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 This launches The Lost Lansdale, Subterranean's issue of older, unpublished work from the much-admired noir crime writer (Bad Chili, Freezer Burn, etc.).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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
Maybe it’s not in the upper echelon of Joe Lansdale’s work—it’s certainly not Cold in July or Sunset and Sawdust-- but it can still stand proudly alongside The Nightrunners, Rumble Tumble, and Vanilla Ride. It is fun pulp with a message about the importance of family and society’s obligation to protect women and children from predators.
The novel was originally written around 1990, but Lansdale hated it and never sought a publisher. In the late 1990’s, he reluctantly agreed to trim it down to half its original length and allow Subterranean Press to publish it as part of a limited-edition hardback imprint series called Lost Lansdale. He thought the story needed an entire rewrite to make it work properly, but the spirit of this series was to deliver “unpolished” works that for whatever reason had never found an audience.
Longtime fans may experience some déjà vu. Lansdale borrowed certain elements of this book over the years, because he never expected it to be reprinted or become widely available, The bottle tree and the child pornographer/serial killer were reused in Mucho Mojo. The Disaster Club was reworked and re-imagined for Leather Maiden.
I am glad this book is now available as an e-book, although I miss the original cover art by Mark Nelson. When I was reading the hardback, one person actually came up to me on the beach to tell me it was the most ominous book cover they’d ever seen.
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.