Joe R. Lansdale’s fast-paced COLD IN JULY is compelling, dark and twisted

The recent Particle Books digital release of Joe R. Lansdale’s acclaimed COLD IN JULY has renewed interest in the thriller.

For PAPER BLOG, Pamela Scott praises the novel.

I really enjoyed this book. I was hooked from the dramatic opening. The book is packed with twists and turns. I thought I knew where the plot was going and without warning everything is turned on its head when Dane realises certain things about the robbery and the police investigation don’t add up. The plot is compelling, dark and twisted: police corruption, bad guys versus good guys and snuff movies to name but a few. COLD IN JULY ended up a lot of places I wasn’t expecting. The book is dark at times but there is also a lot of humour as well. I had a great time reading it.

CHAR’S HORROR CORNER recommends the book.

I loved the characters in this book, most especially Jim Bob, a redneck expert in the martial arts, who drives a cherry red boat of a Cadillac, and is a private investigator. His down-home sayings were hilarious and it provided that twisted humor Lansdale is known for. I also loved how the story changed throughout and how the characters developed.


COLD IN JULY is a fast paced crime novel, with humor and horror mixed in as well as a well developed sense of honor. Set in LaBorde, a place Hap and Leonard fans will recognize, this is a Texas story, told by a Texan in the most entertaining way possible. I highly recommend it!

REEL BREW offers Double Shot: Killer Joe (2011) & Cold in July (2014).

The electric thermostat reads 93 degrees, which for New England is high enough to create one killer July. It’s also that time of the year when the summer humidity begins to weigh down on you like southern fried guilt, squeezing every ounce of sweat until there’s nothing but a worn out shell. Sounds melodramatic I know, but it’s a temperature so stifling it makes you want to curl up in front of a fan and dive into the cool heat of a neo-noir double feature. So in the lazy haze of the summertime heat, that’s exactly what I did, with William Friedkin’s Killer Joe and Jim Mickle’s Cold in July.


Few films take a barebones plot – lets say a crime laden revenge story – and a quarter of the way through, twist it into something else entirely. For whatever reason, films nowadays tend to offer what they’ve laid out in the trailers, hoping that you like what you see. With Cold in July – based off the 1989 novel of the same name by Joe R. Lansdale – audiences are shown a synth driven neo-noir set in 1980’s Texas, and before the 30 minute mark, everything sort of metamorphosis. It’s a rare glimpse into the malleability of genre filmmaking, but when executed with precision, it becomes one of the most electrifying and wondrous acts of movie making magic.


Rather than perfect the neo-noir genre, Jim Mickle and screenwriter Nick Damici contort their film into a much more inquisitive and often sensitive film. It’s one that prefers its chameleon skin over generic expectations with a story about those that push back against the law and the unlawful. And while Cold in July may seem like standard fare, it’s ultimately a film that knows that at the heart of genre filmmaking lies an appetite for the unconventional, where the ability to toy with expectation heightens the power of its storytelling.

LIFE BETWEEN THE FRAMES enjoys the movie.

So at first Cold in July seems like it’s going to be a thriller about Ben terrorizing the Dane family. That is what it is for a while, and Ben proves to be a capable threat, even managing to lurk inside the Dane house while it’s being watched by several police officers. Including one in the house with him. I was all set to watch this story play out, I was captivated… And then the film totally threw me for a loop and went off in a completely different direction. One that deepened the plot and widened the scope while still remaining very intriguing. Having not read the book, I did not expect the next hour of this film at all.

Scripted by Mickle and Nick Damici, Cold in July is a solid crime flick that was more than I expected. Along the way it even involves Don Johnson as a slick private investigator named Jim Bob Luke, which adds some more points to its score. Johnson has had some great roles lately, in projects like Machete, Django Unchained, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, Eastbound & Down, and Brawl in Cell Block 99, and this is another great one.

For more info about COLD IN JULY, visit the Tachyon page.

For more info about COLD IN JULY, visit the Tachyon

Cover design by Elizabeth Story