cover image Bleeding Shadows

Bleeding Shadows

Joe R. Lansdale. Subterranean (, $40 (488p) ISBN 978-1-59606-599-4

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.)