Friday, November 29, 2013
Review of The Thicket by Joe Lansdale (Mulholland Books, 2013)
Set just as oil is being discovered in Texas and the first cars are bumping along unpaved roads, The Thicket is an adventure yarn that is a mix of Tom Sawyer, Stand by Me and True Grit, with a solid dose of the comic, dark humour that populates Lansdale's Hap and Leonard books. The strengths of the tale is its voice, characterisation, sense of place and time, and plot. The story is told as a form of a reminiscence through a very engaging narrator’s voice that makes it feel as if it’s the transcript of porch-told tale. Jack Parker is a wonderful character, just on the cusp of becoming an adult, but still naive and unworldly, though brave and determined. And Lansdale puts in his company a colourful band of bounty hunters, who are ranged against an equally colourful band of dispicable villians. The plot is a boys own adventure with a large dose of spice and grit, that is perfectly paced with the right balance of action and reflection, and the reader is placed into the landscape of East Texas in the early twentieth century and its social relations and rhythms. Overall, Lansdale is on fine form and The Thicket is a thoroughly enjoyable escapist yarn.