&KINDLE ↾ The Bottoms ☞ Ebook or Kindle ePUB free

Set in the 1930 s this book is told from the viewpoint of an elderly man looking back at a time in his life Harry grew up in East Texas along the Sabine River area An area whereis picked up at the local store than groceries Harry and his sister Tom find the body of a black woman who had been mutilated and tied up with barbed wire His father Jacob is the constable barber farmer in the town and he takes the body to the black section to have a black doctor have a look to see what happ Set in the 1930 s this book is told from the viewpoint of an elderly man looking back at a time in his life Harry grew up in East Texas along the Sabine River area An area whereis picked up at the local store than groceries Harry and his sister Tom find the body of a black woman who had been mutilated and tied up with barbed wire His father Jacob is the constable barber farmer in the town and he takes the body to the black section to have a black doctor have a look to see what happened This unleashes racial tension in the area because the black people don t want trouble stirred up and some of the white people don t care if a black woman is dead Thenbodies start turning up Lansdale brings this to life much better than my piddly review but I wanted to just get the basics across Harry was that curious boy who believed and had seen the legendary Goat Man following he and his sister in those woods His dad Jacob reminded me of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird He stood up for what he thought was right no matter what There is a lynching scene in the book that I had nightmares about after reading this last night trigger warning for some of you Then there is Grandma I want to be her when I grow up I love and miss Grandpa, but I m glad he s dead Don t say that Mama said Was he in a lot of pain Daddy asked No No Thank goodness for that But he took to singin gospel songs He d just burst out in one from time to time, and he couldn t carry a tune in a syrup bucket with a lid on it It was miserable And you couldn t shut him up I figured it was time for him to go just so I wouldn t have to listen to that I ever start talkin to myself, or heaven forbid sing a goddamn gospel song This book as a mystery novel would have scored a 2 star from me, but it sthan that because if you spin me a tale involving a coming of age story and throw in some folk lore and you have me entranced This is what Joe Lansdale does with this book Just a short time before I had been a happy kid with no worries I didn t even know it was the Depression, let alone there were murderers outside the magazines I read down at the barbershop, and none of the magazines I read had to do with this kind of thing The Bottoms by Joe R Lansdale The Bottoms by Joe Lansdale is a rousing atmospheric murder mystery with an abundance and it has to said,than its fair share of tension and thought provoking issue The Bottoms won the Edgar award in 2000 and is definitely a book that will stay resolutely in your thoughts long after you ve finished The story is an unforgiving coming of age tale for eleven year old Harry Crane set in the 1930 s who along with his younger sister discover the tortured body of a The Bottoms by Joe R Lansdale The Bottoms by Joe Lansdale is a rousing atmospheric murder mystery with an abundance and it has to said,than its fair share of tension and thought provoking issue The Bottoms won the Edgar award in 2000 and is definitely a book that will stay resolutely in your thoughts long after you ve finished The story is an unforgiving coming of age tale for eleven year old Harry Crane set in the 1930 s who along with his younger sister discover the tortured body of a dead woman in the Bottoms of small East Texas town, Marvel Creek In that moment, something else changed for me I realized that a person could truly die Daddy and Mama could die I could die We would all someday die Something went hollow inside me, shifted, found a place to lie down and be still, if not entirely in comfort Harry s father is the town constable and he begins an investigation that delves deeply into the racial divide prevalent in the era, nearly breaking him in the process Caught smack bang in the middle are the two children who insert themselves into the forefront of proceedings as the murders increase and the town seek justice The characters virtually leap from the page and sit snugly on your shoulder whispering their intent, leaving an impression of the story permanently etched in your mind Eliciting disbelief at attitudes, questioning morality and leaving you firmly rooting for a family that face exorbitant trials and tribulations There s even some of the Lansdale humour littered sparingly within, some anxious store bought teeth Once in a while be wore store bought teeth, but they clicked and clacked and slid around when he talked, as if they might have some place to go and were anxious to get there The Bottoms is a delightful story that brings back fond memories of classic stories such as To Kill a Mocking and McCammons Boy s Life while still remaining unique and quite gripping in its own way The characterization and the feelings inspired by this story are simply breathtaking at times, perfectly highlighting how times have changed I did guess the killers identity from the various suspects tossed into the mix but it didn t detract from a wonderful story that deserves to be appreciated by all Find all of my reviews atOnly the past seems to matter now only it seems to be alive only it can support my soulI finally got around to reading this over the weekend and have been debating ever since about how to write a review This is one of those books that if too much is given away, then everything might as well be given away It also has a blurb that is about 112 pages long so go read that if you want way too much information As for me I m goin Find all of my reviews atOnly the past seems to matter now only it seems to be alive only it can support my soulI finally got around to reading this over the weekend and have been debating ever since about how to write a review This is one of those books that if too much is given away, then everything might as well be given away It also has a blurb that is about 112 pages long so go read that if you want way too much information As for me I m going to let the book do most of the talking This is the story of Harry Collins a man who is near the end of his life and is recalling a monumental time when he was just a boy I ve got the memories of then, nearly seventy years ago, and they are as fresh as the moment It all happened, as I recall, in the years nineteen thirty three and thirty fourThis was a time when Harry and his family lived in East Texas, specifically near the Sabine River bottoms The bottoms themselves were beautiful The trees lush, the leaves heavy with rain, the blackberry vines twisting and tangling, sheltering rabbits and snakes Even the poison ivy winding around the oak trees seemed beautiful and green and almost something you wanted to touch But like the poison ivy, looks could be deceptive Under all the beauty, the bottoms held dark thingsThe dark thing Harry and his sister Tom asina had always been afraid of was someone known as the Goat Man, but when Harry was 11 years old he discovered the true evils of the world in the form of murdered women and the reality of what kind of person would automatically be suspected of such heinous crimes My people, they like chaff, boy They blow away in the breeze and ain t no one caresThe book also delves into the battle of conscience Harry s father, the constable, had to face throughout the process It s like I ve opened this box and I don t know how to close itFor months now friends have been trying to get me to read Lansdale I finally caved and my first selection was a classic B Horror Movie type of story with The Drive In I was convinced to read this one next when a certain monkey wielding book fairy forced it down my throat I can t express how happy I am that she did so I ve been terrified to read Harper Lee s new release and decided to stand firm and maintain my memory of the original which has kept its place as one of my favorites of all time Color me shocked when I discovered that the author who is famous for the antics of Hap and Leonard would also be the person to write a coming of age story that was so reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird If you were a fan of Scout and Jem or found Atticus to be as close to a superhero as you would probably ever meet in real life, I can t recommend The Bottoms enough This was a real thinker about how little some things have changed, it s written so well you ll think you are in Texas during the Great Depression and it is guaranteed to make you feel allllllll of the feels Don t trust me Check out my friend Paul s review instead cause he wrote a good un Once again I find myself sitting here scratching my head wondering how in the world can this be the first time I have read Joe R Lansdale In truth I think I may have come across a short story or two in one anthology or another, but this is my first novel It will not be my last.The story unfolds on a farm, set deep in the woods by the Sabine River in East Texas during the depression era of the 1930 s Our narrator is Harry Collins, an eleven year old boy who lives on the farm with his pare Once again I find myself sitting here scratching my head wondering how in the world can this be the first time I have read Joe R Lansdale In truth I think I may have come across a short story or two in one anthology or another, but this is my first novel It will not be my last.The story unfolds on a farm, set deep in the woods by the Sabine River in East Texas during the depression era of the 1930 s Our narrator is Harry Collins, an eleven year old boy who lives on the farm with his parents, younger sister Tom short for Thomasina and his trusty dog Toby They also have a mule, Sally Redback for ploughing and such Harry s father farms his land, owns a barber shop where he cuts hair and is the local constable Wearing so many hats was not uncommon in those days and went a long way in helping to make ends meet One day while out in the woods with his younger sister, Harry and Tom stumble upon the corpse of a naked, coloured woman She had been badly cut upon and was all bloated and tied up in barbed wire.While Harry and his sister are making their way back home in the dark, after having made their grisly discovery, they have the chilling sense that they are being watched and followed Lansdale describes this and the Bottom land of the Sabine River country so effectively it is as though you are actually there, on high alert with these kids as they swallow their fear and navigate through brambles and bushes enroute to the swinging bridge that will take them across the Sabine River and to a safe route home The bridge was some cables strung across the Sabine from high spots on the banks Some long board slats were fastened to the cables by rusty metal clamps and rotting ropes I didn t know who built it or how old it was Maybe it had been a pretty good bridge once Now a lot of slats were missing and others were rotten and cracked and the cables were fastened to the high banks on either side by rusty metal bars buried deep in the ground In places, where the water had washed the bank, you could see part of the bars showing through the dirt Enough time and water, the whole bridge would fall into the river.When the wind blew, the bridge swung The boards creaked and ached as if in pain Little bits of rotten wood came loose and fell into the river below Down there was a deep spot and the water ran fast, crashed up against some rocks, fell over a little falls, and into the wide, deep, churning water Lansdale is a gifted storyteller The Bottoms reads as though Harry were right there in the room with you recounting those days More bodies of unfortunate women will be discovered in the days and weeks to come and they will not all be women of colour Harry s Dad, Jacob, being the local constable takes steps to learnabout this first woman He cannot count on the white doctor in town to give him an unbiased appraisal of how she met her death or for that matter even care much about such things Frustrated Jacob seeks the counsel of a coloured doctor that lives and practices within a settlement of mostly coloured folk not far from his own community This does not set well with the white people of his community or the local members of the Klan Primarily The Bottoms is considered a mystery but where it really shines is as a coming of age story Given the racial divide and the role Harry s father played I was reminded often of Harper Lee s classic as well as McCammon s Boy s Life As you approach the end of this book Lansdale pumps up the volume and infuses every word with nail biting tension I could not take it in fast enough, my eyes, independent of will, were racing ahead chasing down each sentence, leaving no time to digest, imploring my fingers to come on already, turn the page and let them loose At some point I suddenly gasped for air, unaware that the whole time, I had been holding my breath Whew And Woot Highly recommended You really will not want to miss this one The works of Joe R Lansdale have been recommended to me so much in the last 3 4 years I have a strong affinity for coming of age tales so I was told very convincingly by several people that THE BOTTOMS was a must read Thanks to Steve and Chad I buddy read this with my friend Tracy and I m not exaggerating when I say we devoured this book I started Thursday night, Tracy on Friday afternoon and here we are on Sunday morning fangirling over Lansdale.I am in utter and complete awe of his story The works of Joe R Lansdale have been recommended to me so much in the last 3 4 years I have a strong affinity for coming of age tales so I was told very convincingly by several people that THE BOTTOMS was a must read Thanks to Steve and Chad I buddy read this with my friend Tracy and I m not exaggerating when I say we devoured this book I started Thursday night, Tracy on Friday afternoon and here we are on Sunday morning fangirling over Lansdale.I am in utter and complete awe of his storytelling ability THE BOTTOMS takes place in East Texas, just after the devastating effect of the Depression in the 1930s This was a difficult time for all Americans but nobody felt the effects harder than African Americans especially in the deep South KKK led lynchings and beatings were rampant.Our story zeros in on a family living by a river an area known as THE BOTTOMS The father, Jacob I love this man is the local constable He s married to a strong, beautiful woman and they have two children, Harry who is like 12 or 13 and Tom Thomasina who is just a bit younger The narrator is Harry and he s telling a tale in flashback from a nursing home I love Harry so much I could cry right now trying to explain how special he is Lansdale wrote the most endearing and beautiful relationship between a father and son It was so refreshing I have read a lot of books lately where the father figure is an old, abusive, hypocritical drunk so it was such a sweet reading experience to hear Harry talk about his dad like the hero he was In a time when segregation and racial prejudice is at an apex, Jacob Henry s father teaches his family to treat people fairly and he doesn t do this in a self righteous preachy way, but he leads by example This really reminded me of what I loved about TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD So if you enjoyed that book, you d love this one trust me.Lansdale paints small town life with exquisite and intimate details The townies are bright and colorful I especially loved Miss Maggie and the way she tells stories to young Harry But this isn t a feel good story of good triumphing over evil all the time this town is saturated in hate for African Americans and to add fuel to the flames, there s someone out there murdering prostitutes Our sweet kiddos, Tom and Harry stumble upon one of the first bodies and so dad, Jacob takes up an investigation To tell you any would risk accidentally exposing some exciting discoveries so the rest of this review is just me urging everyone to read this book Seriously It s everything you would ever want Page turning action, rich storytelling, dimensional characters you immediately fall in love with Mose Miss Maggie Tom Jacob The dog, Toby Grandma and a murder mystery that getsandintense as the story goes on This book makes you wince, laugh, cry, scream out in agony, surprise, anger, shock, and then reading the last bit, you cling to every word sad that it s over I m so sad it s over I will be reading this again and it will forever make every list I make of favorite coming of age stories, best of lists and all time favorites I m a sold out Lansdale fan now GIVE ME MORE This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here The Bottoms Joe R Lansdale s Edgar Award Winning Mystery The Bottoms by Joe R Lansdale was chosen as a group read for February, 2016, by members of On the Southern Literary Trail Special thanks to Jane for nominating this novel Joe R LansdaleJust a few weeks ago my neighbor handed me a copy of By Bizarre Hands, the first anthology of short stories by Joe R Lansdale My neighbor is a professor of literature I take his recommendations seriously It was my first exposure to Landsdale The Bottoms Joe R Lansdale s Edgar Award Winning Mystery The Bottoms by Joe R Lansdale was chosen as a group read for February, 2016, by members of On the Southern Literary Trail Special thanks to Jane for nominating this novel Joe R LansdaleJust a few weeks ago my neighbor handed me a copy of By Bizarre Hands, the first anthology of short stories by Joe R Lansdale My neighbor is a professor of literature I take his recommendations seriously It was my first exposure to Landsdale I was impressed.I finished the anthology a few days before travelling to Texas I usually travel with a book set in my destination I chose The Bottoms to take along While some may question my classifying this novel as a work of Southern Literature, Texas is a mighty big State It consists of distinct geographic areas, populated by very diverse people Cross into Texas from Louisiana and you find yourself in East Texas, marked by huge tracts of pines, riversswamps, and the bottoms of the Sabine River.The area is decidedly Southern as opposed to Cowboy country It is the land of The Big Thicket that covers miles of territory which was known as a place in earlier days into which one could go and rarely be found if that was the traveler s intention The Big ThicketLandale s novel is narrated by Harry Collins, now in his nineties, the resident of a nursing home Recognizing his mortality, he tells the tale of life with his family in the Great Depression of the 1930s.Thirteen year old Harry was the son of a loving mother and father, and doted on baby sister, Tom, short for Thomasina Yes, Tom is a tomboy Harry and his family are better off than most His father is a farmer, a barber, and most important, the town constable Both his parents have a strong moral code stressing the value of human life no matter the color of another person s skin.Should the reader think this is sounding familiar, it should This is Lansdale s move of To Kill a Mockingbird from Alabama to Texas As Jem and Scout were intent on bringing Boo Radley out of hiding, so Harry and Tom are fascinated with an elusive figure known as The Goat Man The Goatman is a well known Texas folklore legend Outside of Denton, Texas, stands the old Alton Bridge, built in 1884 A black goat farmer Oscar Washburn lived nearby In 1938, for reasons unknown, he was dragged from his family home, and lynched by hanging from the Altmon bridge When the Klan came back to check on the their handiwork, Washburn s body was gone Through decades, the Goatman has been sighted on the Alton bridge, sometimes as a figure leading herds of goats, sometimes carrying the heads of two goats, and sometimes as a figure half man and half goat The Goatman s BridgeKnown also as a writer of horror, it comes as no surprise that the Goatman appears as a central figure of interest courtesy of Joe Lansdale The only change being that the bridge has been transformed into a deteriorating swinging bridge Come on, it s near Halloween Just go with it The Goatman of Texas LoreHarry and Tom are accompanied on their adventures by an unforgettable dog named Toby Although severely injured, Toby is indestructible and a loyal companion to his kids.While out squirrel hunting, Harry and Tom find the body of a black woman, mutilated, and bound in barbed wire Their discovery becomes the first of a series of murders Constable Collins doggedly pursues the killer, although the white population shows no concern Of what value is a dead black woman who was nothingthan a prostitute Racism rears its ugly head Following in the footsteps of Atticus Finch, Collins is determined to solve the murders His white neighbors dub him a nigger lover Things rapidly turn uglier when a white woman becomes a victim of the mysterious killer The Klan comes out and lynches an innocent black man Jacob Collins crawls into a bottle when he is unable to prevent the Klan from carrying out hanging Oscar, the man in the wrong place at the wrong time Poor Mose has lived alone since the disappearance of his wife and brain addled son years ago.The town settles down until another white woman is found dead This victim is no prostitute, but a respected member of the community, sought after by many suitors Think Miss Maudie Jacob Collins wreaks vengeance on the ring leaders of Mose s killers He climbs out of the bottle to bring the real killer to light Harry and Tom begin their longest journey one night, just as Jem and Scout did Tom is the killer s intended victim And the Goat Man comes out just as Boo Radley did.The Bottoms is a satisfying read However, I would have found itsatisfying had it ended with Jacob sitting up in Tom s room, knowing he would still be there the next morning.There are flaws in this book There are numerous sub plots setting up other possible suspects that Lansdale s solution is to wrap them up in an extended epilogue by Harry which borders on the tedious I found Harry s lengthy conclusion less than satisfying I leave it to the reader to make their own determination.Perhaps this is Joe Lansdale s homage to that masterpiece of Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird I ll give him the benefit of a doubt This novel is an expansion of his young adult novella, Mad Dog Summer found in Mad Dog Summer And Other Stories Lansdale is currently producing a film of The Bottoms, starring Bill Paxton.Joe R Lansdale is a prolific writer The Bottoms captured the 2001 Edgar Award for best mystery He has won the British Fantasy Award, the American Horror Award and has scooped up nine Bram Stoker Awards, and was voted a World Horror Grand Master He is the author of the popular Hap and Leonard Series His latest novel is The Thicket Lansdale, born in Gladewater, Texas, now lives in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he is the writer in residence at Stephen F Austin 9 10 We have no Halloween traditions in Eastern Europe, but since I read so many books published in the US I got into the habit of picking up in October some titles that don t usually migrate to the top of my reading stack I don t mind horror it s not my favorite genre, but I have found some real gems in the past 2014 is the year I tried my very first Joe R Lansdale story, and I have chosen The Bottoms both because I noticed it received some literary prizes and because it is a standalone, no 9 10 We have no Halloween traditions in Eastern Europe, but since I read so many books published in the US I got into the habit of picking up in October some titles that don t usually migrate to the top of my reading stack I don t mind horror it s not my favorite genre, but I have found some real gems in the past 2014 is the year I tried my very first Joe R Lansdale story, and I have chosen The Bottoms both because I noticed it received some literary prizes and because it is a standalone, not part of a series My reaction is quite enthusiastic, mostly about Lansdale storytelling talent, equal in my opinion to the likes of Stephen King and Robert McCammon Speaking of McCammon, The Bottoms has as the main narrator Harry Crane, a young boy who needs to come to terms with death and with racial prejudices, reminding me of Boy s Life Harry has a little sister, a tomboy named Tom, and she is not the only aspect of the story that pointed me in the direction of the classic To Kill A Mockinbird There s also the strong father figure, the mysterious neighbour called here the Goat Man, again the racial tensions and the lessons that will last for a lifetime Lansdale though cannot be accused of imitating these other writers his story is darker, scarier, and the real monsters are sadly not some supernatural creatures from the swamp, but the people living next door.The setting is as much a part of the story as the humans East Texas during the times of the Great Depression was a backward place, sparsely populated and almost isolated from the rest of the country, a swampy place of poor soil and tangled forests where the easiest transport was by boat on the riverWe lived back in the deep woods near the Sabine River in a three room white house Daddy had built before we were born We had a leak in the roof, no electricity, a smoky wood stove, a rickety barn, a sleeping porch with a patched screen, and an outhouse prone to snakes For Harry Crane and his sister the Bottoms are a place of constant adventure, a hunting ground for squirrels and rabbits, a fertile source of scary stories passed down from generation to generation There are rumours of a Goat Man who hides in the forest and only comes out at night to steal unwary children, and of a travelling bluesman who made a pact with the Devil in order to be able to charm the audience with the tunes of his guitarThe bottoms themselves were beautiful The trees lush, the leaves heavy with rain, the blackberry vines twisting and tangling, sheltering rabbits and snakes Even the poison ivy winding around the oak trees seemed beautiful and green and almost something you wanted to touch.But like poison ivy, looks could be deceptive Under all that beauty, the bottoms held dark things Once, when the two siblings are caught up late in the forest, they came upon the dead body of a woman, horribly mutilated and tied to a tree on the banks of the river Childhood and innocence are about to be terminated for Harry as his father, the local constable, is unable to make any progress in the investigation On the contrary, it soon becomes apparent that this was not an isolated case, but the work of a serial killer The fact that the victims are black prostitutes only serves to underline the deep social division between the white and the black communities, the power that the Kluxers still had in that period to intimidate, to persecute and ultimately to kill while good people were afraid to speak up As Miss Maggie, an old coloured friend of Harry, explainsIt ain t gonna be You can rest on that My people, they like chaff, boy They blow away in the breeze and ain t no one cares Whoever done this have to kill a white person if he gonna get the big law on him Lansdale merit in tackling segregation and hate is in how strongly he makes the issue personal, not some political or philosophical debate, but a choice you have to make at one point or another in life and then to practice what you preach, even if it gets you isolated and attacked by the bigots and the bullies Harry s education is written not in schoolbooks 9the school is actually closed for lack of teachers , but in the blood of the innocent victims of prejudice and in the evenpainful lesson that adults are not infallible, when the father he worships has his own moment of despair and resemnationJust a short time before I had been a happy kid with no worries I didn t even know it was the Depression, let alone there were murderers outside of the magazines I read down at the barbershop, and none of the magazines I read had to do with killers who did this kind of thing And Daddy, though a good man, sincere and true, if briefly distracted, was no Doc Savage In the same vein, maybe I m repeating myself, but these things need to be said out loud, today as much as in the 1930 sIt s easy to hate, Harry It s easy to say this and that happens because the colored do or don t do one thing or another, but life isn t that easy, son Constablin , I ve seen some of the worst human beings there is, both white and colored Color don t have a thing to do with meanness Or goodness You remember that The plot is not a simple murder investigation or a story of racial hatred If it were, I don t think it would stay long in my memory What I really got from the book was a sense of the place and of the people living there, of the importance of family and traditions, and of the importance of the strong moral backbone, of the integrity and honesty that will see you through even when you live at the bottom of the social ladder The adults around Harry are imperfect, even the closest to him have their secrets and their weaknesses and their moments of doubt There s also a way out Harry loves to read It s mostly pulp magazines and cheap comics in the beginning, but the boy will soon discover the pleasures a lending library can bring even into the most backward of places.Regarding the prose of Lansdale, all I can say is that it has a natural flow, a rhythm borrowed from the oral traditions For local colour it uses a lot of colourful similes that show a streak of healthy peasant humourMy Daddy used to say there were skeeters over there big enough to carry off a man and eat him and wear his shoes another example, about some rednecks bulliesThey had, as Daddy said, the manners of a billy goat I once heard him say to Cecil, when he thought I was out of earshot, that if you took the Nation family s brains and waded them up together and stuck them up a gnat s butt and shook the gnat, it d sound like a ball bearing in a boxcar Lansdale can also write whimsical and poetic passages, when the story requests it, as when the elderly Harry Crane contemplates the changes brought about by several decades of progress to his bottom landsBut the beautiful woods are all gone now, cut down, cemented over with car lots and filling stations, homes and satellite dishes The river is there, but the swamps it made have been drained Alligators have gone away or been killed off The birds are not as plentiful, and there is something sad about seeing them glide over concrete surfaces, casting their tiny shadows All in all, an excellent choice for Halloween and for fans of crime or Southern literature I will probably read next the Hap and Leonard books by Joe Lansdale, as I am pretty sure that he can continue to deliver the goods &KINDLE ⇫ The Bottoms ☂ The narrator of The Bottoms is Harry Collins, an old man obsessively reflecting on certain key experiences of his childhood In , the year that forms the centerpiece of the narrative, Harry isyears old and living with his mother, father, and younger sister on a farm outside of Marvel Creek, Texas, near the Sabine River bottoms Harry s world changes forever when he discovers the corpse of a young black woman tied to a tree in the forest near his home The woman, who is eventually identified as a local prostitute, has been murdered, molested, and sexually mutilated She is also, as Harry will soon discover, the first in a series of similar corpses, all of them the victims of a new, unprecedented sort of monster a traveling serial killerFrom his privileged position as the son of constable and farmer and part time barber Jacob Collins, Harry watches as the distinctly amateur investigation unfolds As bodies not all of them colored surface, the mood of the local residents darkens Racial tensions never far from the surface, even in the best of times gradually kindle When circumstantial evidence implicates an ancient, innocent black man named Mose, the Ku Klux Klan mobilizes, initiating a chilling, graphically described lynching that will occupy a permanent place in Harry Collins s memories With Mose dead and the threat to local white women presumably put to rest, the residents of Marvel Creek resume their normal lives, only to find that the actual killer remains at large and continues to threaten the safety and stability of the townLansdale uses this protracted murder investigation to open up a window on an insular, poverty stricken, racially divided community With humor, precision, and great narrative economy, he evokes the society of Marvel Creek in all its alternating tawdriness and nobility, offering us a varied, absolutely convincing portrait of a world that has receded into history At the same time, he offers us a richly detailed re creation of the vibrant, dangerous physical landscapes that were part of that world and have since been buried under the concrete and cement of the industrialized juggernaut of the late th century In Lansdale s hands, the gritty realities of Depression era Texas are as authentic and memorable as anything in recent American fiction Every time I finish a Joe R Lansdale book I swear that I need to readof his books Often life gets in the way, though, and a good deal of time goes by before I pick up another Having just finished The Bottoms, I am really, really, really determined to make Joe Lansdale one of my best friends This standalone novel, written in the guise of an old man s reminiscence, is an exceptional combination of murder mystery and coming of age tale set in East Texas during the Great Depression Harry Every time I finish a Joe R Lansdale book I swear that I need to readof his books Often life gets in the way, though, and a good deal of time goes by before I pick up another Having just finished The Bottoms, I am really, really, really determined to make Joe Lansdale one of my best friends This standalone novel, written in the guise of an old man s reminiscence, is an exceptional combination of murder mystery and coming of age tale set in East Texas during the Great Depression Harry Collins, 14, lives with his family along the banks of the Sabine River His father, Jacob, has donned many hats farmer, barber, town constable in his struggle to stay afloat during the lean years of the Depression One day while hunting with his sister, Tom okay, Thomasina they find the mutilated body of a black woman tied to a tree near the river Soonbodies turn up and the hunt is on for a killer While Jacob is searching for a human killer, Harry and Tom are convinced that they have already seen the killer, the legendary Goat Man, rud to stalk the river bottoms in search of prey Things get complicated quickly when one of the victims turns out to be white and the local Klan gets involved Although this is an original tale in its own right it also has many undeniable similarities to To Kill a Mockingbird which I found inexplicably entertaining Ordinarily I would find copycatting Harper Lee presumptuous in the extreme and earn the author a good horsewhipping Lansdale, however, gets a pass from me because his remarkable character building skills and storytelling ability kept me fully engaged all the way through to its bittersweet ending On the downside, the whodunit aspects of the story aren t as challenging as they could be so readers who consider the author s skill at concealing the killer s identity important, you may not be too impressed If you are like me, however, and are just along for the ride, you will likely find it enjoyable 4.5 stars rounded up because, well damn it, because I can and I want to FYI On a 5 point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements 5 Stars Nothing at all If it ain t broke, don t fix it 4 Stars It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it s pretty good as it is 3 Stars A solid C grade Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered great or memorable 2 Stars This book needs a lot of work A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending 1 Star The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire I first discovered Joe Lansdale when I found a discounted hardcover copy of THE BOTTOMS at Half Price Books This excellent book started my love affair with the works of CHAMPION JOE If you ve never read him, give Hisownself a try