A search for a missing girl is the spark that sets off the fireworks in the latest noir adventures of the Texas investigators Hap and Leonard.
The comic volatility of Hap and Leonard's partnership is that they are, respectively, white-black, straight-gay, liberal-conservative. This new installation begins with Hap and his longtime girlfriend, Brett, who also happens to own the detective agency he and Leonard work for, getting hitched and throwing a backyard barbecue by way of celebration. The party is interrupted by unwelcome visitors, a skinny young white supremacist and his ailing mother. It seems their respective sister and daughter has gone missing, and they want Hap to find her. After becoming disconcerted to learn that Leonard is not the boy who cleans up but will be an equal partner in the search, they nonetheless agree to hire the pair for the job. The search takes Hap and Leonard to Hap's small Texas hometown, which, he is disturbed to learn, is being slowly bought up by a slick white supremacist leader who sends his thugs, some of them Hap's old high school acquaintances, to keep tabs on the pair's every move. By now the Hap and Leonard series has settled into an odd mixture of brutality and sentimentality. You can be sure, for instance, that a pit bull used for fighting purposes will be spirited away in the middle of the night to a more loving home, where his happy inner-canine slob can flourish. You can also be sure that, particularly if Leonard has anything to do with it, revenge will be meted out without a trace of pity or regret. This entry feels a mite quick, even its volatility managed and thus kind of a safer bet than the earlier entries. But it remains a companionable, enjoyable, and profane series.
Familiarity has worn down the edge in this series, but its pleasures are still welcome.