Sunday, March 11, 2012

Book Review (Twofer!): The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale and Two-Way Split by Allan Guthrie

I haven't done any book reviews lately and today seemed like a good time to play catch up, so I decided to give you a two-for-one deal. I am feeling especially saucy since I finished my second round revisions of The Old Royal and handed it off to my second beta reader. (BTW, it should be coming to an ebook retailer soon, so keep an eye out! Of course, stay tuned here and you'll know before anyone else.)

First, let me tell you about Joe R. Lansdale's The Bottoms. I got the paperback from Barnes & Noble because I had heard Joe's name mentioned by some authors I follow on social media. I had never read any of his material and this book's synopsis really intrigued me. It's a mystery that takes place in the south during the Depression. This sounded right up my alley. I'm glad I took a chance on it because I wasn't disappointed.

Lansdale, I discovered, is a fantastic writer. His descriptions are spot on and his character development is phenomenal.

He paints the story in your mind flawlessly. The story is told by an elderly Harry, recounted from memories of his childhood, about discovering the body of a murdered black woman. Harry's father is the constable in their county and begins an investigation to determine who killed the woman. More bodies are discovered and several people are suspected. In addition to the mystery of who the killer is, there is a local legend Harry is faced with confronting, that of the Goat Man.

While this is mainly a mystery, it is also a coming-of-age story about Harry and his sister. In addition, it tackles race relations in the south during the early thirties. Lansdale seems to have really done his research with this book and nailed the dialect in his dialogue without weighing the reader down with unnecessary punctuation, which is a fine line to balance.

I discovered a zombie anthology at B&N that featured a story by Joe and looked up that story in the book. Since this was the only book of his I'd read, I wanted to see if this was just a fluke or if his other work is just as good. Now, I'm not a zombie fan (aside from The Walking Dead, which I love!) as I feel it's been well mined. However, Lansdale's tale in the anthology seemed to be on par with this book. The dialogue was strong as were the characters. I gave The Bottoms 5 out of 5 stars and plan to read more of his work. If you want a southern crime story that will keep you turning the page, I suggest you get a copy of this book!

The second book in this twofer is Allan Guthrie's Two-Way Split. This is a crime drama that takes place in the UK, Ireland to be precise. There are several characters whose paths cross and the plot becomes a tangled web of intrigue. In additions to the superb and engaging plot, there is a central theme on the title throughout the story, which I found to be beautifully executed.

Now, I'm not typically a big fan of British authors because I become distracted by the use of their slang.

It differs so much from ours that I find it difficult to follow and lose interest in the story. That was not the case with Guthrie's Two-Way Split. Sure, he uses quite a bit of British slang, but it's easy to pick up on in the context he uses it. Not to mention, his characters are some bad asses. I really enjoyed the action in this book and the conclusion. Although, there was one small section where I became confused by a character. This, however, turned out to be straightened out further on as I read and completely understood.

It's extremely rare for me to say this about British authors, but I intend to check out some more stories by Allan Guthrie. He did such an excellent job with this book that I want to see what else he is capable of. So, if you want to read a kick-ass hard-boiled crime story from the UK, you need to get a copy of Allan Guthrie's Two-Way Split. I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised.

I hope you'll pick up one of these (or both) books and enjoy it (them) the way I did. Thanks for stopping by!

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