The Donut Legion
by Joe R. Lansdale
A former detective's search for his ex-wife leads to a cult that thinks aliens are coming to save them in The Donut Legion, a dark-humored murder mystery from Joe R. Lansdale (Moon Lake; More Better Deals). Charlie and his brother, Felix, used to run a detective agency, but Charlie left it behind. Late one night, Charlie gets a visit from his ex-wife, Meg, who asks him to investigate the murder of Ethan, her husband, and warns him to beware of omelets. Before Charlie can understand, he realizes Meg isn't really there at all.
Felix thinks Charlie had a hallucination. The landlord says Meg and Ethan paid their rent in advance and left. Felix agrees something isn't right, and it all leads to a cult of alien believers known as the Saucer People who live on a compound awaiting the arrival of a savior spaceship. The Saucer People run a string of donut shops and allow tourist visits to the compound, so the police view the cult as good for the local economy. Then an old friend of Felix's shows up to warn the brothers to back off. Charlie isn't going to back down, and Felix doesn't respond well to threats--or to the Saucer People. Plenty of hilarious insults fly between the good, the bad and the crazy, and it all leads to one outcome: mayhem.
Lansdale's solid murder mystery is filled with self-deprecating witticisms, wry observations and outright violence, but underneath all that is a bittersweet story of love and loss. New readers and diehard fans of this author should enjoy the taste of this Donut. --Paul Dinh-McCrillis, freelance reviewer
This book touched on cult-like conspiracy theorists which always interest me. The characters were one-of-a-kind and that made this a book i’ll certainly remember as I read others in the genre.
DNFd this one.
I am dumbfounded that the writing that I read in the first five chapters comes from such an accomplished and well loved author. The dialogue was so cringey and it seemed like the author wrote millennial characters that are meant to be boomers? Like why are these 37ish year olds talking like they are approaching 70?
Also of course Felix is a failed psychiatrist with no bed side manners. He has no manners to begin with.
It just seemed the characters were so undeveloped leading to the dialogue that made no sense. Characters needed more building before the plot took off.
Landsdale became a new favorite author of mine over the past few years and an instant buy author as well. I absolutely enjoyed this story and I eagerly await his next one!
Fringe groups, doomsday cult and a raft of oddball characters. It's Joe R. Lansdale at his best, in this standalone novel. Totally enjoyable read, and I'm an obvious fan of this author.
Meg comes and visits her ex-husband Charlie in the middle of the night asking him to investigate a murder but then she vanishes. He calls in his brother Felix, the private investigator, and they start checking into Meg's and her current partner Ethan's disappearances in a local town. Meg had been working at a donut shop affiliated with a saucer cult headquartered right outside the town. Their search for clues stirred up trouble with local cops and the saucer folks. This being East Texas, there had to be a monkey involved - Mr. Biggs controlled by Cowboy who managed security for the saucer folks. And this being Joe Lansdale, there has to be several fight scenes and romantic interests for Charlie and Felix. Overall, an interesting visit to Lansdale's East Texas.
Thanks Netgalley for the chance to read this title.
Exciting premise. Good ideas are great, but good execution is needed as well.
The protagonist and other characters are just a little too slick and cool with every situation. Characters seem to have the same thought processes and voice. Kind of a clumsy landing. Not unreadable but a bit annoying.
The characters seemed to put in world observations like grumpy old men complaining about things-these-days. It also is a pet peeve of mine when characters spend a lot of time talking about where to go to talk about what to do next.
Let’s go get coffee and discuss this development…I’ll come to your place
No I’ll come to yours
Or we could go to the cafe
Lots of that in this.
Just didn’t grab me, I wanted it too but couldn’t get there.
This story is part farce and part romp and completely enjoyable to read. At first, the idea of a cult being run out of a donut shop seemed too far out, but as the story progressed, it became just fine as a plot element.
It was fun to read the mish-mash of mystery, horror, and large doses of humor as two brothers Charlie - a writer - and Felix - a private investigator - investigate the cultish group known as The Saucer People. The reason for hte investigation is the fact that Meg, Charlie's ex-wife was last seen at a local donut shop run by the Saucer People, who believe that the huge mound of dirt on their property hides an alien spaceship that long ago crashed to earth.
Followers of the cult give their money to the leaders while they wait for the second coming of the extraterrestrials, and Charlie suspects that his ex got caught up in the scam. While trying to sort if out and find Meg, the brothers face a wide assortment of men bent on protecting the secrets of the cult, and a really nasty chimp named Mr. Biggs.
Lansdale knows how to weave an engrossing tale with plenty of gore, if that's what you like to see in the narrative, and humor in the right places to ease the tensions of the story. Always an enjoyable read.
Running a Cult Is a Great Job, If You Can Get It
Joe Lansdale is one of my favorite authors. He has a distinctive voice imbued with worldly wisdom. There's a grittiness to his stories that make them seem uncomfortably real, but his main characters, like Charlie, have a basic philosophy at their core that makes them reassuring and likable.
Lansdale often uses true incidents from Texas history in his stories. This one has incorporated the 1897 report of a spaceship that crashed into Judge J.S. Proctor's windmill on his farm near the Western town of Aurora, NW of Fort Worth.
After it was written up in the Dallas Morning News, word of the crashed cigar-shaped ship and dead alien in the wreckage spread all over the country and became part of UFOlogical lore. As far as I know, the rest of the events are fictional, but you never know.
His books don't always have a tinge of the uncanny, but when they do, it adds an edge that thrills me, a horror fan. I liked the ambiguity that Charlie must contend with, whether he only dreamed that his ex-wife appeared to him, or that she's in trouble and has reached out to him somehow.
I like that he doesn't quit looking for her. Lansdale is a master of building suspense that explodes into action at a moment's notice.
Lansdale's characters are unforgettable. The brothers in this book aren't Hap and Leonard, but I've become fond of them and I hope to see more of Charlie and Felix, and Scrappy and Cherry as well.
Thank you to Joe Lansdale, Mulholland books, and NetGalley for the gift of an advance reader's copy. I have no obligation to give a positive review, but I sincerely loved this book.
The Donut Legion - Joe R. Lansdale
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this eARC.
This novel begins as Charlie, the book's main character has a "visit" from his ex-wife, Meg, who he hasn't heard from in a while. As time goes on Charlie starts worrying about Meg's well-being, and his concern escalates when he finds Meg and her husband's home deserted, with moving boxes packed. Charlie's search rapidly progresses to the Saucer Donut shop where she was last employed, and that begins the point at which this story begins to take a fantasy, sort of science-fiction twist as the reader encounters a very violent chimpanzee (NOT a monkey) capable of ripping humans from limb to limb, as well as his equally violent human companion 🤠 Cowboy, a mastodon of a human.
Lansdale is wonderful, due to his districtly weird imagination which he allows to run rampant through the pages of this book.
Note: This novel is not for the faint of heart, Joe's descriptions, violence, and even the threats of the characters he creates can be a bit imaginative and gritty.
However, if you take a chance on this novel, you will find it can appeal equally to mystery and fantasy fans.
Joe R. Landsdale is a true and rare talent, and personally, I am glad he is around to stretch our imaginations as he delights us in rare and unique ways.
Until next time, limit your breakfast sugar intake, especially donuts, or you could experience unexpected results!
With as many awards and accolades Joe R. Lansdale has, I expected to discover another great author to add to my list of favorites. The cover and title both are eye-catching, and the summary sounded like something quirky from The X-Files or Twin Peaks. This is definitely a slow-burn sort of book, starting out with the mystery of the missing ex-wife who may or may not have joined a Saucer Person cult, but divulges into a wide cast of characters. I don't particularly mind a slower-paced book, but I think it was the dialogue and attitude of the main characters that threw me. Charlie, Felix, Cherry, and Scrappy are supposed to be millennials, but they talk like boomers. Charlie especially. If it wasn't said in the book that Charlie was in his 30s, I would have said that he's 50s-60s. I liked the attempt at a Scooby-Doo gang investigation, and the villains and other characters were pretty good. I do think Charlie also sounded a bit sexist in the writing of Scrappy. The constant talk of "the alphabet" was annoying. I don't think I will judge Lansdale by this book and would like to check out other work before I make a decision on whether I like his stuff or not. I won't be in a huge hurry to do so, however. I'm sure others will love this book, but it just wasn't for me. Thanks NetGalley and Publisher for the ARC!
I stopped reading this early on because the dialogue was super choppy and the women weren't written like women. The opening conversation with the ex was so not how people talk and I hated it. Also, I don't care about the authors thoughts on COVID
Thank you #netgalley & Mulholland Books for the eARC version in exchange for a review.
This is the first book I've read by Lansdale. A crazy murder mystery thriller. I was very intrigued with the story blip of a missing exwife, a cult, and a donut shop. The plot was very good. Interesting colorful & lively characters. Lansdale pushed all the right buttons for sympathy for characters. Hate for characters. And fearful of the right people.
However, I found the conversations between characters to be a bit choppy and the writing overall was overly flourished. I was especially disappointed by the portrayal of the two youngest characters. One a male & one a female. It did not go unnoticed that even though both help to solve the case in their own way; The male had a conversation with Charlie that sounded way too mature and educated for how he was portrayed and the female, introduced later in the story, was definitely placed a bit of lower class with her jump into bed attitude. The hankie pankie was added to connect characters. Because a man and a woman can't make that connection without the bedroom I guess. (sarcasm in case you didn't catch it). But at least her voice fit the character.
I have to agree with the character Scrappy, the book is wordy. It touches a small bit on the pandemic but I didn't find it overly political about it. May not have been necessary but it's there & showing the current times. I give it 2.5 stars. If you're far left/right, then I don't recommend it. You'll find something to be angry about. If you like a very descriptive story that puts you right into the scene and you don't mind some blood and heinous murder scenes, then go for it. I can honestly say I was not hungry for a donut afterwards.
This is a story about a ragtag group of individuals investigating a donut-peddling UFO-worshipping cult in East Texas. This book has a beautiful cover. That is about where my list of positive things to say about this book ends. I believe there is an audience for this book. I also believe that I am not a member of that audience. One of the main things that turned me off of this book were the frequent references to bestiality. They were made in a joking way that felt crude and uncalled for. The number of times this issue popped up was ABSURD. Outside of the bestiality comments, there were many general crude comments that were off putting. (i.e. “He had a high sweet voice like Minnie Mouse during sex with Mickey. Or, if she was promiscuous, Goofy.”) The strange quips and stream of consciousness statements of this book were confusing and distracting. The main characters are depicted as being in their 20s and 30s. I could not keep this straight in my mind. I continuously pictured them as being in their 50s or 60s. Their voices were not believable Millennial voices. Everything about the dialogue in this story felt so outdated. If the characters were going to be that young, this story would’ve had to have been set in the 70s or 80s to make sense. And no, it was not because they are southern. A major plot point of this story is the search for the main characters ex-wife. At one point I forgot that was the goal of the main character. I forgot the ex-wife character existed at all. The woman characters in this story did not feel like women. I don’t know how else to describe it. This book took me over a month to finish but it held my interest enough for me to want to know how the story ended. The ending disappointed me and seemed completely separate from the rest of the story. This book left me confused, unsatisfied and feeling kind of icky. This book was clearly not for me. I think it may find a home with the 50+ male demographic.
I received a free eARC of this title from the publisher through NetGalley...
This was a fantastic ride, from the author of the Hap & Leonard series and many more works. I mention H&L because this reminded me of those, in the setting and tone, and in the fast pace of the narrative.
A fun, quick read from one of today's master storytellers...
Charlie Garner is an ex-cop, ex-investigator and a current novelist who is visited by his ex-wife Meg, asking him to look into her husband’s murder. But Meg wasn’t there. Was it a ghost, a dream, a vision?
Charlie decides to go see Meg and learns she and her husband are missing.
Meg is a member of a doomsday cult and Charlie’s dogged refusal to give up on finding Meg, results in threats and violence.
A fast moving story with a great cast of characters, snappy dialogue and creepy bad guys, Donut Legion was a fun and engaging read. The book felt current and prophetic, and used fictional cult-mentality to discuss the ease in which average people can get sucked into believing crazy things.
Lansdale has a great way of using inner monologue and clever conversation to reveal his characters’ deeply hidden motivations and wants and needs to propel the storyline.
I just finished reading The Donut Legion by Joe R. Landsdale and I have some thoughts. First I want to say that I liked the story, the cult business, and I love that Joe R. Landsdale writes about West Texas. He mentions places and towns that I love like Lufkin, TX. The cult, a poor man’s version of Scientology, owns a chain of donut shops all around Texas. And like most cults, it got weird and messed up pretty quickly. Charlie, the main character that writes books and used to be a PI, had a ghostly visit from his ex-wife who he still cares about. This starts the whole thing into motion and he starts looking into Meg’s disappearance. Meg is in the cult so naturally he starts looking into that whole mess. He enlists the help of his brother Felix and stuff gets real. Now here are my issues with this novel. The female characters were really just there as props for the big strong men. They even went by juvenile names. A brilliant, tough, and super successful lawyer just happens to go by the name Cherry and the freelance writer that just happens to want to write a book about the cult joins the team and she’s sexy and all the men just want to tell her all their secrets goes by Scrappy, when her actual name is Amelia Moon…uh sure. Even when they do something awesome it felt really flat. I won’t tell you what happened to Meg but even the reasoning behind her disappearance was some sexist nonsense. Though I will say how it came together for Charlie was pretty good. Oh and some crazy idiot had a chimpanzee on a chain that he used for muscle and it made me want to punch someone in the throat. There was adventure, suspense, and some violence and all in all it was an entertaining read. The cult and the glimpse of how it can all go wrong really made the novel. Oh and the language in this novel is very crude, which doesn’t bother me but it can be a downer for some. Honestly, Joe R. Landsdale really made it feel like West Texas, in all its glory and all its faults.
I did not realize when I downloaded this book that Joe R Lansdale is the same author of the Hap and Leonard books. I love his writing style and the Donut Legion is classic. Who else could turn a kooky, small town cult into edge-of-your-seat entertainment? I will definitely be searching out more Lansdale asap.
Pocked heavily with the dark Lansdale sense of humor, this is a satirical social statement regarding a fringe cult.
Charlie is an unsuccessful writer/former police officer while his brother Felix is a former psychologist now private investigator. Felix’s circle includes Cherry, an attorney. Charlie’s new squeeze is Amelia—better known as Scrappy. She’s a former dental hygienist who got very tired of dirty mouths and now wants to write a book regarding the “Saucer People,” a local cult being groomed to survive an impending invasion of aliens.
The depth with which the cult has pervaded the town and its people is revealed with the groups’ investigation, cynical Police Chief Nelson one of the few not involved. He has a dog named Tag who is quickly among the characters you come to love. The storyline takes a serious turn as their snitch is found murdered and Charlie comes to believe his ex and her new hubby are victims as well.
To say the plot turns deadly is not an over-statement—nor a spoiler. You’ll read it soon enough, which btw, (trigger alerts) is rife with crude language, violent description, and sexual innuendo.
A biting scrutiny of a cult compound whose leaders can hold an often deadly stranglehold on its followers. Written in the storytellers’ unusual snarky and biting writing style, this narrative may engage and entertain as many readers as it turns off.
Joe R. Lansdale may not have the name recognition of other major mystery/thriller authors, but his works are solid examples of hard boiled mysteries. This is not a Hap and Leonard tale, but two characters who are brother-Charlie and Felix. Charlie assumes the role of Hap and Felix is patterned after Leonard. But not exactly. Charlie feels something is seriously wrong about his ex-wife who has disappeared. He enlists the help of Felix, a lawyer not shy about using violence to get his way. What lingers in the background is a cult that believes spaceships will descent to Earth and take the chosen people away and they are willing to kill in order to protect their secrets. Great dialog and a crackerjack climatic scene!