Hap and Leonard, the East Texas duo of two-fisted do-gooders, return in the ninth novel about their adventures.
The pair has always functioned as an odd mixture of shamuses, handymen, guardian angels, and no-nonsense fixers. The comedy comes from the comfortable tension between this mismatched pair of best friends—Hap, the white, liberal former draft dodger always advocating for a reasonable solution, and Leonard, the black, gay, Republican ex-Marine. In this outing, Hap’s squeeze, Brett, tired of being a nurse, takes over ownership of a local detective agency and puts her beau and his buddy to work. A crusty old woman engages them to track down the niece she hasn’t seen in five years. The investigation begins with a luxury car dealership, which may be a front for a prostitution ring, and proceeds into some truly dark territory involving an inbred gang of backwoods assassins. The series has a temperamental connection to the comic thriller as practiced by the likes of Carl Hiaasen and the late masters Ross Thomas and Donald E. Westlake, what with the tangled multithread plots and the constant wiseass banter. But they're also a good deal bloodier, and events have the potential to turn out much worse than you feared. At times, Hap natters on too much with his bid for a pacifist solution; it’s well-intentioned but disingenuous because there are bad people who need killing in these books. But the camaraderie and down-home scatology carry the day.
Let’s hope there’s more of that good feeling to come in this terrific series.