Joe R. Lansdale
Publisher: Muholland Books
Pub. Date: February 23, 2017
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
We are now to the 12th installment of the Hap and Leonard series by Joe R. Lansdale and they just don't seem to wearing out their welcome. If they were real I would invite them to every party I held. Hap and I seem to be kindred spirits in our cautious liberalism and Leonard would keep the party lively assuming he doesn't kick the ass of everybody else at the party. I would just have to be careful I didn't provoke him into his habit of indiscriminate urinating...But I digress.
The last couple of books were fun but there was signs of a formula showing through. That isn't in itself a bad thing. All mystery series have formulas. But if it starts to show too much it doesn't feel fresh. Rusty Puppy feels fresh. There may be a number of reasons for this. First, Lansdale has added a new character in the form of Hap's daughter Chance. While her role in this book is minor, she still gives Hap something to reflect on and reveal new sides of him. Then there was that very close shave with death in Honky Tonk Samurai. I don't think it's just me to think Hap is a little more cautious and aware of his mortality (and others) in this book. Leonard is still Leonard but that is what makes him a delight in every single novel
The basic idea here is that a black womanwho lives across the street persuades Hap to investigate the murder of her son. At first he and Leonard simply plan to question a potential witness who claims he saw the police kill her son. Of course it gets much more complicated as they come to task with corrupt cops, an old acquaintance of Leonard who once beat him in a boxing match ("By points" Leonard reminds everyone), a vindictive bartender, and a four hundred year old vampire midget (or maybe just a foul-mouthed little girl)
As for the varied and sundry things that show up in every Hap and Leonard novel that gives it uniqueness, everything fits like a brass knuckle. The Lansdale wit is there, the dialogue is as snappy as a Texas turtle, and minor characters like Marvin Hansen shines when the time comes.
Oh. And Leonard has a new boy friend from an unlikely source.
Rusty Puppy is one of the best in the series and proves that there is still plenty of life in the East Texas odd couple. If you are already into the series you will not be disappointed and if you are not...What's holding you back?