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Waltz of Shadows Vol. 1: A Novel of Suspense Hardcover – Jul 1999


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From Publishers Weekly

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 This launches The Lost Lansdale, Subterranean's issue of older, unpublished work from the much-admired noir crime writer (Bad Chili, Freezer Burn, etc.).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.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Amazon.com: 12 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A DARK NOVEL OF INTENSE VIOLENCE!!! Nov. 4 2001
By Wayne C. Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
WALTZ OF SHADOWS by Joe R. Lansdale was first written back during the early nineties in a much longer version for Mysterious Press. Because the author felt he'd missed the mark in the writing of this mainstream novel, he had it pulled from publication and more or less let it sit in a trunk for the next several years. When Subterranean Press expressed an interest in doing a signed, limited edition of it, Mr. Lansdale took the book out of storage and trimmed over two hundred pages off of the manuscript. Though he felt better about the final result, there was still a lot of trepidation with regards to seeing the book published. Why? I have no idea. This is a terrific novel! When I read his introduction to it, I was expecting a clunker with maybe a few shining moments. Instead, I found myself hooked in the first twenty pages and then propelled forward like a human cannon ball being fired from one end of the circus tent to the other. WALTZ OF SHADOWS is the story of Hank Small-a pretty nice guy who owns a video store and has a great wife and two wonderful children-and what happens to him when his young nephew, Billy, calls him for help. It seems that Billy got involved in a yuppie gang of young people who enjoyed perverted sex and courting death for that sharp adrenaline rush. One night when the gang decides to do a home invasion in order to score a little cash, they encounter two men (Fat Boy and Snake) at their intended victim's home who are the personification of death itself. Billy manages to escape, but the rest of the gang is tortured and murdered. Billy knows that he's being hunted by the two psychos and wants his uncle Hank to help him out of this dilemma. Not knowing quite what to do, Hank turns to his half brother, Arnold, who he hasn't talked to in over ten years. Arnold is one tough hombre and has spent a bit of time in prison. Hank realizes that if anyone will know how to handle the two psychopaths, it'll be him. Before the two brothers can even get a game plan rolling, however, Fat Boy and Snake find Billy and do a little good-natured torturing to see who knows about them. From that point on, nobody in the Small family is safe. If Hank wants to keep his wife and children alive, both he and Arnold are going to have to prepare for a bloodbath. WALTZ OF SHADOWS is dark, violent, intense, and utterly suspenseful. Fat Boy and Snake are two of the vilest criminals I've ever read in fiction. They're ruthless and evil in every sense of the word, and totally believable. When they invade Hank's home, humiliating him and raping his wife, the reader is stunned and left speechless by the graphic violence and how realistically it's described. Mr. Lansdale doesn't pull any punches. He sets the ground rules for what's to follow so that the reader will understand Hank and Arnold's need for absolute revenge, and that it's going to be a fight to the death with no mercy shown by either side. All of the characters are avidly drawn, and the prose is pure Lansdale at its best. Except for Andrew Vachss, I don't know of any other author who could've written a novel of such darkness and violence, and still have the protagonists maintain their humanity. This novel is definitely a winner! I hope Mr. Lansdale will eventually allow it to be published in a mass-market paperback format so that thousands of other readers will get to experience this "dark time in the dark woods." HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Great One for Lansdale Collectors May 25 2000
By D. Read - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this novel, and I'm very happy to own the limited edition book. This is part of the "Lost Lansdale" series that Subterranean Press has been doing such an awesome job with. Waltz of Shadows, as Lansdale himself explains, was written in the early 90's, but Joe did not feel it was up to standards and decided not to publish it. Supposedly, this will be the only edition of this book for the forseeable future.
Waltz of Shadows is indeed flawed, and Lansdale was wise to keep it in the trunk. But for an avid Lansdale reader such as myself, the book is very enjoyable anyway. When I say it is flawed, I don't mean in any kind of hopeless way. The writing is tight, and pure Lansdale. There are, however, a few clumsy linchpins in the plot, and a few of the characters are struggling to be something they're not. But anything I noticed was easily forgiven, and I charged right through the book very quickly.
If this is still available, I'd say grab it for your Lansdale collection for sure. But if you're just a casual fan, I'd say stick with the many more modestly priced Lansdale novels that are in print.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"If you can not get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance." - George Bernard Shaw Feb. 11 2013
By Cheryl Stout - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Joe Lansdale is one of my favorite authors of all time. Two of us books - The Bottoms and A Fine Dark Line - are on my Top Ten book list of all time.

I had read some of the reviews of "Waltz of Shadows" and wasn't quite sure what to expect. I shouldn't have worried because Lansdale is THE master storyteller.

He brings his usual mix of good guys, flawed good guys, slimy guys and truly vile human specimens together to waltz to Lansdale's own internal warped 3/4 time music.

I like Hank Small and his family including his half-brother Arnold - his nephew not so much. Fat Boy and Snake are two of his vilest creations.

The storyline, while a bit predictable, still had enough twists, returns, blood and guts to keep me reading late into the night.

Note: there is violence and mayhem, blood and guts, child pornography, and a nasty rape scene in the book. Be forewarned.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Waltz of Shadows March 4 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although a notch below his mature work as he concedes, Lansdale is in fine form here. One might want to read his later work first to be more forgiving about plot and character flaws in early work like this (for example in this book and "Cold in July", his protagonists are broadly drawn without the vivid personality of a Hap or Leonard in that series). Although the villains and their evil deeds are extreme in true Lansdale fashion, he anchors them sufficiently in reality to make them truly menacing, thus separating him from the majority of the thriller pack with their cardboard or unbelievable villains.
Waltz of Grit and Violence! April 4 2015
By aka_Sabretooth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
So I like to read Stpehen Hunter who Garth Ennis also likes to read and I also like to read Garth Ennis and I hear in an Ennis interview that he likes to read Joe Lansdale, so here I go to read Joe Lansdale and I pick this one for starters. Right?

Good thing I did. Except for the nightmare I had after reading in bed and nonstop the first half of the book, and admittedly it wasnt a great idea to fall asleep riding the adrenaline rush I got from reading this, it is a thrilling and creeping read I had been longing for quite some time. Characters are... unforgettable. The writing is sharp -ok, excellent. The whole thing is memorable. And the story and the plot are... oh well, go suit yourself. Or maybe I should say, go creep yourself. Buy let me warn you: the creepiness here is not supernatural at all, it is just and mostly your worst mundane first class creepiness, tied around the characters in a violent plot that seems to lead to more mundane creepiness

I am not sure if this is the best thing Lansdale wrote, but I wonder if he can outmatch it. If I don't read anything else from the man for sure I will be talking and recommending this on ein the years to come. As an addendum, after I finished this one I got myself a load of used Lansdale paperbacks and I have already finished Leather Maiden and Dead in the West. And in those two he does not surpass this one. But I am not following the recommendations from other readers.

And I know I am not helping new potential readers a lot, but if you have a strong stomach that can take a nasty, crazy, violent, and satisfying read, then please suit yourself. I am not sure the word "thriller" is enough for this one.

Oh, and the nightmare I had the night I started reading Lansdale had nothing to do with the plot of the book. It was about me and my dad trying to deal with my uncle's corpse.

There you go Bubba, dont read Lansdale and fall immediately asleep. Get yourself some fresh air first.


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