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Cold in July Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1995

77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Despite the trappings -- guns, stakeouts, an ex-con, a private eye, a porn ring, a shootout -- this isn't an ordinary suspense novel. It's a lean, effective character study about a man who risks his comfortable life to pursue something half-glimpsed within his psyche. He feels guilty about his father's suicide, he doubts his ability to raise his own son, and now he's mixed up with another father, whose son has gone into a place of great darkness. A stirring tale in which actions have consequences, and no one is left unchanged by the things that they see and do.


“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
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press; Reprint edition (July 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446404306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446404303
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.5 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,585,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joe R. Lansdale is the author of over thirty novels and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in national anthologies, magazines, and collections, as well as numerous foreign publications. He has written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and Internet sites. His work has been collected in eighteen short-story collections, and he has edited or co-edited over a dozen anthologies.

Lansdale has received the Edgar Award, eight Bram Stoker Awards, the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Grinzani Cavour Prize for Literature, the Herodotus Historical Fiction Award, the Inkpot Award for Contributions to Science Fiction and Fantasy, and many others.

A major motion picture based on Lansdale's crime thriller Cold in July was released in May 2014, starring Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Sam Shepard (Black Hawk Down), and Don Johnson (Miami Vice). His novella Bubba Hotep was adapted to film by Don Coscarelli, starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. His story "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" was adapted to film for Showtime's "Masters of Horror." He is currently co-producing a TV series, "Hap and Leonard" for the Sundance Channel and films including The Bottoms, based on his Edgar Award-winning novel, with Bill Paxton and Brad Wyman, and The Drive-In, with Greg Nicotero.

Lansdale is the founder of the martial arts system Shen Chuan: Martial Science and its affiliate, Shen Chuan Family System. He is a member of both the United States and International Martial Arts Halls of Fame. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas with his wife, dog, and two cats.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Wayne C. Rogers on November 7, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.Read more ›
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By CMK on November 10, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While the book starts out reminding the reader of The Executioners by John D Mcdonald, it doesn't take long before Lansdale quickly turns out one of his classic twists and takes you on another ride into the dark.
This is one of the first books that I ever read by Mr. Lansdale and I have been hooked ever since. I recommend it highly.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Barks Book Nonsense on April 28, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
COLD IN JULY starts out with a bang - literally - when everyman Richard Dane is forced to shoot an intruder intent on robbing and possibly murdering his family. Never having murdered someone, Richard is having a hard time of it. He's replaced the bloodstained couch and painted the wall but he still can't forget that awful night.
Overwhelmed with guilt, he attends the funeral of the small time crook and is spotted by the dead man's dangerous ex-con father. Dear old Dad is none too happy with his son's murderer and while he's not dumb enough to come right out and say it he alludes to what a shame it would be if something were to happen to Dane's four-year-old son. An eye for an eye and all that.
This is only the beginning of Dane's weird introduction into a world chock full of bizarre goings-on. Dane's quiet little life will never be the same as he comes face to face with the darkest side of human nature.
Although COLD IN JULY is by no means a light book - it's dark and as suspenseful as a books gets - the best thing about it is it's well drawn, flawed characters and the wickedly funny dialogue. I would excerpt some of my favorite lines but going back through the book I realize they're all pretty nasty. Lansdale's humor probably isn't for everyone but those who like humorous, earthy dialogue will be in for a good howl.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William Malmborg on August 17, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Waking up in the middle of the night to unfamiliar sounds within ones own house is always eerie, but usually ends up being the result of something harmless. Unfortunately for Richard Dane this isn't the case. The sounds that wake him and his wife in the middle of the night are those of a burglar having just broken in, one who happens to be armed with a handgun. Luckily Richard Dane also has a gun (did I mention the book takes place in Texas?) and is the faster of the two when it comes to pulling the trigger. The result, one less burglar in the world, his last mark upon civilization being the chucks of brain matter that ended up on the wall behind him as the bullet punched through the back of his skull. Oh, and one very pissed off ex-con father who wants revenge. The father's name is Ben Russell and his new goal in life is taking Richard Dane's son away the way Richard Dane took his son, an eye for an eye so to speak (hell, a son for a son -- I'm pretty sure that one was in the Hammurabi Code as well). To Ben Russell it doesn't matter that his son was a lowlife burglar and that Richard Dane's son is an innocent four year old, he will have his vengeance. Richard Dane, however, isn't planning on just sitting back and letting the wishes of the ex-con father play out. No, no, no. He is going to do everything he can to keep his son alive, even if that means having to take a second life. Little do the two fathers realize not everything is as it seems. Forces are at work that neither man knows about, ones that will do everything within their own power to stop the two from uncovering the truth of the dead burglar and Ben Russell's son.

Cold in July was, by far, one of the best books I have read this year.
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