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A Bone Dead Sadness

A Bone Dead Sadness - Joe R. Lansdale This popped up as a recommendation in my Kindle app, and given that (a) I dig Joe Lansdale's fiction, (b) I hadn't heard of this story before, and (c) it was only 99 cents, I bought it. I found out afterward that this is a story Lansdale wrote to include in a reprint of Act of Love, and features Marvin Hanson many years after the events in that novel. It's also set many years after Marvin befriended Hap & Leonard, though they don't make an appearance in the story.

A Bone Dead Sadness starts with Marvin receiving an email from a local woman who wants him to investigate the disappearance of her son from twenty-five years before. The story is just that investigation, though Lansdale throws in some of his usual style to give it a little something more. It doesn't have the snappy dialogue one comes to expect from a Lansdale story; there's a hint of it when Marvin has a meeting with the Chief of Police, but most of his conversation is with his wife, with the mother, and with her daughter-in-law. There's not much room for his trademark dialogue, though that's not saying there's anything wrong with what is there. It's just not what one would expect from a Lansdale story.

The story is fine, and serviceable, though it's nothing spectacular. All the events take place in the past, so the story is all about interviewing people and hoping to put all the pieces together. If you pay attention to how Lansdale sets up the story, you'll figure out how it will end, but I didn't catch it myself. I think Lansdale sets up his stories craftily enough so the clues aren't obvious, but if you go into the story looking for clues, I think you'll figure it out.

I'd recommend this story for Lansdale completists, but other readers, including Lansdale fans, might want to give it a pass. It's a brief read (it took me an hour, tops, to breeze through it), and it's cheap, but there's better Lansdale fiction out there. If you just can't find anything else to read, though, then sure, give it a go. I've read worse stories, after all.