Joe R. Lansdale's latest novels seem to all feature recently orphaned kids being chased by, or chasing, someone. It seems like the last few novels may have been rough drafts for this almost perfect turn-of-the-century tale that bears more than a little resemblance to True Grit. Having left their pox-plague East Texas town with their grandfather, brother and sister Jack and Lulu Parker come across baddie CutThroat Pete and company who kill their grandfather and kidnap Lulu. Jack is left to rescue his sister and this is where the good stuff starts. The basically moral Jack is forced to ally with a midget, a son of a slave and a semi-wild hog, all seeming to have different ideas of morality than Jack. This idea of relative morality and "living in the real world" is prevalent throughout this novel and is what puts it above most thriller novels. Yet Lansdale populates his story with people who are not one-dimensional and seem to be always thinking about their plight. Even though there is the usual amount of action and violence you would expect from Lansdale, I say there might be more dialogue than usual in his tale, especially from Shorty, an educated gun-toting midget. He is the catalyst for the novel, presenting the fact and putting them in perspective but not always the way Jack would prefer. This is easily one of Lansdale's best novels.