The Thicket

Mulholland: Little, Brown. Sept. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780316188456. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316248754.
OrangeReviewStarThe Parkers are a moderately successful family of East Texas dirt farmers in the early 1900s, until the parents are struck down by smallpox and the children, Jack and Lula, start on a cross-country trek to Kansas with their grandpa. At the Sabine River ferry, a second tragedy strikes when a band of outlaws kill Grandpa and kidnap 14-year-old Lula. Jack follows their trail, determined to rescue his sister. As he makes his way deeper into outlaw territory, Jack puts together as unlikely a band of anti-outlaw ruffians as ever graced the pages of a novel. A midget sharpshooter, a half-breed tracker and his pet hog, an escapee from a house of prostitution, a renegade sheriff and part-time bounty hunter—each joins the quest, puts his/her life on the line, and shares a personal story in the bargain.
VERDICT Lansdale (Edge of Deep Water) offers up a coming-of-age Western adventure as captivating as the best of Larry McMurtry and written in a style reminiscent of Mark Twain. With intriguing, sometimes bumbling characters and storytelling laced with bravado, good humor, action, and heart, all set in the wilds of Texas during the early days of the oil boom, this title cannot help but captivate readers.
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