Bad Chili by Joe R. Lansdale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A local biker is murdered and Leonard is the prime suspect. After being bit by a possibly rabid squirrel, Hap gets out of the hospital and starts investigating. Can Hap and Leonard escape a web of blackmail, murder, bikers, and less savory things?
My reread of the Hap and Leonard books I haven't written reviews for continues. In this, the fourth volume, Lansdale introduces a couple new characters to the Hap and Leonard mythos that will be important for years to come: Hap's hot nurse girlfriend Brett and Jim Bob Luke, the cockiest detective in the world. At least one long-running character makes his exit.
The case starts simple enough. A biker who'd been seen with Leonard's boyfriend is found shotgunned to death and all fingers point to Leonard, who goes on the lam. Hap tries to hide Leonard while figuring things out and steps in a hornet's nest of grease nappers and brutal videos of gay men getting raped.
This is the fourth Hap and Leonard book I've re-read and I'm continually shocked at how brutal the early tales were compared to the more recent ones. Even though the Lansdale humor is in full effect, I never get the feeling the guys are working with a safety net, a feeling common in series detective books.
As usual, the bad guys were pretty vile, although I wasn't sure who the true villains were for much of the book. Since I was a beardless young man the first time I read this, it was like reading a new book for the most part. The ending was pretty brutal, as a lot of Lansdale endings were in the early days. Uncle Joe sure doesn't mind putting his characters through the meat grinder.
The Hap and Leonard series continues to roll on, mojo style. Four out of five stars.
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