The Thicket

Written by Joe R. Lansdale
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

Upon the death of his parents from smallpox, Jack Parker begins a trek through East Texas along with his younger sister, Lula, and their grandfather to seek refuge with an estranged aunt. When crossing a river on a ferry, outlaws kill Jack’s grandfather and kidnap his sister. Saddened by this misfortune, Jack soon begins a quest to rescue his sister by hiring a dwarf and bounty hunter named Shorty; a local gravedigger and ex-slave named Eustace; Jimmie Sue, a local prostitute who Jack grows to love; and even a huge swine named Hog. During the turn-of-the-century East Texas landscape, when cars and telephones are new to the public, Jack and his motley crew attempt to track down the bandits, soon discovering they have gone to the Thicket, a country inhabited by outlaws.

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. The story is humorous, exciting and definitely a fun read. The dialog would make Robert Parker proud if he were alive today. The cast of characters alone makes the novel worthwhile, with the dark humor and page-turning excitement, crisp dialog, and thrilling ending. I found myself laughing to myself as I read the descriptions of the scenes as they played out. I highly recommend this book and will definitely look for other novels written by Joe Lansdale.