A Fine Dark Line by Joe R. Lansdale

A Fine Dark Line

  • Author: Joe R. Lansdale
  • Published: April 1st, 2003
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press
  • Rating: 4.5/5

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Goodreads synopsis 

It is the summer of 1958 in Dewmont, Texas, a town the great American postwar boom passed by. The kids listen idly to rockabilly on the radio and waste their weekends at the Dairy Queen. And an undetected menace simmers under the heat that clings to the skin like molasses… For thirteen-year-old Stanley Mitchell, the end of innocence comes with his discovery of the mysterious long-ago demise of two very different young women. In his quest to unravel the truth about their tragic fates, Stanley finds a protector in Buster Lighthorse Smith, a black, retired Indian-reservation cop and a sage on the finer points of Sherlock Holmes, the blues, and life’s faded dreams. But not every buried thing stays dead. And on one terrifying night of rushing creek water and thundering rain, an arcane, murderous force will rise from the past to threaten the boy in a harrowing rite of passage… Vintage Lansdale, A Fine Dark Line brims with exquisite suspense, powerful characterizations, and the vibrant evocation of a lost time.

My thoughts

This is my first book by Lansdale and I can assure you it won’t be the last.  I love this coming of age, mystery story it gave me a Stand by Me feel and I loved it. 

The story takes places in Dewmont, Texas in the late 1950s.  We follow Stanley Mitchell a very naïve 13 year old boy and his love Nub.  The family purchased a home that came with a drive in movie theater and Stanley helps out with some of the duties. One day Stanley was wandering in the back of the theater near the woods when he found a box that had some love letters, and after reading a few he decided to investigate the mystery surrounding these letters.  With the help of Buster a man of color that worked in the theater, he finds out a girl died during a fire and also, that another girl was murdered that same night so he spends the summer trying to find out how and why these young girls died.

Besides Stanley and Buster we get other side characters in the story that I really enjoyed, they all had their own sad story and make them even more likeable and lets not forget Nub the dog, yes I’m a sucker for good dogs.  Stanley had an older sister and they bicker a bit but adding her to the story was a nice touch.  In my opinion every character we were introduced to had their part in the story and I just like them all.  

This book had a slow start but after about a hundred pages it started to pick up and I just couldn’t put it down until I finished it.  I definitely got Stand by Me vibes, I love a good coming of age story and being that this story took place in the late 50s I can see why Stanley was portrait as a very naïve young boy it fits perfectly, I know this could be a turn off for some but I love Stanley so much, he was so pure I loved getting to see him grow.

if you like a good coming of age classic, likeable characters, murder mystery, and friendships this is the book for you.  

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