Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hap & Leonard Ride Again

Honky Tonk Samurai Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R. Lansdale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hotdog crap fries! Hap and Leonard are back!

You’ve never heard the expression ‘hotdog crap fries’ before? That’s because it’s my new favorite exclamation after misreading this line in the book: ”Some summers it’s so hot dog crap fries on the sidewalk.” For a minute there I thought Sonic was really scraping the bottom of the barrel for new menu ideas…

But aside from that little misunderstanding it was great to get a new adventure with a couple of my favorite rednecks just in time for the premiere of their new TV show. The guys are trying to do a little quiet surveillance work for their private detective gig when they witness a dog being beaten by an abusive owner. After a much deserved ass kicking is delivered Hap has a new dog, but as usual their best intentions have unintended consequences when this leads to them getting a new client, an elderly woman who wants to hire them to look for a granddaughter who stole her money and went missing years before.

The trail leads to a car dealership that is offering a lot more than easy financing, and as usual Hap & Leonard soon find themselves at odds with various dangerous people including a biker gang. They’re also warned that the people they’re dealing with may use the services of a mysterious hitman who likes to remove the testicles of his victims.

While I always enjoy reading this series I’d found the last several books less than fully satisfactory. A large part of this was because Vanilla Ride and Devil Red were on the thin side, and the next two after that were just novellas that clocked in about a 100 pages each. This time out Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe Lansdale provides a full 340 pages of Hap & Leonard doing their thing, and it felt like finally getting a full meal after having to nibble on appetizers when you’re really hungry.

There’s all the usual factors that make for a great Hap & Leonard story with lots of humor, profanity filled crude dialogue, crazy characters, a mystery for the guys to bumble through, and plenty of threats to their well being. There's also a whole lot of violence in the form of beatings, gunfire, and the judicious use of a crowbar at one point.

Getting a full sized novel instead of a quickie also means there’s time for subplots, and we’re treated to Hap’s girlfriend Brett taking over the detective agency they work for, Leonard’s problems with his on-again-off-again boyfriend, and the appearance of a new character that promises a whole mess of new complications for Hap. There’s also the reappearance of some old friends that add a lot of spice and action to the whole adventure. (view spoiler)

Overall, this ended up being a return to form for the series, and I’d say it's the best book featuring Hap and Leonard since Bad Chili. Now I can settle back with a big order of hotdog crap fries and watch the TV show.

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