Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Thicket

The ThicketThe Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When his grandfather is murdered and his sister kidnapped by outlaws, young Jack Parker goes looking for vengeance. With a four gauge wielding man named Eustace, a midget sharpshooter named Shorty, and a hog named Hog, he goes hunting for Cutthroat Bill and his gang. Will he survive long enough to find his sister?

I got this ARC from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley! Although it only took two damn months for my request to get approved...

Here we are, the 36th Joe Lansdale book I've read. The Thicket is part True Grit, part coming of age tale, and all Joe Lansdale.

The plot of The Thicket is simple enough. It's a tale of a young man's coming of age and quest for vengeance. In the wake of his parents' death from the pox, Jack and his sister Lula are traveling with their grandfather until they run afoul of some outlaws. Jack survives and meets up with Shorty and Eustace and the tale kicks into high gear.

The usual Lansdale mojo is in full effect. The dialogue is a kind of redneck poetry of profanity and clever similes. Lansdale's ear for dialogue always surprises me. I could easily hear the same dialogue coming out of people down at the local Wal-Mart. And the violence, oh, the violence. There's a steady stream of violence, dolled out like appetizers, until the main course, the bloody shootout at the end.

The characters Jack meets on his adventure are a colorful bunch, from Eustace, the man of mixed blood that wields a damn cannon, to Shorty, the educated little man who is a crack shot, the scarred sheriff Winton, to Jimmie, the whore with a heart of something resembling gold that teaches Jack a few tricks, both in and out of the bedroom.

Since it's a Lansdale book, no one gets out unscathed. The gunfights didn't feel like Hollywood gunfights at all, more chaos than anything else. The entire cast was changed, either by the carnage or by becoming dead.

That's about all I have to say. It's one of the better Lansdale books in recent memory so just read the damn thing!

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