Lansdale tells the story of Deel Arrowsmith, a soldier who returns home to East Texas from the Great War, to find a wife who thought he must have died, a son who’s never really known him, and a life from which he is now impossibly distanced. Haunted by memories of his wartime experiences, Deel struggles to fit back into his old world.

The portrait of Deel in Texas is carefully observed, and I appreciate the parallels that Lansdale establishes between his protagonist’s two sets of experiences. But what makes the story ultimately come unstuck for me is that the narrative voice so suited to describing events in East Texas doesn’t draw me in to the wartime sequences, and that unbalances a tale whose success depends on its equilibrium.

Rating: ***

Joe R. Lansdale’s website