Those charming miscreants Hap Collins and Leonard Pine are back (Vanilla Ride, 2009, etc.), minus some of the charm.
For newbies: Hap Collins is emphatically hetero, Leonard Pine unabashedly gay. Sexual preferences aside, they are close as clones, prone to refer to themselves as brothers. Currently, Hap and Leonard have time on their hands. Not unusual. The two are chronically under-employed, which might explain the inordinate amount of mischief and mayhem they’ve been responsible for over the course of seven previous novels. Soon they are given a mission to accomplish, assigned to them by old friend Marvin Hanson, owner and operator of a somewhat idiosyncratic private-detective agency. Local thugs have made the mistake of mugging the wrong elderly woman, relieving her of $88 and then, quite gratuitously, breaking her arm. Turns out that Mrs. Johnson is a friend of Marvin’s, hence the assignment. A bone for a bone, think Hap and Leonard, baseball bats at the ready. Money retrieved, justice rendered and assignment duly completed, Hap and Leonard are in line for another, this one more substantive, and—what with wannabe vampires, the Dixie Mafia, plus a very active serial killer—significantly more dangerous. Consider, for instance, that there’s a contract out on Hap, who happens to be in the throes of a sudden and inexplicable psychological meltdown. Debilitated by a mysterious attack of melancholia, he needs all the help he can get and can’t get any from Leonard, who for complicated reasons is out of the picture at the moment. Enter the cavalry—in the lissome form of a former enemy. Bad guys fall, body bags fill and unhappy Hap seems sanguine once more.
The question remains: Will a fan base built on blithe spirits take kindly to an unhappy Hap, enduring the angst of a midlife crisis?