The emphasis on prequels to the partnership subordinates the trademark dialogue between Hap and Leonard, who doesn’t even...

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BLOOD AND LEMONADE

This companion volume to the second season of the Hap and Leonard TV series includes 14 flashbacks to the iconic Texas partners’ youth, eight of them new to print.

Most of the stories land working-class white Hap Collins in fights, and even before he first meets his gay black soul mate, Leonard Pine, when they’re both 17—a meeting chronicled in “Tire Fire”—most of the fights are about race. In the reprints, Hap turns on a school bully with the approval of his principal in “Parable of the Stick,” echoing his father’s legally sanctioned thrashing of the nonpaying customer who threatens him in “Apollo Red”; he declines to take part in a gang-not-quite-rape in the surprisingly delicate “Short Night,” witnesses the dark sequel to another school kid’s bullying in “The Boy Who Became Invisible,” accepts the help of Leonard’s uncle in still another fight in “Not Our Kind”—both of these last two familiar from Hap and Leonard (2016)—and bids an elegiac farewell to the world of his youth in the plotless envoi “The Oak and the Pond.” Hap’s father also takes featured roles in “Coach Whip,” in which he moralizes over Hap’s mother’s killing of a harmless snake; “The Bottom of the World,” in which he fulfills his young son’s request for a scary story in a touchingly comforting way; and “Squirrel Hunt,” in which he covers up the murder of a man who richly deserved it. The best of the new stories are “Stopping for Coffee,” in which a black man whose family is refused service at a roadside cafe finds unexpected allies and enemies; “In the River of the Dead,” in which drug dealers press Hap and Leonard into service diving to recover a chest full of stolen drugs lost among three family members they’ve shot to death; and “Blood and Lemonade,” in which Hap’s mother can’t resist some overexplicit preaching over an otherwise affecting episode in which she briefly takes home a forsaken black child only to be rebuffed by his mother.

The emphasis on prequels to the partnership subordinates the trademark dialogue between Hap and Leonard, who doesn’t even appear in half these stories, to self-serious moralizing over individually effective but highly repetitious tales.

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61696-253-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Tachyon

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more...

ECHO BURNING

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 5

Smashingly suspenseful fifth in Child’s series (Running Blind, 2000, etc.) lands this British author’s rootless, laconic action hero in southwest Texas, where a femme fatale lures him into a family squabble that inevitably turns violent.

In the kind of daylight-noir setting that Jim Thompson loved, ex-military cop Jack Reacher has his thumb out on a lonely west Texas highway when he’s picked up by Carmine Greer, the Mexican-American wife of bad-ol’-boy Sloop Greer. It seems that Sloop, elder son of a white-trash-turned-oil-rich ranching dynasty, is nearing the end of a prison term for tax evasion, and Carmine, whose body Reacher sees is marked with signs of physical abuse, wants Reacher to be her bodyguard—or, failing that, kill the man in such a way that Carmine can still hold on to her terminally cute six-year-old daughter Ellie. Reacher refuses but decides to meet the folks: Rusty, Sloop’s racist, charmless mother, and Bobby, Sloop’s stupid, pugnacious brother. Meanwhile, a trio of paid assassins is littering the Texas roadside with corpses, starting with Sloop’s lawyer, Al Eugene. In a set-piece as good as anything in Elmore Leonard, Bobby sends two ranch-hands to ambush Reacher at an Abilene roadhouse filled with 20 other cowboys spoiling for a fight. Reacher walks away without a scratch, telling Bobby that his hospitalized ranch-hands have “quit.” Child twists his increasingly hokey plot into a pretzel when Sloop is found dead and Carmine confesses to killing him. Reacher just can’t believe that Carmine is guilty and teams up with Alice Aarons, a leggy Jewish lesbian fresh out of law school, who trusts him with her car, her handgun, and her life.

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more holes in it than the shirt Reacher uses for target practice.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14726-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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