cover image Radiant Apples

Radiant Apples

Joe R. Lansdale. Subterranean, $40 (160p) ISBN 978-1-64524-041-9

This highly entertaining quickie is less outrageous than usual for Lansdale (Hot in December); set in the early 1900s, it’s a straightforward narrative centered on Nat Love, an important figure in African American history who was a Buffalo Soldier, a U.S. Marshal, a performer in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show—and, as this tale begins, a Pullman car porter on the Cotton Belt Line. His sedate routine is broken when the Radiant Apple Gang attempts a train robbery—and Nat recognizes one of their number as his prodigal son, Rufus. Hired by the railroad to look into the crime, Nat enlists his tracker friend Choctaw and sets off after the outlaws for the sake of justice, money, a chance to reconnect with his son, and the pleasure of being away from civilization and the constant climate of racial prejudice. Nat enjoys the chase but realizes his “time as a manhunter was coming to an end” as “criminals had all turned to banking, politics and preaching.” Indeed, the Radiant Apple gang are a scruffy bunch, dangerous only for their brutality and possession of automatic weapons—which make the final showdown in Hootie Hoot, Okla., breathtakingly gory. This characteristically droll, tough-minded yarn is sure to please Lansdale’s fans. Agent: Danny Baror, Baror International. (Nov.)