Texas native Lansdale (Edge of Dark Water) uses 20 tales and 10 poems to explore the shadier impulses of human (and nonhuman) nature in this superlative collection. Straight-up noir about a triple-crossed bounty hunter (“Six-Finger Jack”) shares the same East Texas setting as hardboiled yarns that take a sharp turn into territory first explored by H.P. Lovecraft (“The Bleeding Shadow”) and Stephen King (“Dead Sister”). Readers will get tantalizing glimpses of the legend of Deadwood Dick (“Soldierin’ ”; “Hide and Horns”) and a closer look at a sociopathic Smokey Bear (“Mr. Bear”). Lansdale pays tribute to Richard Matheson in “Quarry,” Edgar Rice Burroughs in “The Metal Men of Mars,” and—most enjoyably—Mark Twain in “Dread Island,” a yarn that pits Huck Finn and Brer Rabbit against an eldritch entity. Best of all is “The Stars Are Falling,” a spare Greek tragedy about a soldier’s unexpected return home. This collection shows off Lansdale’s unmatched talent for blending crime, horror, and the supernatural. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013 Release date: 11/01/2013 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.