Cold In July

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Pub Date Jul 10 2018 | Archive Date Jun 12 2018

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A shocking crime thriller to chill the even the warmest summer's night, this gritty Texan thriller inspired the major motion picture Cold in July, featuring Michael C. Hall (Dexter) Sam Shepard (Black Hawk Down), and Don Johnson (Miami Vice).

Richard Dane has killed a man. Everyone in the small town of LaBorde, Texas knows Dane acted in self-defense — everyone except Ben Russel, the father of the criminal who invaded Dane's home.

When Russel comes looking for revenge against Dane's family, the two fathers are unexpectedly drawn into a conspiracy that conceals the vilest of crimes. Surrounded by police corruption, mafia deception, and underworld brutality, Dane, Russel, and eccentric PI Jim Bob Luke have discovered a game they may not survive.

A shocking crime thriller to chill the even the warmest summer's night, this gritty Texan thriller inspired the major motion picture Cold in July, featuring Michael C. Hall (Dexter) Sam Shepard (...

A Note From the Publisher

About the Author: Joe R. Lansdale is the author of more than thirty novels, including the Edgar Award–winning Hap and Leonard mystery series (Mucho Mojo, Two Bear Mambo) and the New York Times Notable Book The Bottoms. More than two hundred of his stories have appeared in such outlets as Tales From the Crypt and Pulphouse, and his work has been adapted for The Twilight Zone and Masters of Horror. Lansdale has written several graphic novels, including Fantastic Four. He is a tenth-degree black belt and the founder of the Shen Chuan martial art.

Jim Mickle (Foreword) is the director of Cold in July, as well as of critically acclaimed films including Mulberry Street and Stake Land. His film We Are What We Are was screened at the 2013 Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals.

About the Author: Joe R. Lansdale is the author of more than thirty novels, including the Edgar Award–winning Hap and Leonard mystery series (Mucho Mojo, Two Bear Mambo) and the New York Times...

Advance Praise

Praise for Cold in July

“This book is a rare treat for fans of crime and noir fiction with a dark side and is a testament to just how good of a writer Lansdale is.”

“Impressive Realism-meets-Road House-circa ’89 fight-scenes, tailings, and gunfights. . . . You’re sure to finish this book fast, but you’re also sure to think on it slowly.”
—Lit Reactor

“One of the benefits of Cold in July being made into an independent movie (adapted by screenwriter/actor Nick Damici and directed by Jim Mickle) is this new, movie tie-in edition from Tachyon, Joe R. Landsdale’s publisher . . . a finely told crime story.”

“A crime fiction classic.”
—The Novel Pursuit

“It’s a major novel, full of darkness, humor, passion, and truth.”
-Lewis Shiner, author of Glimpses and Mozart in Mirroshades (with Bruce Sterling)

“I can’t think of a more remarkable suspense novel in the last few years. Cold in July has it all….”
-Ed Gorman, author of The Poker Club

Cold in July is more than a novel of detection; it is an odyssey into the dark recesses of the human psyche….”
-Loren D. Estleman, author of Burning Midnight

“Told by a master writer . . . a great novel.”
—Murder by the Book

“Lansdale has a dark sense of humor and a brilliant ability to translate physical tension onto the page. In this novel, originally published in 1989 (and a film by the time you read this), he blends crime, southern gothic, and his own brand of East Texas noir. Don’t miss it.”
—Bookshelf Bombshells

“A character-driven thriller with more twists than an off-the-map dirt road, awards-quality performances from the three leads, a rare sensitivity to the after-effects of horror and a sure directorial hand.”

“This is crime fiction/pulp fiction at its best. It is dark, it is dangerous, it is wickedly humorous. . . .”
—Looking for a Good Book

“Read the book as soon as you can get your hands on a copy.”
Everything Noir

Praise for Cold in July

“This book is a rare treat for fans of crime and noir fiction with a dark side and is a testament to just how good of a writer Lansdale is.”


Available Editions

ISBN 9781616963101
PRICE $9.99 (USD)

Average rating from 12 members

Featured Reviews

Metamorphosis is a term used to describe the process whereby a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. It is also a term for what Lansdale does with Cold in July, a novel that starts out in a suburban father's worst nightmare. Woken in the dead of night by an intruder, he shoots the intruder right through the eye. Shock and guilt give way to fear as the burglar's father vows revenge upon being released from prison. Then the story flips as Rick busts the ex-con father out of jail, and they join forces with a crazy Texas private eye, eventually turning into an action packed men's adventure tale. Along the way, Lansdale touches on many themes such as how safe are we really against the real predators, and what kind of secrets is the government hiding. And, what makes us who we are? Is it our actions in those brief moments of madness or how we go about our daily lives? And, then there's that desperate longing for adventure that lies buried within us. I've never read much Lansdale before, but he makes this crazy story work with the keen thoughtful narrator's voice.

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Cold in July by Joe R. Lansdale- A revenge thriller with a twist, as usual with Joe R. Lansdale. Richard Dane kills a man, who has entered his house uninvited and with criminal intent. The cops come, and that should be the end of it. But the patriarch of the dead man's family, a man with a criminal history as well, doesn't think so. He decides to go after Dane and everything he holds dear. Of course, it is never as simple as that. These two men begin to move towards confrontation when something unexpected happens. Lansdale rips the veneer off this locale, exposing the dirt and the corruption everywhere. No fun and games like Hap and Leonard here, but a good solid read none the less.

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It's July, but it's anything but cold here in New England. In fact, we're smack in the middle of a nasty heat wave, so it was a great time to park myself by the pool and read. COLD IN JULY was perfect for the occasion.

Hearing a noise during the night and grabbing his gun to go investigate, Richard Dane ends up killing an intruder in his living room. Understandably he's rattled and feeling a bit guilty. As such, he decides to attend the funeral of his victim and winds up meeting the dead man's father, Ben Russell. Russell is upset and seeking revenge. If this were any other author, the reader would be safe in assuming that the rest of the tale was going to be about Russel and Richard coming to terms. But we're talking Joe Lansdale here, and this story turns in a completely different direction.What happens next? You'll have to read this to find out!

I loved the characters in this book, most especially Jim Bob, a redneck expert in the martial arts, who drives a cherry red boat of a Cadillac, and is a private investigator. His down-home sayings were hilarious and it provided that twisted humor Lansdale is known for. I also loved how the story changed throughout and how the characters developed.

I'm not sure why this book was available through NetGalley at this time, since it originally came out in 1989, but I hopped on the chance to read it for free. There is also a film of it, starring Don Johnson as Jim Bob, and I believe that is something I MUST see.

COLD IN JULY is a fast paced crime novel, with humor and horror mixed in as well as a well developed sense of honor. Set in LaBorde, a place Hap and Leonard fans will recognize, this is a Texas story, told by a Texan in the most entertaining way possible. I highly recommend it!

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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First published in 1989; movie tie-in published by Tachyon in 2014; published digitally by Particle Books on July 10, 2018

Joe Lansdale often writes novels and stories that are funny and playful, even if the comedy is dark. When Lansdale decides to write a dark novel that isn’t meant as a comedy, few writers are better at pushing the reader’s buttons of dread. I admire Lansdale’s versatility, but I like him best when he shakes my ability to face the hidden horrors of humanity. At the same time, there are few writers who are more humane than Lansdale, who are better able to look into the frigid darkness and find an ember of hope that deserves to be nurtured.

Richard Dane kills a burglar, quite legitimately, in self-defense. The encounter triggers thoughts of mortality, his and his son’s, who might easily have been shot by the burglar if he had wandered into the living room.

Dane lives in a small Texas town. Local jerks congratulate him for “getting one.” The decent people appreciate that he is going through a rough time because killing, in self-defense or otherwise, should never be a source of pride.

Dane feels compelled to attend the burglar’s burial, despite being warned by the police that the burglar’s father had just been released from prison and might be in the mood for vengeance. The father, Russel, makes a not-so-veiled threat against Dane’s own four-year-old son. The story’s tension builds from that point, as Richard puts bars on his windows and begins to realize that the facts are not what they appeared to be and that threats may be approaching him from unexpected directions.

A colorful and profane private detective named Jim Bob Luke enters the mix, hired by Dane to get to the bottom of an apparent conspiracy, but true to the novel’s tone, a vague sense of menace surrounds the man. Eventually Jim Bob and Russel and Dane chase a mystery, only to make a horrifying discovery.

Cold in July is the kind of story that confronts relatively good people with hard moral choices. The story eventually gives Dane the opportunity to act as a vigilante in what seems to him (and possibly the reader) to be a just cause. Typical vigilante fiction features a resolute and self-righteous protagonist with military training and lots of guns who makes the world a better place by cleaning up the polluting people he defines as scum. Dane is just an ordinary guy. He doesn’t see himself killing anyone. Whether he will or won’t take on the vigilante role and what effect that choice will have on him is the question than builds suspense in the novel’s second half. Readers can debate whether Dane makes the right choice, which is part of the reason to read a book like Cold in July. Lansdale makes clear that there really is no choice that can clearly be viewed as morally correct. Whatever Dane does will lead to harm, and any choice he makes will leave a permanent scar on his soul.

Lansdale always tells a good story and he doesn’t waste words doing it. His characters are as real as they need to be. Readers understand a character's essential characteristics without wading through every detail of their formative years. Lansdale avoids making the villains stereotypes by largely ignoring them. We know what they did, but we don’t know them as people. Nor do we need to know them. The focus instead is on the good guys, who are flawed but far from evil, making it easy for the reader to hope for the best when the shooting starts.

Cold in July builds suspense until the story reaches its bloody climax. It isn’t possible to close one’s eyes when reading a book, but readers might find themselves holding their breath. I don’t know if the movie adaptation is any good (Roger Ebert didn’t think so), but Cold in July played as a thumbs up movie in my mind.


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I really enjoyed this book tremendously. Outstanding read all around. Thanks to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for the arc of this book in return for my honest review. Receiving the book in this manner had no bearing on this review.

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