With his parents falling victim to the plague, his grandfather murdered while crossing a river to seemingly greener pastures, and his 14yr old sister kidnapped by a ruthless gang of cutthroats, teenager Jack Parker faces adversity from all angles yet doesn’t succumb to it. Rather, he turns his pain and sufferance into determination on a quest for vengeance – one that not only looks to return his sister to safety, but also make his grandfathers’ murderers accountable.
Set in the early 1900’s, THE THICKET is Lansdale writing near perfect contemporary fiction. The sense of time and place is enveloping, the characters and their mannerisms wholly period-centric. While transporting to the reader to a dangerous time in American history, Lansdale also manages to capture the hearts and imagination of the reader by virtue of a great cast of characters with realistic personas and agendas.The young protagonist, Jack Parker, assembles a rough and ready band of misfits to track his sisters’ kidnappers while along way growing their group with some interesting and dynamic personalities. Spilling blood in the wake of an escape, one of the kidnappers’ leaves a bloody trail of menace which only serves to spur Jack on despite being seemingly unfit for such a violent confrontation should it come to ahead. Luckily, his bounty hunters are well equipped to handle such situations.
There is so much to like about THE THICKET but I’ll refrain for saying too much as to not spoil the plot and the formulation of Jack’s search party. Many of the characters will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book; Eustace and Shorty, as an example, are two of the most memorable fictional characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading, yet they are a mere sample of the quality of cast Lansdale as crafted for this novel.Without a doubt, THE THICKET (much like 2012’s EDGE OF DARK WATER) is one of my top reads for the year.