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Moon Lake

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From an Edgar award-winning author comes the gripping and unexpected tale of a lost town and the dark secrets that lie beneath the glittering waters of an East Texas lake. Daniel Russell was only thirteen years old when his father tried to kill them both by driving their car into Moon Lake. Miraculously surviving the crash—and growing into adulthood—Daniel returns to the si From an Edgar award-winning author comes the gripping and unexpected tale of a lost town and the dark secrets that lie beneath the glittering waters of an East Texas lake. Daniel Russell was only thirteen years old when his father tried to kill them both by driving their car into Moon Lake. Miraculously surviving the crash—and growing into adulthood—Daniel returns to the site of this traumatic incident in the hopes of recovering his father's car and bones. As he attempts to finally put to rest the memories that have plagued him for years, he discovers something even more shocking among the wreckage that has ties to a twisted web of dark deeds, old grudges, and strange murders.   As Daniel diligently follows where the mysterious trail of vengeance leads, he unveils the heroic revelation at its core.  


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From an Edgar award-winning author comes the gripping and unexpected tale of a lost town and the dark secrets that lie beneath the glittering waters of an East Texas lake. Daniel Russell was only thirteen years old when his father tried to kill them both by driving their car into Moon Lake. Miraculously surviving the crash—and growing into adulthood—Daniel returns to the si From an Edgar award-winning author comes the gripping and unexpected tale of a lost town and the dark secrets that lie beneath the glittering waters of an East Texas lake. Daniel Russell was only thirteen years old when his father tried to kill them both by driving their car into Moon Lake. Miraculously surviving the crash—and growing into adulthood—Daniel returns to the site of this traumatic incident in the hopes of recovering his father's car and bones. As he attempts to finally put to rest the memories that have plagued him for years, he discovers something even more shocking among the wreckage that has ties to a twisted web of dark deeds, old grudges, and strange murders.   As Daniel diligently follows where the mysterious trail of vengeance leads, he unveils the heroic revelation at its core.  

30 review for Moon Lake

  1. 5 out of 5

    Char

    " 'The moon is up. The water is high. Dark souls walk the earth and cry.' "-Jerzy Fitzgerald. "My name is Daniel Russell. I dream of dark water." So begins MOON LAKE. This is the story of Daniel Russell, a young white boy with no living parents, rescued from a lake by a mermaid. Sent to live with the Candle family until his only living relative could be located-those days with the Candles ended up being some of the best of his life. But back in the late 1960's, a white boy couldn't live with a bl " 'The moon is up. The water is high. Dark souls walk the earth and cry.' "-Jerzy Fitzgerald. "My name is Daniel Russell. I dream of dark water." So begins MOON LAKE. This is the story of Daniel Russell, a young white boy with no living parents, rescued from a lake by a mermaid. Sent to live with the Candle family until his only living relative could be located-those days with the Candles ended up being some of the best of his life. But back in the late 1960's, a white boy couldn't live with a black family for long and soon enough he was reunited with his white aunt. Years later, though, returning to town due to his aunt's death, Danny decides to stick around. He's now a journalist and there is a mystery in New Long Lincoln, one that still bothers Danny to this day. This time, he's going to get an answer, come hell or high water. Will Danny solve his mystery? What does it have to do with the moon and the dark water? You'll have to read this to find out! I just love Joe Lansdale's use of language and I have since the first time I ever read his work. He makes me laugh and he's also made me cry. At one point, in a boat in a storm: "The water pushed at us like a thug wanting our lunch money." Another time, when he finally met his aunt: "Way she looked at me, I might as well have been a small pox blister." Just simple words and phrases, but put together, in the way that only Joe R. Lansdale, Champion Mojo Storyteller, can do. He writes in all genres, and as I once heard Brian Keene say on his now defunct podcast, Joe R. Lansdale is a genre unto himself. He writes westerns, mysteries and bat-shit crazy horror like the Drive-In novels. He writes suspense and he writes buddy novels, (Hap and Leonard.) There's nothing he can't write. In this narrative we have a crime story, evil in a small town, a cult-like group of city councilors and a lake full of sunken cars. How can you not be enticed? I enjoyed the hell of out this book and I think you would too! Highly recommended! *Thanks to Mullholland Books and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann

    Review originally published at Tor Nightfire: https://tornightfire.com/moon-lake-is... Moon Lake by Joe Lansdale is this year’s summer read. I hesitate to mention that I burned through several chapters in my backyard hammock because it sounds cliche, but I really did and it was magical. Lansdale’s storytelling voice feels like coming home and sleeping in your own bed. It’s welcoming, comfortable, and familiar. The main character, Daniel Russell, captures reader’s hearts immediately at age thirteen Review originally published at Tor Nightfire: https://tornightfire.com/moon-lake-is... Moon Lake by Joe Lansdale is this year’s summer read. I hesitate to mention that I burned through several chapters in my backyard hammock because it sounds cliche, but I really did and it was magical. Lansdale’s storytelling voice feels like coming home and sleeping in your own bed. It’s welcoming, comfortable, and familiar. The main character, Daniel Russell, captures reader’s hearts immediately at age thirteen when the story begins. A sudden and life-threatening trauma leaves Daniel an orphan, and he is temporarily placed with an African American family who takes him in as though he were their own kin. The small town of Long Lincoln, Texas, in the late sixties, does not look favorably upon a young white boy assimilating so well into the home of a Black family, no matter how well they’re taking care of his needs or how happy he seems to be there. Lansdale does an excellent job exploring social issues while preserving Daniel’s naiveté as he comes of age. I am a longtime fan of what I like to call ‘horror with heart’. Raised on the character-driven stories of Stephen King, I have developed a hunger for fictional people that I can emotionally invest in. Horror is at its best when the lives of characters you care about are at risk. In Moon Lake, readers watch Daniel process through grief, loss, first love, loneliness, betrayal, abandonment, and fear. We go through it with him. His struggle becomes our struggle. Ultimately, we want nothing more than to see Daniel get closure and find a community of people that will love him so that he can find some sense of belonging. These basic human needs are at the core of every Lansdale story I’ve read. Moon Lake transitions into a Southern Gothic crime-noir when grown Daniel returns to Long Lincoln after he gets a call from the local sheriff with some new information about his childhood trauma. Like any small-town horror or crime noir drama, once someone starts digging around in the past, peeling back layers and uncovering secrets, the townsfolk find out and put up their defenses. The town of Long Lincoln is a major character itself. Just like Lansdale’s famous fictional town of LaBorde, Texas, from the Hap & Leonard series, Long Lincoln is rife with ingrown systemic racism and has a long history of corruption in local government. The townies don’t take too kindly to anyone stirring up trouble or asking too many questions. Daniel Russell teams up with some vibrant characters to assist in his urgent quest to solve a decades-old mystery, both for his own sake and for the sake of everyone else involved. There is so much to love about this story–I especially enjoy Lansdale’s sense of humor that helps lend a certain authenticity to the narrative. Life is never serious one hundred percent of the time, and horror doesn’t have to take itself so seriously. Characters, even the ones you fall in love with as a reader, do not have to be morally pure or make the best decisions–they can be flawed and a little fucked up, because honestly, if they’re not, who can relate? It’s easy to single out specific characters and assign motives and theories to their involvement in Daniel’s mystery. At the end of every chapter, Lansdale tempts readers to keep investing, stay hungry and curious. Moon Lake seduces its audience into a smoldering, tantalizing mystery peppered with humor and heart. Don’t miss it!

  3. 5 out of 5

    J.K. Grice

    Wow...Champion Joe does it again! MOON LAKE is a page turner chock full of compelling characters and the best East Texas noir, not to mention Lansdale's colorful and often hilarious colloquialisms and similes. I loved the time period, which takes the reader from the 1960's to 1978. I also thought the occult/ritualistic theme of the novel was some different ground for Lansdale to cover and that was a real treat. So, do yourself a favor and pick up this latest offering from Hisownself, the greates Wow...Champion Joe does it again! MOON LAKE is a page turner chock full of compelling characters and the best East Texas noir, not to mention Lansdale's colorful and often hilarious colloquialisms and similes. I loved the time period, which takes the reader from the 1960's to 1978. I also thought the occult/ritualistic theme of the novel was some different ground for Lansdale to cover and that was a real treat. So, do yourself a favor and pick up this latest offering from Hisownself, the greatest Mojo Storyteller of all time.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    This small-town mystery thriller is sure to appease the Lansdale fans. I loved it. My full review coming from Cemetery Dance soon.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mike Hughes

    My wife and I were lucky enough to get an ARC from the publishers, i actually danced a little jig when they approved her for the ARC. i have had the book preordered since the announcment, and if you didnt know you can preorder the book and get a signed bookplate if you send in a copy of your preorder. check out Joe's facebook page for more details. But do yourself a favor and BUY THIS BOOK. Another five star read from one of the best. Joe R Lansdale never ceases to deliver a great story. this one My wife and I were lucky enough to get an ARC from the publishers, i actually danced a little jig when they approved her for the ARC. i have had the book preordered since the announcment, and if you didnt know you can preorder the book and get a signed bookplate if you send in a copy of your preorder. check out Joe's facebook page for more details. But do yourself a favor and BUY THIS BOOK. Another five star read from one of the best. Joe R Lansdale never ceases to deliver a great story. this one follows Daniel Russel, a writer who returns back to a small town where he had a very disturbing night with his father when he was 13. He works to uncover secrets buried in that small town and ends up with a little more than he bargained for. Another historical story taking place in the 60's it has a great location and characters in this one, Ronnie is a great character and just wait till you meet Creosote Joe. Lansdale finds a way to inject some race relations in the book without it becoming the total story, just enough to get his point across. Overall a great read, hated to see it end, but thats the way it is with all of Lansdale's stories, you want the story to last forever.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Koltnow

    To be published by Mulholland Books on 22 June 2021 A standalone novel by Joe and a tremendously entertaining one. Reading a Joe R. Lansdale novel is like sitting next to a colorful character at a bar. As he tells you his long yarn, you know he's not being completely truthful (in fact, he's making it all up), yet you don't want to miss a word of it. Its like the spinning of a myth. A young man returns to his hometown, where his father had committed suicide and had almost taken the lad with him, t To be published by Mulholland Books on 22 June 2021 A standalone novel by Joe and a tremendously entertaining one. Reading a Joe R. Lansdale novel is like sitting next to a colorful character at a bar. As he tells you his long yarn, you know he's not being completely truthful (in fact, he's making it all up), yet you don't want to miss a word of it. Its like the spinning of a myth. A young man returns to his hometown, where his father had committed suicide and had almost taken the lad with him, to find out what had happened to his mother, his father, and to the black family that had fostered him. He uncovers a web of rot and deceit and a network of some shady characters. In some ways, MOON LAKE is a fable about black/white relations in a small Texas town. The novel is rich with mystery, horror imagery, and the trademarked Lansdale humor. Do not miss it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    This is super raw and will be popular. Lansdale is an exceptional writer. Very top of the line forms. His conversations, metaphors, similes, era context nuance language- all 4 or 5 star. And he has always been grit for the most part too. But this is a sea change or even an East Texan change, IMHO. Quite a few bridges, sewers AND virtual septic tanks were crossed so to speak here. They call it Gothic? Come on. Be warned. Seriously this book is just about as nasty, pure Horror genre- and also bottom This is super raw and will be popular. Lansdale is an exceptional writer. Very top of the line forms. His conversations, metaphors, similes, era context nuance language- all 4 or 5 star. And he has always been grit for the most part too. But this is a sea change or even an East Texan change, IMHO. Quite a few bridges, sewers AND virtual septic tanks were crossed so to speak here. They call it Gothic? Come on. Be warned. Seriously this book is just about as nasty, pure Horror genre- and also bottom feeder populated as they come. Some parts of it make Deliverance just a hiking story. That's how harsh, crude, low life this one gets. Do not let the Part I of his 13-15 old year fool you. I do not suggest this book to anyone with thin skin, anyone who detests torture or snuff scenes. Or for those who don't like potty humor. I'm not kidding. In the 3rd and last parts I started counting the defecation, urinating, or other bowel or general bottom end references there were in the real speech and in the colorful comparative language skills. Dozens upon dozens. It reminded me of how kids will be (maybe not any more come to think of it) fascinated by calling each other Fart Face or such for periods before they are 10. Also there are monsters of the rather related It ilk and they aren't even all on the same "side". In fact, this reminded me of early to just before mid-time Stephen King SO much that if it wasn't Joe R. Lansdale, who I have read and known in other forms and many published works read? Well, I do think this will be popular. It's really the bottom of the barrel disgusting quotient. Actually pretty close in parallel to the declining sensibilities and actions and mores of the present real time too. UGH! Tawdry, duplicitous, morose, negativity championed. Yes, that all fits. And so this is just about it for me and Lansdale. So many 4 star books! That read like the first part of this one did. Yet now, this kind of stuff is way too much over the top for me. And in conclusion to this reaction. The time frames too???? What happened to cell phones? Looking and using a phone booth. And the Vietnam vet is in his 40's. And yet all of the primes are recording quite easily? Somewhere and some how a whole lot of era sequences are just off. Lot of it doesn't at all sound like 1983 to me either. Not anywhere. Well, Scrooge before the ghost visits was absolutely your cheery uncle compared to this town and these people. It would have been 2 stars if he hadn't had the excellent prime premise of the town flooded under water theme. But still! 2.5 stars rounded up for that setting of a dead flooded town.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Philip Fracassi

    MOON LAKE is a tricky book to try and review, other than to say it's a wonder. For a reader like me, this is a dream-come-true kind of book. Broken into four sections, MOON LAKE tells the story of a corrupt small town, a boy who uses tragedy as a slingshot to become a man willing to take risks, the hate and vile underbelly of segregation and prejudice, a doomed romance and--for good measure--a glimpse of cosmic horror. Part coming-of-age tale, part mystery, part batshit horror show, MOON LAKE del MOON LAKE is a tricky book to try and review, other than to say it's a wonder. For a reader like me, this is a dream-come-true kind of book. Broken into four sections, MOON LAKE tells the story of a corrupt small town, a boy who uses tragedy as a slingshot to become a man willing to take risks, the hate and vile underbelly of segregation and prejudice, a doomed romance and--for good measure--a glimpse of cosmic horror. Part coming-of-age tale, part mystery, part batshit horror show, MOON LAKE delivers on every level. This is one of those books you slow down while reading because you want to make the experience last, the kind leaving you with an emptiness inside after you turn the last page because you realize that world has been closed forever, the story left behind in an old footstep. Regardless, I finished it in three sit-downs, because the pages turned themselves, despite my efforts to extend the ride. This is vintage Lansdale with sprinklings of McCammon and Barron, a pinch of King and Steinbeck for taste. One of my favorite books of the year, if not a top contender for my all-time shelf. My thanks to Mulholland Books for sending me a copy of the book. Highly recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jojo Ann

    Maybe his best yet.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jim Thomsen

    I've often thought there are two things that identify a novel as a good one: 1. How quotable is it? How many passages do you find yourself wanting to copy and share with the world? 2. Do you wish it was twice as along because you'd like to be even more immersed in the world of the story, in every little thing past and present about the characters? When it comes to Joe R. Lansdale's latest, MOON LAKE, I can cheerfully answer "yes" to both question. And that makes it a great novel, one of the best I I've often thought there are two things that identify a novel as a good one: 1. How quotable is it? How many passages do you find yourself wanting to copy and share with the world? 2. Do you wish it was twice as along because you'd like to be even more immersed in the world of the story, in every little thing past and present about the characters? When it comes to Joe R. Lansdale's latest, MOON LAKE, I can cheerfully answer "yes" to both question. And that makes it a great novel, one of the best I've read in a long time. It's like its own survey course in Lansdale's career, combining his love of East Texas, low-rent characters and locales, legends and myths, a splatter of spectral horror and a couple of flyspecked screens' worth of drive-in grindhouse atmosphere. It's fine as it is, but oh, how I wished for more. I would have liked to seen Danny Russell, the orphan turned newsman turned novelist whose life is inextricably intertwined with the namesake lake that claimed his family (and the families of dozens) struggle more in his search for the truth — too many pieces of this dark puzzle about the truth behind all those deaths came to him perhaps a little too easily. And , as someone who believes a story of crime is only as good as those behind the crime, I would have liked to seen a lot more of the evil members of Long Lincoln, Texas' city council, who rule the twon like Third World potentates. I feel that Joe R. Lansdale has earned the right to write — and publish and mass-distribute a Stephen King-sized doorstop novel that leisurely unpacks all the legends and cats long pleasant dark shadows over every character. But that's an observation, not a criticism. Lansdale does just fine with the length he's got, and on the whole, MOON LAKE is a h*ll of a lot of black, bleak, nightmarish fun. Oh, and that quotability I mentioned? Here are some favorite lines: — "We were in our broken-down Buick that had come from a time when cars were big and the American dream lay well within reach for just about anyone white and male and straight who wanted to reach for it. All others, take a number and wait." — "That bridge was narrow and long, the railing on the side was made of thin, rusting strips of metal, and when we drove onto it, it shook and moaned like a sad old woman about to die." — "It was a warm kiss and I liked it more than the one on the cheek she had given me before. I felt it all the way down to my toes and it made the milk and corn bread in my stomach spin around." — "Dreams get crippled from time to time, and the people dreams cripple the most are those without the right kind of backbone. You keep your backbone.” — "Your father wasn’t worth the collected cells that made him, that handsome bastard. There was always something dark and suspicious about him, like a snake in your underwear drawer." — "Buy some condoms and use common sense. Enjoy yourself for a few years. Better yet, die a bachelor. It saves on groceries.” — "I finished up the piece on the partially dog-eaten woman, wrote a half a page of the novel I had started, then tried a few poems, and as usual, all of them sucked. But writing, like boxing, lets the pressure off my mind, no matter what I’m writing about." — "Look, I’m locking up and going home, and tomorrow I’m going fishing. I’ve never been, so I thought I might. Course, I need to get some gear first, so I might not go after all. It seems like a big damn bother to catch a fish and clean it, more I think about it.” — "“City council folks. Think they look old there, now they look like death in a wheelbarrow. Thing is, though, old dogs can bite same as young dogs.” — "The man turned and looked at us. There was an old-fashioned manly air about him. He was thin-lipped and squint-eyed; a lock of his dark hair hung down on his forehead. It was like someone had jacked up Elvis and driven John Wayne up his *ss." — "Strange place. Missing people. Those bones in car trunks. The lake and people drowning in it. It’s like that go**amn lake is made up of misery, pettiness, every mean, soulless act you can imagine, all of it wet with robber-baron dreams. This town is full of oddities, Danny.” — "The sun was so bright that the idea of there being a kind of darkness moving through this rather all-American small city seemed as unlikely as discovering a talking pigeon with a recipe for hot-water corn bread." — "Just give the switch a quick flick. First time I turned it on, I managed to touch the wire instead of the switch and got lit up well enough I d*mn near sucked my panties up through my *sshole. I could taste them in my mouth. Pardon my language, but I’m dying of cancer, so what the f*ck.” — "Jim Crow rides in the back now, but he still gets plenty of trips around town and rests his forearms on the back of the driver’s seat."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cody | CodysBookshelf

    Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending a review copy of this book my way! Moon Lake is is the story of a small-town mystery involving a corrupt town government, a lake, buried bodies, and sunken cars. A young reporter who faced a tragedy in the small town has come back and, with the help of a couple friends from childhood, will try to untangle the mystery. Because this is Joe Lansdale, this book is immensely readable with characters you immediately care for and turns of phrase that wi Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending a review copy of this book my way! Moon Lake is is the story of a small-town mystery involving a corrupt town government, a lake, buried bodies, and sunken cars. A young reporter who faced a tragedy in the small town has come back and, with the help of a couple friends from childhood, will try to untangle the mystery. Because this is Joe Lansdale, this book is immensely readable with characters you immediately care for and turns of phrase that will make you think, and smile. No one tells a story like the Mojo Storyteller. But I must admit this isn’t my favorite Lansdale, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I just found myself struggling to come back to it, and that’s why it took me so long to finish. Still, this is an objectively well-written story—so 4 stars. With a bit more edge and horror imagery than Lansdale has used in quite a while, Moon Lake is distinctive amongst this author’s output and sure to please fans of small-town mysteries with touches of the horror and gothic.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller

    Joe R. Lansdale is one of the most versatile authors working today. He can write horror stories, mysteries, science fiction and thrillers while either firmly ensconcing his latest tale in one genre or effortlessly blurring the lines between two or more of them. MOON LAKE is an example of the latter, a work of historical fiction that combines mystery and thriller elements with a love story and even some horror to boot. It is also a coming-of-age tale, at least at the beginning. Set in the east Tex Joe R. Lansdale is one of the most versatile authors working today. He can write horror stories, mysteries, science fiction and thrillers while either firmly ensconcing his latest tale in one genre or effortlessly blurring the lines between two or more of them. MOON LAKE is an example of the latter, a work of historical fiction that combines mystery and thriller elements with a love story and even some horror to boot. It is also a coming-of-age tale, at least at the beginning. Set in the east Texas town of New Long Lincoln, the book begins with 14-year-old Daniel Russell, who narrowly escapes his father’s murder-suicide plan that involves driving their car into Moon Lake. Moon Lake was formed when the original town of Long Lincoln was deliberately submerged in water with a number of its residents still present, either by accident or by design. Daniel’s mother had disappeared some months before, an incident that apparently led to the elder Russell’s suicide. In the aftermath, Daniel is temporarily placed with a local family until his mother’s sister returns from abroad, at which point he will join her in another city. Her passing a decade later coincides with Daniel being summoned back to New Long Lincoln. It seems that Moon Lake has evaporated from a drought, and the car that doomed Daniel and his father to an all-but-certain death has been recovered. In addition to the body of Daniel’s father, the vehicle contains a surprise in the trunk: a dead woman, who is assumed to be his mother. But Daniel is not so sure as the corpse lacks her distinctive mark. Also, it appears that a local graveyard has been pillaged, with dead bodies placed in the trunks of other previously submerged cars. During his absence from New Long Lincoln, Daniel became a journalist and penned a novel of some renown. This impresses a number of the hometown folks, including Ronnie Candles, a police officer who happens to be a member of the family that took Daniel in on that fateful night 10 years ago. The two of them, all grown up, become involved as Daniel begins a journalistic investigation concerning the bodies found in the trunks. His research leads him to the reasons that Long Lincoln was flooded, as well as the motives behind the actions of the council members who have ruled the town with a collective iron fist. Daniel, Ronnie and others are warned off of the investigation but persist, aided by an enigmatic ally who has been part of the town folklore for decades. However, the council members have a powerful supporter of their own whom Daniel and Ronnie may not be able to overcome. MOON LAKE contains plenty of Lansdale’s trademark elements, including colorful turns of phrase, plot twists and some of the strangest characters you’ll ever come across. Even at this late date, he shows no signs of rust or slowing down. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jason Bovberg

    I’ve been a Joe R. Lansdale fan since … well, not quite the beginning of his career, but pretty close. I remember picking up his groundbreaking weird western Dead in the West at a Fangoria Weekend of Horrors around 1986, and that wasn’t long after he burst onto the scene with his brutal horror novel Act of Love. Later, working for a bookstore in southern California in the early nineties, I discovered (and devoured) his down-n-dirty paperbacks Cold in July, Savage Season, and, of course, The Driv I’ve been a Joe R. Lansdale fan since … well, not quite the beginning of his career, but pretty close. I remember picking up his groundbreaking weird western Dead in the West at a Fangoria Weekend of Horrors around 1986, and that wasn’t long after he burst onto the scene with his brutal horror novel Act of Love. Later, working for a bookstore in southern California in the early nineties, I discovered (and devoured) his down-n-dirty paperbacks Cold in July, Savage Season, and, of course, The Drive-In 1 and The Drive-In 2. After those outrageous cult classics, I was hooked for life. You should see my library shelves today: They hold an awesome assortment of Lansdale’s work, which now spans not only genres but also decades. He’s been knocking them out of the park for forty years, and now he’s one of the most decorated crime writers in history, with such memorable and legendary titles as Mucho Mojo, the Hap and Leonard series, The Magic Wagon, Freezer Burn, The Bottoms, not to mention scads of sharply observed short stories. The thing about Lansdale is his voice. He’s so irresistible because every time you immerse yourself into a new Lansdale yarn, you know you’re going to be transported into his own fascinatingly peculiar tone, that easy drawl, whether it’s embedded in a sweaty east-Texas crime yarn, or thrumming inside a supernatural western, or serving a high-flying fantasy filled with talking apes and militarized dirigibles. It’s always like he’s relaxing right in front of you, telling you his story with a crooked smile and a dark twinkle in his eye. Moon Lake is one of Lansdale’s historical standalone novels, in the vein of his previous books The Thicket and Paradise Sky. Taking place in the 1960s and 1970s, it recounts a terrible crime that scarred the young life of Daniel Russell—and his later investigation as a journalist into that same crime. Looking into what at first seems a private tragedy involving his parents, Daniel eventually uncovers a morass of evil in his hometown of New Long Lincoln, a fictional Texas town that’s home to a unique man-made lake. You can bet that Daniel’s quest for the truth involves a veritable Coen Brothers cavalcade of memorable side characters. The book’s prose is also teeming with brilliant homespun turns of phrase and regional banter, impeccably written, jumping from the page as if from Lansdale’s mouth its-ownself. And true to Lansdale’s cultural preoccupations, Moon Lake is also a potent study of race relations in the south. Moon Lake is a return to form for Lansdale (his previous effort, More Better Deals, didn’t completely satisfy this reader), fully harnessing that distinct voice I mentioned. This is the kind of story Lansdale excels at. Although it doesn’t quite reach the transcendent heights of a work like The Thicket (probably my favorite latter-day Lansdale), it nevertheless is very much worth your time. There’s some awful stuff that happens in this vivid tale, but the author makes the sordidness oddly approachable, pulling you into Daniel’s tale with a mixture of dread and delight.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tiger

    Another entertaining read from Lansdale.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hicks

    Daniel Russell dreams of dark water. In 1968, his father attempted to commit a murder-suicide when he drove his car, with Daniel as passenger, off a bridge and into Moon Lake. Daniel survived, rescued by a young black girl and her father, and lived with them for a time, until being remanded into the custody of his aunt. Ten years later, a drought dries up Moon Lake and reveals Daniel’s father’s car — and bones of the dead woman locked in the trunk. Now a journalist and author, Daniel is adamant Daniel Russell dreams of dark water. In 1968, his father attempted to commit a murder-suicide when he drove his car, with Daniel as passenger, off a bridge and into Moon Lake. Daniel survived, rescued by a young black girl and her father, and lived with them for a time, until being remanded into the custody of his aunt. Ten years later, a drought dries up Moon Lake and reveals Daniel’s father’s car — and bones of the dead woman locked in the trunk. Now a journalist and author, Daniel is adamant that the bones do not belong to his mother, and he sets out to figure out the truth. Moon Lake is billed as a Texas Gothic, and author Joe Lansdale slowly unveils the secrets of Moon Lake and the community of New Long Lincoln. The original Long Lincoln was drowned to build a damn, and those citizens who refused to move were murdered in the ensuing flood. Overlaid atop these drought-revealed ruins are the ghosts of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy, the much-too vibrant spirit of Jim Crow, and the corruption and evil upon which this fiefdom of New Long Lincoln was founded. Given its Gothic sensibilities, Moon Lake toys with the supernatural but largely in the metaphoric. Daniel is haunted by the ghost of his father, but more in a psychological way rather than a literal fashion. More serious are the vile town elders and their murderous machinations that put Daniel’s life in danger more than once. Lansdale incorporates Gothic traditions throughout, evoking decay and superstition via the setting and post-segregation time period, even as 70s-era Texan culture clings tightly to racism. All this is filtered through Lansdale honed, unique voice and spectacular writing, which regularly strikes humorous notes, wild turns of phrase, and quote-worthy dialogue. Moon Lake is a spectacular read, and Lansdale keeps the pages turning with layers of mystery, the promise of evil, and the smooth, crisp prose he’s long since been known for.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Moon Lake by Joe R. Lansdale opens during a night in 1968 East Texas with a disturbed father and his thirteen-year-old son in a car on a bridge over Moon Lake. With ramblings not understood by the boy, his father then drives their car off the bridge and into the depths of Moon Lake. Through an almost miracle, the boy, Danny Russell, is able to escape from the vehicle and is pulled ashore by what he first mistakes to be a beautiful mermaid, soon learning it is instead a young black girl named Vero Moon Lake by Joe R. Lansdale opens during a night in 1968 East Texas with a disturbed father and his thirteen-year-old son in a car on a bridge over Moon Lake. With ramblings not understood by the boy, his father then drives their car off the bridge and into the depths of Moon Lake. Through an almost miracle, the boy, Danny Russell, is able to escape from the vehicle and is pulled ashore by what he first mistakes to be a beautiful mermaid, soon learning it is instead a young black girl named Veronica Candles that happened to be fishing on Moon Lake with her father. When divers can’t locate Danny’s father or car and because Danny’s mother had previously abandoned the two and no other family is available for the care of Danny, the Candles, a kindly Black family, offers to take him in until a more permanent solution can be found. Danny is then sheltered in a family with the care he had never felt before. Mr. Candles mentors Danny, teaching him about life, boxing, being a good person, and the history of Long Lincoln of old and new, and how the original Long Lincoln was flooded for the creation of a hopefully more economically prosperous New Long Lincoln. Eventually, a jet-setting aunt to Danny returns from her globe-trotting and agrees to continue his upbringing. Danny, in his preference of staying with the Candles ignored, learns one of his first lessons when it comes to race in rural Texas and the troubling meanings of societal demands of remaining with one’s own. The novel then jumps forward ten years when a severe drought has caused Moon Lake to dry up, revealing the car and body of Danny’s father, the flooded town of Old Lincoln, and deep dark secrets better left underwater. Soon, Danny is pulled into the sordid underbelly of both Long Lincoln’s which includes running afoul of a network of powerful and deadly people, led by three community elders willing to do anything to protect their interest and in ways that show too often those appearing normal are oftentimes the deadliest of villains. Moon Lake is a good summertime read with likable characters and an interesting story with a mixture of realistic social commentary and an adventurous and escapist main plot. This review was originally published at MysteryandSuspense.com.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Another amazing, gripping tale There's a reason that three of author Joe Lansdale's books are on my all-time favorite list - The Bottoms, A Fine, Dark Line, and Edge of Dark Water. This man is one of my favorite storytellers of all times. From the first line in his books he draws me in, keeps me enthralled, and I always hate reaching the final page. Moon Lake was no different. Set in East Texas as most of his books are, it tells the story of a town submerged under a lake and a young boy whose fath Another amazing, gripping tale There's a reason that three of author Joe Lansdale's books are on my all-time favorite list - The Bottoms, A Fine, Dark Line, and Edge of Dark Water. This man is one of my favorite storytellers of all times. From the first line in his books he draws me in, keeps me enthralled, and I always hate reaching the final page. Moon Lake was no different. Set in East Texas as most of his books are, it tells the story of a town submerged under a lake and a young boy whose father gives up on life, trying to take his son into oblivion with him. Most of the story takes place in the late 1970s when the boy has grown to be a young man and is back in the town of New Long Lincoln trying to track down answers to questions that some people of the town don't want answered. As always, author Lansdale does a stellar job with his characters, both the good and bad guys. The bad guys are always especially evil and even more so in this case. I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves an excellent storyteller. I loved this book and was thrilled when I received an Advanced Reading Copy from Mulholland Books through Net Galley in the hopes that I would read it and leave an unbiased review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Isaac Thorne

    Been a while since I read a Joe R. Lansdale novel. I'm glad the latest one I picked up is his newest one, MOON LAKE. Written in the first person, the book details a man's return to his sinister hometown, where his father is believed to have murdered his mother and then tried to drown himself and his son in Moon Lake. Now a successful author and former journalist, our protagonist digs for the truth about his hometown's longtime powers that be, including rumors about a secret society that murders Been a while since I read a Joe R. Lansdale novel. I'm glad the latest one I picked up is his newest one, MOON LAKE. Written in the first person, the book details a man's return to his sinister hometown, where his father is believed to have murdered his mother and then tried to drown himself and his son in Moon Lake. Now a successful author and former journalist, our protagonist digs for the truth about his hometown's longtime powers that be, including rumors about a secret society that murders townsfolk. At times a critique of small-town politics and racism, MOON LAKE is simultaneously entertaining and relevant. Suspenseful, surprising, and written in Lansdale's masterful style—which remains somehow both poetic and plain-spoken—MOON LAKE is a page-turner full of interesting characters, chills and thrills, and conscience.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    “The moon is up. The water is high. Dark souls walk the earth and cry.” —Jerzy Fitzgerald “..moonlit memories of the dark depths, the taillights of the Buick going down, down, down.” And with this Daniel Russell without mother or father and with an aunt somewhere found some early joy in youth staying with the Candles family ones he expressed as:“The Candles are wonderful people. Better than my family ever was.” His Christmas present from them contained of one particular set of items, the first John “The moon is up. The water is high. Dark souls walk the earth and cry.” —Jerzy Fitzgerald “..moonlit memories of the dark depths, the taillights of the Buick going down, down, down.” And with this Daniel Russell without mother or father and with an aunt somewhere found some early joy in youth staying with the Candles family ones he expressed as:“The Candles are wonderful people. Better than my family ever was.” His Christmas present from them contained of one particular set of items, the first John Carter of Mars books ones he says:“The three books bent me happily out of shape for the next few days.” These John Carter books are something from truth of the authors life and books he held dear to becoming an author and great to read this little insert from an authors real life. The lake, sawmill, junkyard, and the black cemetery, elements in this small town mystery that may be of significance. He advanced on in age and moved and lived with his aunt, became a reporter writing articles for a daily newspaper and went on to write and publish a novel. His real journey of becoming and challenges ahead in the tale with the research and writing of a nonfiction book. This book would uncover secrets and hope to decipher his chaos of the past in the east Texas town in Moon Lake, that time weighty with lose and tragedy part of far bigger set of demons, ghosts, crimes and memories forgotten but never dead to be uncovered that others just won’t want to be. Life and death in the balance with great writing with underdogs, believable characters, social issues with vivid lucid potency and at the same time having you cracking a smile on a dull day or a serious set of facts before you on the page. Indeed a ‘Gothic gumbo’ awaits. A Russian doll tale one inside another. His similes and metaphors cracking a smile, just love to read like these : ..watched him float around that bag, light as an angel’s ghost, slamming it with his fists. It was like someone had jacked up Elvis and driven John Wayne up his ass. Floods were as common as buttholes. It’s like when you invite the family dog onto the couch for just one time, and then it becomes its home. “Shit, let’s go to the office. It’s cold as a witch’s tit in here,” ..his words as cryptic as Sanskrit to a squirrel. ..it’s about time I let loose the badger in the angel cake. ..studying me like a cut of meat at a butcher shop. ..looked about as threatening as concrete yard gnomes. Review @ "https://www.more2read.com/review/moon..." "https://www.more2read.com/review/moon..."

  20. 5 out of 5

    David Simon

    There are a lot of great writers out there. Writers who can stir your soul with the elegance of their descriptions, dazzle you with wordplay and imagination, quicken your pulse and heart in equal measure, blindside you with sudden laughter or even more sudden tears, make you shake your head in wonder at their perfect dialogue, write a fight or battle scene so vivid that you feel every punch and explosion, scare you so bad that you sleep with the lights on. Joe Lansdale can and does do all those t There are a lot of great writers out there. Writers who can stir your soul with the elegance of their descriptions, dazzle you with wordplay and imagination, quicken your pulse and heart in equal measure, blindside you with sudden laughter or even more sudden tears, make you shake your head in wonder at their perfect dialogue, write a fight or battle scene so vivid that you feel every punch and explosion, scare you so bad that you sleep with the lights on. Joe Lansdale can and does do all those things. But he has something that rare even among the very best writers—he’s a natural born storyteller. A couple pages into a Lansdale novel, and you’re sitting around a campfire on a dark summer night somewhere in East Texas, listening to magic being conjured from the smoke, or parked on a barstool in Nagadoches, throwing back a beer while a master spins a yarn. When I tell you the Moon Lake is Lansdale operating at the height of his considerable powers, that’s really saying something. This one is special. Moon Lake has all the hallmarks of classic Lansdale. A small East Texas town lost, along with its secrets, beneath the dark surface of Moon Lake—at least until a drought once again brings those secrets to light. a stubborn man who comes back to that Lake looking for answers to a question that’s been plaguing him for years…why did his dad try to kill them both by driving into the lake when he was thirteen years old? There’s a hard-nosed, in-your-face meditation on class and race, on haves and have nots, on the corrupting, amoral influence of power. There’s small town politics and small town life, and Lansdale writes both with a knowing eye for detail. Because this is Lansdale, the characters, both the good guys and the bad, are complex, thoughtful creations. They have back stories. There’s a real sense of history here, which makes sense, as Moon Lake spans years. Also because this is Lansdale, we’re treated to a breakneck plot, action that will indeed quicken your pulse, and scenes to veer hard towards straight-up horror. Some of the dialogue and descriptive passages are laugh out loud funny. Lansdale has a gift for down-home, yet creative language that hums and gallops. He even throws a little forbidden love into the mix, and makes it sweet and tender. The Hap and Leonard books will always be my favorite of Lansdale’s works, ever since I found a used copy of Mucho Mojo at Half Price Books. (On that same trip I discovered Shella, my first Andrew Vachss novel. That was a first-class shopping trip.) But Moon Lake is right up there for me, on the same shelf with The Bottoms, The Thicket, Edge of Dark Water, and Jane Goes North. I’m happy to see that Moon Lake is getting a lot of much-deserved positive press. Joe Lansdale his ownself is a national treasure. If he ever makes his way to Cleveland, I owe him a whole keg of beer for the years of reading pleasure he’s given me.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Roger

    I have been looking forward to Moon Lake for months-having a new Joe Lansdale novel to read makes me happy. This volume is a stand alone, so it is a good place for new readers to experience Joe's work. Moon Lake is pretty dark and sinister folks-you will have to look elsewhere for a Hollywood ending. Good stuff. I have been looking forward to Moon Lake for months-having a new Joe Lansdale novel to read makes me happy. This volume is a stand alone, so it is a good place for new readers to experience Joe's work. Moon Lake is pretty dark and sinister folks-you will have to look elsewhere for a Hollywood ending. Good stuff.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    Well, I was only going to read a few pages as I had several other books going at this time, but from the first page I could not put it down. The art of storytelling at its best. At times it may have felt like a “tall tale” but that just added to the magic. Thanks Joe!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    I loved the first part of the book the most. I think I was hoping this book would be like The Thicket or Edge of Dark Water (two of my favorites by Joe R. Lansdale). This action-adventure turned out to be a tall tale with lots of fighting, some loving, some horror and some laughs. There are lots of mysteries in here, nasty-ass racism (set in 1978 East Texas) and the most disgusting political corruption I've ever come across. Satisfying read. I loved the first part of the book the most. I think I was hoping this book would be like The Thicket or Edge of Dark Water (two of my favorites by Joe R. Lansdale). This action-adventure turned out to be a tall tale with lots of fighting, some loving, some horror and some laughs. There are lots of mysteries in here, nasty-ass racism (set in 1978 East Texas) and the most disgusting political corruption I've ever come across. Satisfying read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Moon Lake by Joe R. Lansdale is an atmospheric Southern mystery set in West Texas during the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Daniel Russell has been an orphan since his father drove into Moon Lake and his mother walked out on the family. Daniel was in the car with his dad but he was rescued by Veronica “Ronnie” Candles. He lived for a brief time with her family which caused a bit of an uproar since he is white and they are Black. After his mother’s sister is located, he lives with her through the rest of his Moon Lake by Joe R. Lansdale is an atmospheric Southern mystery set in West Texas during the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Daniel Russell has been an orphan since his father drove into Moon Lake and his mother walked out on the family. Daniel was in the car with his dad but he was rescued by Veronica “Ronnie” Candles. He lived for a brief time with her family which caused a bit of an uproar since he is white and they are Black. After his mother’s sister is located, he lives with her through the rest of his teen years. Now in his mid-twenties, Daniel learns his father’s remains have been found. And intriguingly, there are also bones in the trunk of his father’s car. Daniel returns to his childhood hometown of New Long Lincoln in hopes of finding out who the bones belong to. Daniel is surprised to discover Ronnie is now the lone Black and female police officer. Chief Dudley is in charge of the local police department and he is quite solicitous with Daniel. While Daniel accepts the bones inside the car are his father’s, he insists the bones in the trunk do not belong to his mother. She had gone missing before his dad drove them into Moon River. With Moon River dried up due to drought, Daniel and Ronnie decide to explore Moon Lake, which is also an old town that was flooded to create the lake.  They also find other cars and a rather grisly discovery. Someone makes it obvious to Daniel that he is not welcome in Long Lincoln. He is not one to take kindly to threats or physical violence so when newspaper owner Christine Humber offers him a job, Daniel agrees to write a few pieces about the town. Deciding to look deeper into New Long Lincoln’s history, Daniel uncovers shocking corruption and a horrific legacy that stretches back through a few generations. With the help of Ronnie, his temporary landlady, a kindly tow truck operator, and the town’s loner, will Daniel unearth the truth about what has been occurring in Long Lincoln? With slight horror elements, Moon Lake is a riveting mystery with a unique voice and clever storyline. Daniel is tenacious as he tries to find out exactly what has been going on in New Long Lincoln. The plot is intriguing and does not downplay the underlying racism in the small Texas town. , Joe R. Lansdale brings this engaging story to an adrenaline-laced conclusion.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    Joe R Lansdale breaks all the boring rules without ever feeling undisciplined or self-indulgent. Assuming that I get my full life expectancy, I will at some point have read all of his books. Moon Lake is an example of my favorite lansdale mood. A fair bit of nostalgia with a little bit of mad and a whole lot of that-ain't-right-and-imma-fix-it. Mystery layers over mystery, and there's even a non-irritating amount of true love story in there. Those who read my reviews know that I generally abhor pu Joe R Lansdale breaks all the boring rules without ever feeling undisciplined or self-indulgent. Assuming that I get my full life expectancy, I will at some point have read all of his books. Moon Lake is an example of my favorite lansdale mood. A fair bit of nostalgia with a little bit of mad and a whole lot of that-ain't-right-and-imma-fix-it. Mystery layers over mystery, and there's even a non-irritating amount of true love story in there. Those who read my reviews know that I generally abhor purple writing, but Lansdale can really turn a phrase. And, as in landscape gardening, there is a good amount of purple that gives punch, and that is precisely the balance between purple passages and solid workmanship that you will find in this book. It bears mentioning that Mr. Lansdale was anti racist way before it became a talking point. I cite the Hap and Leonard relationship as an easy line of examples to prove this assertion. The approach to race in this book, though, feels much more personal than I have seen before. The book is lyrical when the relationships work and quietly horrifying when they do not. Actually, this is a Lansdale book, so the horror gets a little bit loud sometimes. But never is it self-indulgent and never is it dull. Read this book. Then read the rest of them. This guy is great.

  26. 4 out of 5

    John Bruni

    Another excellent Lansdale book. This time out a young man barely survives when his father drives them both into a lake where once there had been a small town. The young man grows up to become a journalist, and when he hears his father's car has finally been recovered, he goes home only to discover he still has feelings for his childhood sweetheart, he can easily get a job on the local paper (useful because the one he worked for just went out of business) and his father's car contains more bones Another excellent Lansdale book. This time out a young man barely survives when his father drives them both into a lake where once there had been a small town. The young man grows up to become a journalist, and when he hears his father's car has finally been recovered, he goes home only to discover he still has feelings for his childhood sweetheart, he can easily get a job on the local paper (useful because the one he worked for just went out of business) and his father's car contains more bones than just his father's . . . Getting to the bottom of this weird mystery--and it gets very weird--is a lot of great violent fun. As you like it! I couldn't help but think of Frankie Faison while reading about Mr. Candles. It just felt right. And I kinda thought about Donald Trump, Jr., when reading about Jack, Jr. Except while Donnie Jr might just be as evil as Jack, he's nowhere near as strong and intimidating as the garrote champion of this book. And hey, wait until you meet Johnny Creosote . . . As always, I highly recommend this Lansdale book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chrystal Hays

    Joe Lansdale is prolific, as the rather pointless blurb from Tom Nolan of the Wall Street Journal points out on the cover (I can only assume that was selected as a kind of in joke by the wry author himself, since he has a virtual library of reviews from which to choose). Of his genres, the Southern Gothic set in East Texas has to be my favorite. Lost Echoes was the first novel read by him (plenty of his short work had meandered through anthologies I devoured), and I was hooked. Moon Lake stands Joe Lansdale is prolific, as the rather pointless blurb from Tom Nolan of the Wall Street Journal points out on the cover (I can only assume that was selected as a kind of in joke by the wry author himself, since he has a virtual library of reviews from which to choose). Of his genres, the Southern Gothic set in East Texas has to be my favorite. Lost Echoes was the first novel read by him (plenty of his short work had meandered through anthologies I devoured), and I was hooked. Moon Lake stands alone, but has everything it needs to grab a reader and not so much draw as yank one in to the world in which it resides. The primary setting is a time I lived through (late 1970s), but don't think for a minute that this will make the work unrelatable. If you are alive in 2021, you can relate. No spoilers, just high praise. Good enough for reading in one day, but not a short work. Read June 24, 2021 with dogs and sunshine and the calls of crows in Oak Cliff

  28. 4 out of 5

    Judy Pancoast

    It’s the rare writer that can suck you into his world from the very first page, entrance you until you realize you’ve been sitting there reading with your mouth open, and make your heart pound like a jackhammer for the last quarter of the book. Joe R Lansdale is that writer. He can make you laugh and gross you out while breaking your heart, and he goes places other authors only wish they dared to tread. I’m not gonna rehash the plot- just read it. I guarantee you’ve never read another story like It’s the rare writer that can suck you into his world from the very first page, entrance you until you realize you’ve been sitting there reading with your mouth open, and make your heart pound like a jackhammer for the last quarter of the book. Joe R Lansdale is that writer. He can make you laugh and gross you out while breaking your heart, and he goes places other authors only wish they dared to tread. I’m not gonna rehash the plot- just read it. I guarantee you’ve never read another story like it. And if you’re lucky, the gods will make it pour down rain while you’re reading the last few chapters. We avid readers are so lucky we live in a world with Joe Lansdale.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    Well written by a Texan & an author that tells a great story - is a page turner- set in a small East Texas town mystery thriller - stand alone novel - romance, murder, family, secrets of a small town ruled by a few!!!!!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    Looking forward to 2021!

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