Right before and on through publication day, THINGS GET UGLY: THE BEST CRIME STORIES OF JOE R. LANSDALE enjoyed overwhelming positive reviews from a Lone Star Book Blog Tour.

*We’re a bit behind on getting some of these notices out (largely due to blog editor Rick coming down with covid. He’s all better now) but we’re trying to catch up.*

08/08/23Hall Ways BlogExcerpt
08/09/23The Clueless GentReview
08/09/23LSBBT BlogBONUS Stop
08/10/23The Book’s DelightReview
08/11/23Forgotten WindsReview
08/12/23Jennie ReadsReview
08/13/23The Real World According to SamReview
08/14/23It’s Not All GravyReview
08/15/23StoreyBook ReviewsReview
08/15/23Chapter Break Book BlogExcerpt
08/16/23Rox Burkey BlogReview
08/17/23Boys’ Mom ReadsReview

They combine horror, noir, and pulp-fiction. They will push you to the edge of your comfort zone, and leave you feeling a little squeamish. But good writing and good storytelling should provoke a reaction.

They are also BRILLIANT. Lansdale’s writing is vivid and visceral. Even when I was confronted by content I would not typically choose (the first entry in this collection, “The Steel Valentine” would require an entire page of entries at Does the Dog Die, if it were included there), I could not stop reading. The characters leap off the page, capture you in a strangle-hold, and do not let go until you’ve finished their story.


These short stories may not be fully enjoyed by everyone, but if you’re game to give this book a read and you have the thick skin to accept the innards at face value, I can say without any hesitation that you’ll enjoy it!

The Clueless Gent

Well crafted with a stiletto sharp wit, Lansdale carves up his victims with imaginative glee, dispatching them in the most horrific of manners. Hannibal could take lessons from this book.

The Book’s Delight

His stories are a complex mixture of coarse language, sex, and violence that makes any Quentin Tarantino film seem tame.

The stories in THINGS GET UGLY are graphic and fierce, yet surprising. This collection of stories combines dark noir and pulp fiction into snippets that transport readers into a realm of Joe’s mind and writing talent. Some of these stories push you to the edge of your comfort zone.

Forgotten Winds

Lansdale’s prose demonstrated an undeniable talent for crafting vivid and atmospheric settings, immersing readers into the murky underworld of crime. The stories are rife with unexpected twists and turns, successfully keeping the audience engaged throughout.

Jennie Reads
Things Get Ugly, cover by John Coulthart
Design by John Coulthart

THINGS GET UGLY is a versatile collection that lives up to its name. Readers, beware, but if this is your cup of tea – definitely pick it up. It’s a great study in how to approach crime stories in an untraditional way. It’s also an interesting study in how to turn innocuous inspiration into disturbing, demented tales. I give this book a Lone Star rating of ✯✯✯✯ stars, because it does exactly what it’s meant to do – and I can’t blame it for being effective at it’s goals!

The Real World According to Sam

There’s a reason that Joe Lansdale is considered one of the top writers of mystery, suspense, and horror working today. That’s because he’s one heck of a storyteller.

You don’t have to like the horror genre, or the explicit gore that often pops up in his suspense, to appreciate the scope of his talent. In fact, I’m a reader who doesn’t particularly care for horror or graphic violence, but I can recognize, and appreciate, craft that is used so well, and I’ve enjoyed several of Lansdale’s books before this one.

Lansdale doesn’t pull away from tough stuff. Not human depravity. Not graphic violence. Not graphic sex. But he presents that to the reader in stories that pull you in, along with characters not easily forgotten.

It’s Not All Gravy

I am not sure how I have never read anything by this author, but now that I have gotten a taste of his writing, there will be no turning back now!

I am generally not a crime story type of reader, but these short stories provide a twisted look at what could potentially happen if you let your imagination run wild. Take, for example, the story about a certain bear that many of us might remember from television commercials way back in the day to help prevent forest fires. Now take that same bear, and insert him into society as you would a human with a twisted sense of morality. The end result just might be this story.

I really enjoyed reading how he came up with the ideas for the stories. It gave me a sense of his thought process, but I by no means totally understand it! Writers are unique, and the stories they create will entertain or haunt us long after they are done.

StoreyBook Reviews

Mr. Landsdale brings readers along like a fly fisherman teasing the water, hoping for a nibble. Then he masterfully shifts direction, increases tension, and busts open doors to the unexpected. Each story depicts crimes, many heinous, sharing sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of the victim and the perpetrator. Things Get Ugly is the perfect title for this book as it shows the worst side of humankind in three-dimensional sensations far too realistic to be simply dark imagination.

These are the first works of Joe R. Lansdale I have read; each was executed perfectly. The tales are fast-paced, with realistic exchanges between characters. It was a bit darker than my norm and memorable as it prickled my spine with fear. These are works of a gifted imaginative creator who uses concise language to keep the story moving from page one to the unexpected end.

Rox Burkey Blog

Each story is a gem, telling an unfiltered and dark tale of human interaction. No punches are pulled, and there’s blood and gore and death. Their telling is riveting, and I couldn’t, nor wanted to, put the book down. From the first selection to the last, I was gripped by a desire for more and resented any interruptions to my reading. No, Joe hasn’t lost his touch.

I recommend THINGS GET UGLY to Lansdale fans and new readers who enjoy grittier, tougher tales of crime and the darker side of human relations.

Boys’ Mom Reads