book to read first before seeing the movie (which I have still yet to see). I love to read a book and then watch the movie based on it to see the difference and how it has been adapted.

This was a great read. A book about fathers and sons and their relationships. It was a good thriller/drama with three interesting characters who are different from one another in
Brett McBean
Jul 10, 2017 Brett McBean rated it liked it
Cops Obfuscate Lawbreaker’s Death In Neo-noir Jaunt. Unpretentious Lansdale Yarn
Jürgen Zeller
Aug 17, 2015 Jürgen Zeller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 04, 2015 Piker7977 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
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
Mar 20, 2012 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joe R. Lansdale is tough to pigeonhole as a writer. Most of his works tend to fall between genres, mixing them together until they come together into something unique. In COLD IN JULY, Lansdale pretty much plays it straight, and creates an unpredictable and suspenseful thriller.

I can't add to much that previous reviewers haven't already said. It's well-written, and it has some nice, unpredictable plot twists. It's a Lansdale novel, so there's colorful Texas characters and some unsavory dialogue
Dec 26, 2014 Alecia rated it liked it
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
Jan 15, 2017 Gary rated it liked it
A short book that describes the momentous events of a relatively short time for the characters in a concise way that keeps you reading when you should have put it down and turned the lights out. Written in 1989 it deals with serious themes such as fatherhood and hideous crimes in a way that if written today by a more modern author would perhaps have had more action and less human characterisation and this is probably Mr Lansdale forte (this is his first book for me). The characters, main and sub ...more
Nov 24, 2012 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I love Joe R. Lansdale's work. I have read a few novels and his short story 'Incident on and off the Mountain Road' which was fabulous. I gave this book 3 stars and would probably give 3.5 if I could but don't think that I did not like the book. It is good. All of his stuff is good but I liked the other books such as 'Edge of Dark Water' and 'The Bottoms' more than this one. Just my own preference and like I said all of Lansdale is good. Ordinary people find themselves in un-ordinary circumstanc ...more
Sep 03, 2012 Nigel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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
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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 co-e ...more
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