Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Things Get Ugly ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tour Excerpt & Giveaway!

The Best Crime Stories of
Joe R. Lansdale

Crime Fiction / Mystery / Short Stories
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Date of Publication: August 15, 2023
Number of Pages: 352 pages 

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale (the Hap and Leonard series) returns to the piney, dangerous woods of East Texas. In this career retrospective of his best crime stories, Lansdale shows exactly why critics continue to compare him to Elmore Leonard, Donald Westlake, Flannery O’Connor, and William Faulkner.
  • In the 1950s, a young small-town projectionist mixes it up with a violent gang.
  • When Mr. Bear is not alerting us to the dangers of forest fires, he lives a life of debauchery and murder.
  • A brother and sister travel to Oklahoma to recover the dead body of their uncle.
  • A lonely man engages in dubious acts while pining for his rubber duckie.
In this collection of nineteen unforgettable crime tales, Joe R. Lansdale brings his legendary mojo and witty grit to harrowing heists, revenge, homicide, and mayhem. No matter how they begin, things are bound to get ugly—and fast.

“A terrifically gifted storyteller.” -– Washington Post Book Review

“One of the best crime writers in the business.” -- Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of The Revelators

“While Lansdale’s work is as varied as the regions of Texas, there is one common link through it all: his brilliant storytelling.” –- Grimdark Magazine

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An Excerpt
Joe R. Lansdale

            But as she negotiated the curve a blue Buick seemed to grow out of the ground in front of her. It was parked on the shoulder of the road, at the peak of the curve, its nose sticking out a foot too far, its rear end against the moon-wet, silver railing that separated the curve from a mountainous plunge.

            Had she been going an appropriate speed, missing the Buick wouldn’t have been a problem, but at her speed she was swinging too far right, directly in line with it, and was forced, after all, to use her brakes. When she did, the back wheels slid and the brakes groaned and the front of the Chevy hit the Buick, and there was a sound like an explosion and then for a dizzy instant she felt as if she were in the tumblers of a dryer.

            Through the windshield came: Moonlight. Blackness. Moonlight.

            One high bounce and a tight roll, and the Chevy came to rest upright with the engine dead, the right side flush against the railing. Another inch of jump or greater impact against the rail, and the Chevy would have gone over.

            Ellen felt a sharp pain in her leg and reached down to discover that during the tumble she had banged it against something, probably the gear shift, and had ripped her stocking and her flesh. Blood was trickling into her shoe. Probing her leg cautiously with the tips of her fingers, she determined the wound wasn’t bad and that all other body parts were operative.

            She unfastened her seat belt, and as a matter of habit, located her purse and slipped its strap over her shoulder. She got out of the Chevy feeling wobbly, eased around front of it and saw the hood and bumper and roof were crumpled. A wisp of radiator steam hissed from beneath the wadded hood, rose into the moonlight and dissolved.

            She turned her attentions to the Buick. Its tail end was now turned to her, and as she edged alongside it, she saw the front left side had been badly damaged. Fearful of what she might see, she glanced inside.

            The moonlight shone through the rear windshield bright as a spotlight and revealed no one, but the back seat was slick with something dark and wet and there was plenty of it. A foul scent seeped out of a partially rolled-down back window. It was a hot coppery smell that gnawed at her nostrils and ached her stomach.

            God, someone had been hurt. Maybe thrown free of the car, or perhaps they had gotten out and crawled off. But when? She and the Chevy had been airborne for only a moment, and she had gotten out of the vehicle instants after it ceased to roll. Surely she would have seen someone get out of the Buick, and if they had been thrown free by the collision, wouldn’t at least one of the Buick’s doors be open? If it had whipped back and closed, it seemed unlikely that it would be locked, and all the doors of the Buick were locked, and all the glass was intact, and only on her side was it rolled down, and only a crack. Enough for the smell of the blood to escape, not enough for a person to slip through unless they were thin and flexible as a feather.

            On the other side of the Buick, on the ground, between the back door and the railing, there were drag marks and a thick swath of blood, and another swath on the top of the railing; it glowed there in the moonlight as if it were molasses laced with radioactivity.

Ellen moved cautiously to the railing and peered over.

            No one lay mangled and bleeding and oozing their guts. The ground was not as precarious there as she expected it. It was pebbly and sloped out gradually and there was a trail going down it. The trail twisted slightly and as it deepened the foliage grew denser on either side of it. Finally it curlicued its way into the dark thicket of a forest below, and from the forest, hot on the wind, came the strong turpentine tang of pines and something less fresh and not as easily identifiable.

            Now she saw someone moving down there, floating up from the forest like an apparition; a white face split by silver—braces, perhaps. She could tell from the way this someone moved that it was a man. She watched as he climbed the trail and came within examination range. He seemed to be surveying her as carefully as she was surveying him.

            Could this be the driver of the Buick?

            As he came nearer Ellen discovered she could not identify the expression he wore. It was neither joy or anger or fear or exhaustion or pain. It was somehow all and none of these.

            When he was ten feet away, still looking up, that same odd expression on his face, she could hear him breathing. He was breathing with exertion, but not to the extent she thought him tired or injured. It was the sound of someone who had been about busy work.

            She yelled down, “Are you injured?”

            He turned his head quizzically, like a dog trying to make sense of a command, and it occurred to Ellen that he might be knocked about in the head enough to be disoriented.

            “I’m the one who ran into your car,” she said. “Are you all right?”

            His expression changed then, and it was most certainly identifiable this time. He was surprised and angry. He came up the trail quickly, took hold of the top railing, his fingers going into the blood there, and vaulted over and onto the gravel.

            Ellen stepped back out of his way and watched him from a distance. The guy made her nervous. Even close up, he looked like some kind of spook.

            He eyed her briefly, glanced at the Chevy, turned to look at the Buick.

            “It was my fault,” Ellen said.

            He didn’t reply, but returned his attention to her and continued to cock his head in that curious dog sort of way.

            Ellen noticed that one of his shirt sleeves was stained with blood, and that there was blood on the knees of his pants, but he didn’t act as if he were hurt in any way. He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out something and made a move with his wrist. Out flicked a lock-blade knife. The thin edge of it sucked up the moonlight and spat it out in a silver spray that fanned wide when he held it before him and jiggled it like a man working a stubborn key into a lock. He advanced toward her, and as he came, his lips split and pulled back at the corners, exposing not braces, but metal-capped teeth that matched the sparkle of his blade.

Joe R. Lansdale (Savage SeasonThe Donut Legion) is the internationally bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including the popular, long-running Hap and Leonard novels. Many of his cult classics have been adapted for television and film, most famously the films Bubba Ho-Tep and Cold in July and the Hap and Leonard series on Sundance TV and Netflix. Lansdale has written numerous screenplays and teleplays, including for the iconic Batman: The Animated Series. He has won an Edgar Award for The Bottoms and ten Stoker Awards, and he has been designated a World Horror Grandmaster. Lansdale, like many of his characters, lives in East Texas, with his wife, Karen.

Each receives print copies of
Things Get Ugly & Born for Trouble
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 8/18/23)

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