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Sunset and sawdust by Joe R. Lansdale
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Sunset and sawdust (edition 2004)

by Joe R. Lansdale

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309736,351 (3.76)6
Member:clfisha
Title:Sunset and sawdust
Authors:Joe R. Lansdale
Info:New York : Alfred A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2004.
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:crime, noir, Texas, oil, Great Depression, 2013

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Sunset and Sawdust by Joe R. Lansdale

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Showing 5 of 5
REVIEWED: Sunset and Sawdust
WRITTEN BY: Joe R. Lansdale
PUBLISHED: January, 2005

This is classic Lansdale: Well-written, gripping, and at times poignantly funny. Sunset Jones kills her abusive husband in self-defense in the middle of a cyclone. It’s really quite symbolic as not only her home and husband are gone, but her entire life is torn apart. From the very beginning, it’s a story of her reconstructing everything around her, including her own world views. Through the assistance of her wealthy mother-in-law, Sunset becomes Sheriff of the town, a small logging camp in the 1930’s depression. One of her first orders of business is to solve a brutal double murder that her late-husband (the former Sheriff) buried. The book effortlessly cuts across genres of mystery and thriller, horror, western and humor. Lansdale, as common for him, deals with race and gender issues and takes a progressive stance against commonly held clichés. Great read overall. The only complaint was that Lansdale built up such a pair of clever and creepy villains, but then rarely used them. He needs to write a prologue story stat, just about McBride and his half-brother, Two!

Four out of Five stars ( )
  Eric_J._Guignard | Jun 25, 2013 |
Opening with a dramatic start; our heroine, Sunset, shoots the Sheriff (her husband) in the head as he tries to rape and beat her. Events which leave Sunset, homeless, husbandless and in need of a job. So in slightly implausible circumstances through support of her powerful mother in law (who pretty much owns the only company in the town) she gets her husband’s job.. and gets thrust into a solving some brutal murders.

This is a whodunit with a lot of darkness but a lot of heart. Set in Texas during the Great Depression we get drifters, low life’s, lost souls, Ku Klux Klan, hard workers and firm friends. Once I got over the implausible premise this was a fun read, the murders are secondary really to Sunset and her daughter struggling to come up for air. The highs and lows of the peripheral characters. The story twists enough to keep you entertained and Lansdale is very good at strong female characters, satisfying endings, visually arresting fights and tense drama. It's not gratuitous by any means but the darkness ramps up the tension. You never know who is going to make it.

It may not be my favourite of Lansdale’s (try Edge of Dark Water) but lovers of crime and Lansdale fans will lap this up. ( )
  clfisha | Jan 29, 2013 |
It's the depression era in East Texas. The Klu Klux Klan is active and many Texas men feel that they can smack around their wives and not have to answer for it.

Constable Pete Jones comes home drunk and beats his wife, Sunset. Then he begins to rape her. As this is happening, she reaches for his revolver, shoots him in the head and kills him.

Since the sawmill town of Camp Rapture, Texas is now without law enforcement, at a camp meeting, with the help of Sunset's mother-in-law, who is majority owner of the sawmill, Sunset is appointed the new constable, on a trial basis. She will be assisted by Clyde Fox and a new man in town who goes by the nickname, Hillbilly.

Soon after Sunset is appointed, the body of a dead baby is found on the land of the only black farmer in the town. Not long after, a woman's body is found, shot and covered with oil.

To the surprise of many, Sunset takes her job seriously. She tries to learn the functions of her job and identify the dead bodies. When she identifies the woman, complications arise. As this is happening, Sunset must deal with the issues of her precocious fourteen-year-old daughter and her mother-in-law.

As I read the story, I was impressed with the depiction of the action. The realistic portrayal of events made it seem as if they were occuring in front of me.

I felt drawn to the difficulty of life at that time and the courageousness of Sunset. ( )
  mikedraper | Aug 31, 2010 |
My favorite Lansdale. ( )
  fordbarbara | Jan 6, 2009 |
http://fireandsword.blogspot.com/2007/01/sunset-and-sawdust-by-joe-r.html

The fertile imagination of Joe Lansdale spins another gripping tale of the life and crimes of a naif in a corrupt land. Lansdale doesn’t just spin out a mystery, he tells a story about a time and a place and the people who live there. You could say he paints a picture, the dominant color is blood-red.
1 vote DaveHardy | Jan 3, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375719229, Paperback)

In the middle of a cyclone, beautiful, red-haired Sunset Jones shoots her husband Pete dead when he tries to beat and rape her. To Camp Rapture’s general consternation, Sunset’s mother-in-law arranges for her to take over from Pete as town constable. As if that weren’t hard enough to swallow in depression era east Texas, Sunset actually takes the job seriously, and her investigation into a brutal double murder pulls her into a maelstrom of greed, corruption, and unspeakable malice. It is a case that will require a well of inner strength she never knew she had. Spirited and electrifying, Sunset and Sawdust is a mystery and a tale like nothing you’ve read before.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:57 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"It begins with an explosion: Sunset Jones kills her husband with a bullet to the brain. Never mind that he was raping her. Pete Jones was constable of the small sawmill town of Camp Rapture ("Camp Rupture" to the local blacks), where no woman, least of all Pete's, refuses her husband what he wants." "So most everyone is surprised and angry when, thanks to the unexpected understanding of her mother-in-law - three-quarter owner of the mill - Sunset is named the new constable. And they're even more surprised when she dares to take the job seriously: beginning an investigation into the murder of a woman and an unborn baby whose oil-drenched bodies are discovered buried on land belonging to the only black landowner in town. Yet no one is more surprised than Sunset herself when the murders lead her - through a labyrinth of greed, corruption, and unspeakable malice - not only to the shocking conclusion of the case, but to a well of inner strength she never knew she had."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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