Waltz of Shadows Vol. 1: A Novel of Suspense

Joe R. Lansdale, Author, Mark A. Nelson, Author, Mark A. Nelson, Illustrator Subterranean Press $50 (300p) ISBN 978-1-892284-29-7
Bill, who's 24, hooks up with the Disaster Club, four hedonistic youths obsessed with sex and death who plan to throw a scare into a philandering doctor. While they stake out the doctor, they stumble into a hit on his wife. The hired assassins are Fat Boy and Cobra Man, both major-league psycho killers. The wife is butchered, as are Bill's companions; he escapes and turns to his Uncle Hank for help. Reluctantly, Hank gets involved, recruiting his long-estranged brother Arnold and going up against the gruesome twosome. This launches The Lost Lansdale, Subterranean's issue of older, unpublished work from the much-admired noir crime writer (Bad Chili, Freezer Burn, etc.). The author's longtime readers will note his trademark deluge of salty profanity, stark East Texas settings, casual violence and graphic excess. They will also encounter an uncharacteristic lack of humor and a tedious predictability: the characters that wise readers expect to survive generally do, the remainder are far less fortunate. Of the many violent scenes, only one featuring a rape manages to truly shock. While not without raw power and some stylistic flourishes, this novel, written in 1991, is inferior to Lansdale's more recent work and will appeal mostly to collectors and the most dedicated fans. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/28/1999
Release date: 07/01/1999
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