Cold in July

Cold in July

4.4 11
by Joe R. Lansdale

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From the Edgar Award-winning author of the Hap and Leonard mysteries comes a shocking crime thriller to chill the even the warmest summer's night. By turns vivid, raw, and darkly comedic, this mystery classic inspired the 2014 major motion picture Cold in July, starring Michael C. Hall (Dexter) Sam Shepard (Black Hawk Down), and Don Johnson (

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From the Edgar Award-winning author of the Hap and Leonard mysteries comes a shocking crime thriller to chill the even the warmest summer's night. By turns vivid, raw, and darkly comedic, this mystery classic inspired the 2014 major motion picture Cold in July, starring Michael C. Hall (Dexter) Sam Shepard (Black Hawk Down), and Don Johnson (Miami Vice).

Richard Dane has killed a man. He cannot unhear the firing of the gun or unsee the blood on his living room wall. But everybody in the small town of LaBorde, Texas knows Dane acted in self defense. Everybody except Ben Russel, the ex-con father of the small-time criminal who invaded Dane's home.

When Russel comes looking for revenge against Dane's family, the two 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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.”

“...a crime fiction classic.”
The Novel Pursuit

“...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.”

"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

“[R]ead the book as soon as you can get your hands on a copy.”
Everything Noir

Praise for Joe R. Lansdale

“A folklorist’s eye for telling detail and a front-porch raconteur’s sense of pace.”
-New York Times Book Review

“A terrifically gifted storyteller.”
-Washington Post Book Review

“Like gold standard writers Elmore Leonard and the late Donald Westlake, Joe R. Lansdale is one of the more versatile writers in America.
Los Angeles Times

“A zest for storytelling and gimlet eye for detail.”
Entertainment Weekly

"Lansdale is an immense talent."

“Lansdale is a storyteller in the Texas tradition of outrageousness...but amped up to about 100,000 watts.”
Houston Chronicle

“Lansdale’s been hailed, at varying points in his career, as the new Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner-gone-madder, and the last surviving splatterpunk...sanctified in the blood of the walking Western dead and righteously readable.”
Austin Chronicle

Unknown - Ed Gorman
I can't think of a more remarkable suspense novel in the past few years. Cold in July has it all—a story you haven't read before, characters who linger in the mind, and surprise piled on surprise. This is the kind of book other writers talk about—enviously.
Unknown - Loren D. Estleman
Cold in July is more than a novel of detection; it is an odyssey into the dark recesses of the human psyche, and those who follow it cannot come away unchanged.
Unknown - Lewis Shiner
Reading Cold in July is like riding a rocket. As you roar off into Lansdale's disturbing vision of the world, it bucks and turns under you, constantly swerving in unexpected directions. And you'd better not plan on doing anything else until the ride is over.

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Product Details

Tachyon Publications
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 15

That night Jordan went back to bed with us and I lay there thinking about Russel. After all that had happened, the thing that kept coming back to me was that he had hands like my father and he had had them around my neck. It was like my old man had come back from the grave to choke me for something I had done. I could never quite get it out of my mind—in spite of what I knew about my mother—that I had been in some way responsible for him eating the barrel of his Winchester.

I eventually gave up trying to sleep and went into the kitchen and put some strong coffee on. While that was brewing I went into Jordan’s room and turned on the light and looked around. The Little Sprout lamp, which had been beside his bed on the nightstand before Ann used it to hit Russel, lay on the floor where she had dropped it when the cops came in. There was a mark in the headboard of the bed where Russel had thrown the knife, but other than that, everything looked normal.

I walked around the room touching toys and books, assuring myself that things were as they had been and that they would coast along properly from here on out. It was a lie I very much wanted to believe.

I put the lamp where it belonged and sat down on Jordan’s bed, and while I was sitting there, I saw something dark sticking out from beneath Jordan’s battered toy box. Getting down on my hands and knees, I pulled it out and saw that it was a wallet. Without opening it, I knew it was Russel’s and that it had slid under there during the fight.

The thing to do was to give it to the cops, but I couldn’t resist a peek inside first. The first thing I saw was a photograph encased in one of those plastic windows. Russel was a young man in the picture and he looked handsome, strong and happy. He was down on his knee and he had his arm around a little blond-haired boy holding a BB gun. The boy looked about Jordan’s age. On the back of the photograph was written: Freddy and Dad.

There was a photograph behind that one, and it was of a young man in his early twenties. He was blond, blue-eyed, and handsome, if slightly thick in the chin. On the back of the photograph in the same handwriting was Freddy.
I thought about Freddy the night I shot him, and tried to match his face with this one. The burglar had had brown hair sticking out from beneath his cap and the eye that wasn’t a wound had been brown. His chin had been narrow, and never in his life had he been handsome or even passably attractive.

If this was a photograph of Freddy Russel, then the man I shot wasn’t him.

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Cold in July 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
drakevaughn More than 1 year ago
This fun crime novel by Lansdale grips like a vice from the very opening chapter and never lets go. Richard, the owner of a small framing store, shoots a home invader in self-defense, but the burglar’s father is hell bent on revenge. Richard likewise discovers the police are lying about the burglar’s identity, spinning the tale into a far greater conspiracy. Lansdale’s pulpy wit and fast action keeps the story on track and never lets up until the bloody end. A must-read for Lansdale fans.        
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shocking, scary and sad. Has a lot going on, and entertaining characters, good and bad.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cold in July leaves you on the edge of your seat. This book is filled with non-stop action from the begining to end. The characters couldn't be any more to life. Cold in July will leave you guessing all the way to the end. One of the best by Joe R. Lansdale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a Hollywood type crime novel. Lansdale does'nt pull any punches. As good a book as you'll ever read in the genre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My new favorite author. Thank goodness Barnes and Noble had this book because Joe Lansdale's books are hard to find. I love his style, his characters. Lansdale says this was his favorite book  to write  so you know you are in for a treat especially if you like  edge of your seat thrillers with believable characters in ordinary settings endeavoring to survive the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.           
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Guest More than 1 year ago
COLD IN JULY by Joe R. Lansdale is one of the author¿s earlier novels. The book was first published in 1989, and is just as fast paced, thought provoking, and violent as his newer ones. This is the story of Richard Dane, a nice man with a beautiful wife, Ann, a lovely little boy named Jordan, and is the owner of a framing shop in LaBorde, Texas. Late one night in their home, a strange noise wakes Ann. She elbows Richard awake, and it isn¿t long before he realizes that a burglar has broken into their house. He grabs a .38 snub-nose revolver from the closet and goes out into the living room to investigate. When he surprises the burglar, the man takes a shot at him and misses. Richard returns fire and kills the intruder. Later, the police tell him that the burglar¿s name was Freddy Russel. Unfortunately for Richard, the dead man¿s father, Ben Russel, has just gotten out of prison after serving a twenty-year term. When Ben learns of his son¿s death, he swears revenge against Richard and his family, promising to kill little Jordan Dane. What neither Ben, nor Richard, comprehend until later, is that both of them have unintentionally been set up by the local police. There¿s something going on behind the scenes, and it has to do with Freddy Russel¿s death, along with a cover up that¿s tied into the FBI. Both men quickly realize that they¿re going to need some outside help, if they want to solve the mystery. Russel¿s old friend, Jim Bob Luke (BAD CHILI and CAPTAINS OUTRAGEOUS) who¿s an ex-Green Beret, a master of the Korean martial art Hapkido, and is now a private eye in Houston, is called in to help find the answers. It isn¿t long before all three of them begin to understand that the answers they¿re seeking are going to have a high price. The answers will involve both a ring of people that make snuff movies and death on a massive scale. Before the novel is over, Richard, Ben, and Jim Bob will have to take the law into their own hands, charging in with guns blazing, killing the scum that torture, rape, and murder innocent women for fun and profit. COLD IN JULY, as Mr. Lansdale might say, is true East Texas noir. Filled with plot twists that keep the reader constantly on his/her toes, the journey from beginning to end is one of adventure, edge-of-your suspense, intense violence, down-to-earth humor, and an array of memorable characters that stay with you long after the story is finished. In many ways Jim Bob Luke steals the entire show. He¿s egotistical, over-confident, fearless, the best at what he does, funny in a redneck sort of way, and as deadly and fast as a striking cobra. Jim Bob certainly needs to have a novel of his own! One thing that I¿ve notice after reading several of Mr. Lansdale¿s novels is that he writes extremely strong female characters. Ann Dane is not only beautiful and highly intelligent, she¿s almost as tough in her own way as Jim Bob Luke is. She¿s not afraid to get down and dirty and to do what¿s necessary to protect her family. The villains (Freddy Russel and the Mex) are also exceedingly well drawn and are definitely characters you wouldn¿t want to meet in real life. What I¿ve found with the novels by Joe R. Lansdale is that they¿re never boring. The author knows how to tell a great yarn that¿s utterly believable, and he can pen a tale in any genre of his choosing. As I¿ve said before, this East Texas author is a master craftsman at the art of writing. Anything by him is highly recommended. Finding this amazing storyteller is perhaps the best thing that¿s happened to me this year, and I sincerely hope more readers will eventually become aware of him and his works of fiction.