Created by Joe R. Lansdale
“I do a little detective stuff now and then for folks I know, folks that recommended me to others. I don’t have a license. Black folks couldn’t get a license to shit broken glass in this town. But I was pretty good at what I did. I learned it the hard way. And not all of it was legal.”
A down-but-not-quite out not quite private eye, RICHARD, doesn’t have much: “a couple of nice suits, some two-tone shoes, a hat, and a gun–a .45 caliber automatic.” But he soon gets into a world of trouble, when a former lover, Alma May, a prostitute and “one fine dark-skin woman,” asks for his help in “The Bleeding Shadow,” in a town where “Black people couldn’t get a license to shit broken glass.”
It’s a nasty little short story, alright, set in the South back in the forties that steps without much fuss over into the horror genre. Sure, it owes a lot to Chandler, but there’s a lot of Lovecraft in here, too.
It seems Alma May’s brother, Tootie, a hard-living blues musician, has struck a deal with the devil that makes Robert’s Johnson’s legendary trade-off look like a bargain. We’re talking some seriously bad stuff here, but the complicated relationship between Richard and Alma May has some real bite to it, amidst “real” world setting powerfully rendered. Let’s hope that Lansdale, who’s given us some primo, non-supernatural crime fiction over the years returns to this setting.
Richard–whatever the hell his last name is—is a character I’d love to meet again…
But then, Joe R. Lansdale is, not to put too fine a point on it, one of the great storytellers of our time, a two-fisted gonzo writer who’s never met a genre whose ass he couldn’t kick. He’s written over thirty novels and countless short stories, and has written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and Internet sites. He has edited or co-edited over a dozen anthologies, and has received the Edgar Award, eight Bram Stoker Awards, the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Grinzani Cavour Prize for Literature, the Herodotus Historical Fiction Award, the Inkpot Award for Contributions to Science Fiction and Fantasy, and many others. He is Writer In Residence at Stephen F. Austin State University, and is the founder of the martial arts system Shen Chuan: Martial Science and its affiliate, the Shen Chuan Family System. He is a member of both the United States and International Martial Arts Halls of Fame. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas with his wife and assorted critters..
Fans of this site ought to check out some of Lansdale’s other P.I., including his 1998 collection, Private Eye Action As You Like It…, Jim Bob Luke and, of course, his Hap Collins & Leonard Pine series, one of crime fiction’s truly great odd couples.
- I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts
A listing of fantasy & occult eyes. Suffice it to say that we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore…