This full-on noir-vella is a perfect introduction to the brutally authentic, bitterly bloody writing of Joe R Lansdale. Apparently, he was asked to contribute something seriously hard-boiled to an anthology, and he came up with this fast paced tale of gangland revenge. You know exactly where it’s going within a couple of pages, the pitch-perfect banger banter making it absolutely clear that the opening act of senseless violence is only the start. And it’ll lead to an inevitable end.
Where some authors would take ten chapters to describe the past history of each character and every rock they ever kicked along life’s rough roads, JRL creates living, breathing, bleeding and stinking people with a few deft sentences. This is an edge-of-your-seat story. It’s only going in one direction but every page pulls you along to the inevitable conflict: a moment of vengeance which is almost as senseless as the event which first inspired it. And finally, a possibility of redemption. Or perhaps nothing more than silence…
Some whole novels manage to achieve less than this in 400 or more pages. In three or four scenes, Bullets and Fire vividly brings to life a young man; his brother, their aspirations, their family. Then it rips these ordinary people apart in an entirely credible fashion. If you’re dithering about whether to read any of LJR’s full-length fiction, then this will help you make up your mind about spending a few dollars. (I did.)
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Bullets and Fire by Joe R Lansadle is available as an ebook