Hap and Leonard go south of the border, and there hasn’t been a trip to Mexico end this badly since The Wild Bunch. As Warren Zevon once sang, they'llHap and Leonard go south of the border, and there hasn’t been a trip to Mexico end this badly since The Wild Bunch. As Warren Zevon once sang, they'll need lawyers, guns, and money to get out of this fix.
The guys have new careers as security guards at the local chicken processing plant. As Hap is leaving work one night he breaks up an attack on a young woman by a drug crazed maniac. (The fight scene is Lansdale at his best. I didn’t know whether to laugh or scream as I read it.) Usually good deeds don't go unpunished, but this time Hap is actually rewarded for his heroics with some cash and time off work so he decides to treat Leonard to a sea cruise.
Unfortunately, with their usual knack for trouble, things go badly at one of the cruise stops in Mexico, and they end up as the victims of a machete wielding gang of muggers. And since Hap & Leonard can always make a bad situation worse, they find a way to get thrown in a Mexican jail. They get out with a little help from their friends, and for once, they try to do the smart thing and return to the U.S. without getting further involved. But trouble follows them home and costs them dearly.
This was the last Hap and Leonard novel that Lansdale wrote for 8 years until the publication of Vanilla Ride, and it feels like he may have been a bit burnt out on the series. While there’s always been a bit of a melancholy tone to the H&L books, this one has several elements that are more depressing that the other ones. The humor is still there, but the guys seem worn out and sick of getting pulled into their violent adventures. Lansdale would write a lot of very good books during the break he took from Hap and Leonard, and the two would return refreshed and lively again in the next one so that makes me feel better about Captains Outrageous because I thought for years that it may have been the end of the series.
On a trivia note: Crime fiction fans might recognize the character of the lawyer Veil as Lansdale’s tribute to his friend and fellow crime writer Andrew Vachss. It’s a fun little cameo. You gotta love a lawyer with an eye patch. ...more
Hap Collins and his friend Leonard Pine seem like pure east Texas rednecks in a lot of ways. They have crappy jobs working in rose fields, shoot clayHap Collins and his friend Leonard Pine seem like pure east Texas rednecks in a lot of ways. They have crappy jobs working in rose fields, shoot clay pigeons with their shotguns, drive worn out piece-of-shit vehicles, raise hunting dogs and listen to country music. But Leonard is black and gay, and Hap is a former damn dirty hippie who got sent to prison for refusing his induction notice during Vietnam as a protest against the war. So they aren’t exactly the Dukes of Hazard.
Years after his prison stay ended his marriage, Hap’s ex-wife Trudy still likes to come around regularly to break his heart all over again. Trudy is another former flower child who still thinks she can change the world while Hap’s time in prison took care of all his idealistic notions. When Trudy shows up again, she’s got a new proposal for Hap.
Trudy and some other old damn dirty hippies have gotten a lead on a lot of cash from a bank robbery that was believed lost. They think it’s in a sunken boat in an remote river area that Hap grew up in. Trudy wants Hap’s help, and Hap insists on cutting Leonard in, too. But both have second thoughts when they meet the old radicals they’ll be working with. Still convinced that they can revive the spirit of the ‘60s, they want the money for their pet causes while Hap and Leonard just want to be able to stop working in the rose fields.
Joe Lansdale is one of the funniest guys I’ve ever read, and he really knows about rural living and the redneck lifestyle. Every time I read one of his books, I feel like I’m sitting on a front porch in my old hometown while listening to some entertaining story teller spin a yarn about the trouble that some idiot good old boys got themselves into. The series is profane, politically incorrect, violent, and hilarious. Lansdale created a couple of my all-time favorite characters in Hap and Leonard. ...more
When Hap goes to spend Christmas Eve with his friend Leonard, he finds that Leonard’s idea of a Yule log is burning down the neighborhood crack house.When Hap goes to spend Christmas Eve with his friend Leonard, he finds that Leonard’s idea of a Yule log is burning down the neighborhood crack house. Since this is the third time Leonard has torched it, the cops are a little miffed even though he always pulls the drug dealers out of the fire. Police lieutenant Hanson offers to help get Leonard off the hook for his pyromania if the guys will look for his girlfriend, Florida, who has gone missing while poking around the story of the relative of a legendary bluesman who allegedly committed suicide while in jail.
There’s a couple of problems with this request. Florida disappeared in Grovetown, a racist hotbed of Klan-like activity that probably didn’t like a black female lawyer looking into what seems to be a classic civil rights violation. Grovetown surely won’t appreciate a guy like Leonard, who is black and gay and more than willing to fight anyone who has a problem with it. Plus, Florida dated Hap before breaking his heart to take up with Hanson so he isn’t thrilled about potentially getting killed while looking for her.
But Hap and Leonard never saw a bucket of crap they wouldn’t willingly step into so they’re off to Grovetown, which turns out to be the biggest cracker hellhole imaginable. Hap and Leonard are tough, but can they take on an entire town?
Another great entry in the Hap & Leonard series, Lansdale started to really explore the guys’ complex relationship to violence. Hap and Leonard aren’t scared of a fight and can usually hold their own, but their adventures are starting to take a serious toll on their bodies and their psyches. Lansdale has a knack for making violence and its aftermath seem genuine and horrifying while not getting bogged down in faux angst about it. ...more
This book features the pistol whipping of a little person, the rescue of an armadillo from a gun dealer, a fight in a whore house, the amputation of aThis book features the pistol whipping of a little person, the rescue of an armadillo from a gun dealer, a fight in a whore house, the amputation of a foot via shotgun, redneck pimps, arguments caused by dirty underwear, prairie dogs being sucked out of their holes by a glorified vacuum cleaner and a really good steak ranchero.
Yep. It’s another Joe Lansdale novel.
Hap’s girlfriend Brett is contacted by a couple of murderous pimps from Oklahoma who claim that her daughter, a prostitute, is in trouble. Hap volunteers to help Brett find her, and Leonard reluctantly comes along to watch their backs. Hap hopes to locate and grab Brett’s daughter before any big trouble can get started, but as usual, when Hap and Leonard try to do a good deed things get bloody in a hurry.
This is one of the more violent entries in the series, and it kicked off a depressing tone that would last through the next book. Lansdale always showed the cost of violence on Hap and Leonard, but this is one adventure that takes a serious toll on the guys. ...more
Hap returns home from working a gig on an oil rig and is promptly attacked by a rabid squirrel. Thanks to crappy insurance and a grumpy doctor he hasHap returns home from working a gig on an oil rig and is promptly attacked by a rabid squirrel. Thanks to crappy insurance and a grumpy doctor he has to stay in the hospital in order to get his rabies shots paid for. While Hap is left to the mercy of the American health care system his best friend Leonard has been having problems with his boyfriend, Raul. Raul has been two-timing him with a biker, and it’s made Leonard so angry that he’s doing crazy things like beating the biker with a broom handle and shooting up bars and motorcycles. When the biker turns up dead and Raul is missing, Leonard is naturally the prime suspect.
But it isn‘t all bad news. Hap has met a hot foul-mouthed red-headed nurse named Brett, and they’ve taken a shine to each other. Once upon a time, Brett dealt with an abusive ex-husband by hitting him in the head with a shovel and setting his hair on fire. Hap may have found true love.
This was the first book by Lansdale I ever read and with the opening chapter that details the squirrel attack on Hap, I laughed so hard that I thought I did myself permanent injury. I knew then that I was going to a Joe Lansdale fan for life, and he hasn’t let me down since. This is probably still my favorite Hap & Leonard novel. Like the others books, it’s obscene, violent, politically incorrect and one of the funniest things you’ll ever read....more
My favorite rednecks, Hap & Leonard, can’t do anything without it turning into bloody mayhem. Leonard’s Uncle Chester helped raise him, but then cMy favorite rednecks, Hap & Leonard, can’t do anything without it turning into bloody mayhem. Leonard’s Uncle Chester helped raise him, but then coldly disowned him when Leonard told him he was gay. However, after Chester dies, he leaves Leonard his house and a decent sum of money.
Leonard never really got over the way Chester reacted to his coming out, and when the house turns out to be in terrible shape, he wants to live in it to relive a bit of his childhood while he fixes it up to get it ready to sell. Since it’s a bad part of town with a crack house next door, he asks Hap to help out and keep him company. When they make a horrible discovery underneath the floorboards, the guys get sucked into a murder mystery that the cops are ready to pin on Chester posthumously. Leonard doesn’t buy it and is determined to clear his uncle’s name. But they’ll have to do it while feuding with the neighborhood crack dealers.
I’ve seen many Lansdale fans declare this the best of the Hap and Leonard books, and it’s tough to argue with that. (Bad Chili is probably my favorite.) There’s the hilarious politically incorrect dialogue mixed with horrific violence and terrible tragedy. One thing that stands out for me on this one is the nice role reversal Lansdale did here. Since most of the story takes place in a black part of town, Hap is the minority and he often feels out of place, especially while navigating a romance with a black woman who is a little ashamed of dating a white guy.
I always enjoy Hap and Leonard’s sociological debates, too. The bleeding heart, ex-hippie Hap can’t help but make excuses for people, no matter what they’ve done. The black and gay Leonard is always hilarious in his hard-hearted arguments that everyone is responsible for what they become no matter what happens in their past, and he has zero sympathy for anyone that doesn’t meet his standards. ...more
The last ten years have mutated my views on religion. I went from a vague agnostic live-and-let-live attitude to a full blown distrust and dislike ofThe last ten years have mutated my views on religion. I went from a vague agnostic live-and-let-live attitude to a full blown distrust and dislike of mass worshipping of mysterious deities. When it wasn’t being used as an excuse to murder people who believed different things, then it was being used to deny basic scientific concepts or prevent consenting adults from marriage based on gender. Overall, I’d become convinced that humanity was far too stupid to use religion as anything but yet another system to justify telling someone else how to live.
So naturally, one of my favorite novels of the last ten years is a funny and touching book about the life of Jesus.
Yeah, it was that kind of decade.
The story is told by Jesus’s best friend, Biff. Actually, Biff quickly explains that Jesus was known as Josh back in the days when they were kids in Nazareth. Biff knows there is something special about Josh from the moment they meet, and he adopts a life-long role of dealing with the practical matters that the naive Josh tends to overlook. When teen-aged Josh decides to track down the wise men who attended his birth to see what they can teach him about how he should become the Messiah, Biff knows he has to go along to protect Josh from an evil world.
Together, they travel across Asia, invent sarcasm, learn alchemy, discover coffee and become kung fu experts as Josh prepares himself to one day return home and fulfill his ultimate destiny.
It’s no surprise that Christopher Moore could write a very funny book about the life of Jesus. What is surprising that he’s able to make it so touching that even a cynical non-believer such as myself could be moved by it. By focusing in on the basic love-thy-neighbor concepts that Josh fiercely preaches, Moore wrote a warm reminder of what Christianity is supposed to be about. ...more