Hap and Leonard by Joe R. Lansdale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hap and Leonard is a short story collection featuring Hap and Leonard. I'm going to chunk it up and review each piece separately. I'm pretty sure I've read most of the stories before but my memory isn't what it once was.
Introduction by Michael Kortya: I'm always interested in what one writer writes about another. Kortya echoes my feelings on Hap and Leonard and Joe Lansdale in general. He also refrains from spoiling the shit out of stories, which is growing increasingly rare in introductions.
Hyenas: After Leonard kicks the shit out of a trio of guys at a bar, one of them offers him a job. Can Hap and Leonard get the man's kid brother away from the bad crowd he's running with?
I could cheat and do a cut and paste job from my review of Hyenas but I won't. Hyenas is a novella length distillation of what Hap and Leonard books are normally like. Much like last time, my favorite line was "Brett thought it would be cute if we got matching guns with our initials on them."
Veil’s Visit: Leonard gets arrested for burning down the crack house next door again and Hap's friend Veil takes the case.
In this tale. Lansdale introduces Veil, a lawyer friend of Hap's that later makes an appearance in Captains Outrageous. Veil's backstory and defense of Leonard make for a memorable tale.
Death By Chili: Hap and Leonard tackle the mystery of a dead champion chili cook. Was it suicide or... murder?
This tale is mostly conjecture, peppered with Lansdale wit, and followed by Lansdale's own chili recipe.
Dead Aim: When their friend Marvin Hanson offers them a job, Hap, Leonard, and an axe handle Hap named Agnes find themselves putting the fear of God into a woman's abusive ex-husband. Things quickly prove to be much more complex than they originally thought.
Dead Aim was hilarious, as usual, but I thought it could have used more action. Also, the plot slithered all over the place.
The Boy Who Became Invisible: Hap recounts a tale of his youth, the tale of the boy everyone picked on.
The Boy Who Became Invisible is a powerful tale because it's all too believable and very relatable. I remembered the ending but it still hit pretty hard.
Not Our Kind: This tale chronicled an early encounter featuring a teenage Hap and Leonard and some bullies. The guys were cracking wise but things didn't go as they usually do.
Bent Twig: Brett's daughter is into drugs and hooking again and Hap goes looking for her.
Bent Twig is a tale of loyalty, both of Hap for Brett and Leonard toward Hap. The boys get into the usual shit storm, complete with jokes, and things are very satisfying.
Joe R. Lansdale Interviews Hap Collins and Leonard Pine: Lansdale interviews the dynamic duo. It's short, funny, and has the all too true line "It's the family you choose that counts."
Afterword by Joe R. Lansdale: Lansdale talks about the genesis of Hap and Leonard and writing the books, confirming that Hap is something of a stand-in for Lansdale himself.
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