Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade

BLOOD AND LEMONADE, the latest collection of stories about Hap Collins and Leonard Pine – Lansdale’s odd but irresistible duo of East Texas crime-fighters – is a companion to both the Sundance TV series (which recently began its second season with an adaptation of MUCHO MOJO) and the previous story collection, HAP AND LEONARD, published last year. But two noticeable differences distinguish this latest collection.

For one, the stories trace the earliest days of the partnership; all the way back to when Hap first met Leonard in high school. Also, as Lansdale notes in his Afterword, this is more of a “mosaic novel” than the earlier collection. That is, the stories convey the life and theme of its characters with new passages (or this this case entire stories) added for necessary transitions – much like what Ray Bradbury did with THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES.

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Hap and Leonard

hapleonardThese are exciting times for fans of Hap and Leonard, the duo of unlikely East Texas buddies and crime fighters created by Joe R. Lansdale. The 13th novel of the series, HONKY TONK SAMURAI, was published last month. Early March saw the premiere of the Sundance Channel TV series, starring James Purefoy as Hap and Michael K. Williams as Leonard, and adapted from SAVAGE SEASON, the first novel of the series.

To mark the occasion, Lansdale has gathered together the short fiction and related writings about the pair in his latest collection titled, appropriately enough, HAP AND LEONARD.

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Rusty Puppy

RUSTY PUPPY, Joe R. Lansdale’s 10th Hap and Leonard novel, is another rough-and-tumble romp as the two unlikely friends and partners investigate the murder of a young black man and get caught up in a web of corruption and the lingering racism of their East Texas home.

Not long after being released from the hospital, where he was recovering from a near-fatal stab wound, Hap Collins, a self-proclaimed white-trash rebel, is approached by a black woman who lives across the street form the office were Hap works as a private investigator. The woman hires Hap and his partner, Leonard Pine, a gay, black Republican Vietnam vet, to find who killed her teenage son. Hap asks if the woman has consulted the local police – only to discover that the woman is certain the police are the ones who killed her son.

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Honky Tonk Samurai

honkytonkHap and Leonard are back! And for fans of Joe R. Lansdale that’s all they need know to immediately add HONKY TONK SAMURAI, Lansdale’s latest novel and the 13th title in the series, to the top of their “must read” list.

This new work assuredly reminds us of all we love about these two unlikely best friends and East Texas crime fighters, while involving them in one of the most intricate and dangerous adventures of the series.

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Memphis Ribs

memphisribsSouthern author Gerald Duff’s 1999 crime novel, MEMPHIS RIBS, is available again. So those who missed it the first time around can now acquaint themselves with Duff’s near-redneck but completely likable protagonist, J. W. Ragsdale.

Its May in Memphis, and that means the city is preparing for the tide of tourists who flock to the city to enjoy the annual International Barbecue Contest and Cotton Carnival. But then a series of crimes occur that threaten the festivities: a conventioneer is stabbed at an ATM machine, a gang leader and his girlfriend are executed, and a wealthy local businessman is killed in his own home while his bodyguard naps outside the door.

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Cold in July

coldjulyOne of the benefits of COLD IN JULY being made into an independent movie (adapted by screenwriter/actor Nick Damici and directed by Jim Mickle) is this new, movie tie-in edition from Tachyon, Joe R. Landsdale’s publisher. So now this early work from one of America’s finest storytellers – first published in 1989 and nearly impossible to find since – is once again available. That’s wonderful news not only for the legion of Lansdale fans but also for those who love a finely told crime story.
 
Early one morning, Richard Dane is awakened by a noise coming from the living room of his house in the small town of LaBorde, Texas. He goes downstairs to look, and sure enough, finds a burglar has broken into his home. The burglar hears Dane and reaches for a gun. But Dane is also armed and gets a shot off first, killing the burglar.

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Horror Exists Within All of Us

blacklabyrinthThere have been trends in horror fiction over the past ten years: monster fiction and dystopian fiction. An abundance of apocalyptic stories often related to zombies or another cataclysmic scenario or, of course, monsters; vampires, werewolves, Cthulhu. These trends point to a common underlying thread: the desire for escape from society, normalcy and/or routine.

As fantastic and engaging as escaping from our reality can be, what about really digging into our own personal realities? What about the stories that examine what makes us who we are, the ones that shine a light into the darkest corners of our minds? The human psyche is an incredibly complex and multilayered organism that has been largely unexplored in post-modern horror fiction. This has not gone unnoticed.

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The Thicket

thicketJoe R. Lansdale returns to the turn-of-the-century East Texas setting of EDGE OF DARK WATER, in his latest work and again focuses on a young protagonist coming of age in a changing and challenging world. THE THICKET, however, distinguishes itself from the earlier novel not only in its central narrative, but most notably in its major characters and unsparing portrayal of an often-romanticized era.
 
The lives of 16-year-old Jack Parker and his younger sister, Lula, are upended when their parents become the victims of a smallpox epidemic. We meet them as they travel with their grandfather on their way to the home of an aunt they’ve never known. But a heated encounter with a gang of outlaws on a ferry across the Sabine River results in the grandfather’s murder.

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Mortal Lock

mortallockFor many readers of crime fiction, Andrew Vachss is known primarily for his novels — in particular, his long-running series featuring the shadowy, urban knight errant named Burke. Die-hard Vachss fans, however, know that he’s also written several stand-alone novels (like TWO TRAINS RUNNING and THAT’S HOW I ROLL) and two collections of short stories.
 
MORTAL LOCK is the third and latest collection of such short fiction, including stories first published as long as 15 years ago. They vary in length (from two or three pages to much longer), subject, perspective and, unfortunately, quality.

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Devil Red

About two years ago, Joe R. Lansdale’s raucous and rowdy Hap and Leonard series was reactivated through a combination of reissues of earlier titles and, most notably, with a new addition to the saga, VANILLA RIDE. Now, Lansdale continues the dangerous, down-home escapades of the East Texas jack-of-all trades Hap Collins and his black, gay best bud and former military man, Leonard Pine, with DEVIL RED.

Everything good we’ve come to expect from these unlikely friends and partners is here: the sarcastic dialogue, the complex and unexpected plotting, the whiplash violence, and, of course, the twangy, self-aware yet self-depreciating first-person narration from Hap. But this novel has them dealing with their mortality more than any previous adventure. It’s no spoiler to say that they’re not completely finished with the beautiful but extremely deadly likes of Vanilla Ride, either.

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