No one currently working the field demonstrates more convincingly and joyously the deep affinity between pulp fiction and...

HAP AND LEONARD

Seven laid-back adventures, one of them brand new, for “freelance troubleshooter” and good old boy Hap Collins and his gay black Republican partner Leonard Pine.

As Michael Koryta notes in his celebratory introduction, salt-and-pepper heroes have been done to death, but Lansdale (Paradise Sky, 2015, etc.) keeps his duo fresh through their dialogue, which manages to sound both relaxed and inventive. The pair talk themselves through three long stories and four short ones. All the long ones are keepers. After Leonard wins a bar fight in “Hyenas,” one of the guys he’s beaten up hires him and Hap to extricate his brother from a gang that specializes in knocking over armored cars. In “Bent Twig,” Hap, initially without Leonard, goes looking for his lover Brett’s semi-kidnapped prostitute daughter, Tillie, who’s “tough as yesterday’s fajita meat.” An estranged wife hires the pair to beat up her fearsome soon-to-be-ex in “Dead Aim”; when someone takes even stronger measures against him, the boys are left holding the bag. The plotting throughout is no more than routine, but the uncovering of layer after layer of double crosses allows Hap and Leonard numerous opportunities to discourse about everything and nothing as Lansdale spins out his trademark redneck similes, the most pungent since Raymond Chandler. Three of the shorter stories go by in a flash: a remembrance of a 1978 “Death by Chili”; a bullied kid’s chilling final act in “The Boy Who Became Invisible”; and Hap’s earliest recollections of Leonard, another kid he’s just befriended, in “Not Our Kind,” the only new story here. Attorney Veil’s defense of Hap on charges of arson in “Veil’s Visit,” co-authored with Andrew Vachss, proves mainly that your best friends aren’t necessarily your best collaborators. The collection is rounded out with Lansdale’s reminiscences about chronicling the pair’s adventures, the author’s faux-interview of his heroes, and four black-and-white photos from the SundanceTV series.

No one currently working the field demonstrates more convincingly and joyously the deep affinity between pulp fiction and the American tall tale.

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61696-191-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Tachyon

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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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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POP GOES THE WEASEL

After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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