Walking an East Texas poultry plant as a security guard isn’t the stuff of joie de vivre, and for some time Hap Collins has been experiencing a pervasive and debilitating lassitude. Life is tasteless until fate takes a turn in Hap’s life when he’s in the right place to save a young girl from being beaten to death, earning the gratitude of her rich father. He also earns for himself and his faithful sidekick Leonard Pine (Freezer Burn, 1999, etc.) what’s billed as a Caribbean pleasure cruise. Alas, before the ship ever reaches the Caribbean, Leonard makes an enemy of an officious steward who thereupon arranges to have them both stranded in Mexico, where Leonard is beaten up and stabbed, and Hap becomes involved with a Mexican beauty of questionable character, a relationship leading to others ranging from dubious to deplorable. Somehow they manage to get out of Mexico alive, but just barely, and not permanently. When a close friend of Hap’s is mistaken for him and brutally murdered, he and Leonard return south of the border once more, heading a small vigilante party intent on hunting down the venomous gangster-murderer headquartered there, with one object in mind: violent and bloody payback.
Lansdale, winner of last year’s best-novel Edgar for The Bottoms, which gave Collins and Pine some time off, has certainly written more engrossing tales for his picaresque pair. Still, the trademark raunchiness is present in full measure, and even those fans who aren’t caught up in this adventure will probably find themselves grinning a lot.