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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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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Just the Way It Is / Blonde’s Requiem

Stark House’s Crime Classics continues to reintroduce readers to the works of prolific thriller and mystery author James Hadley Chase with this duo of novels, JUST THE WAY IT IS and BLONDE’S REQUIEM, first published in the mid 1940s under one of Chase’s several pen names (Raymond Marshall). These works demonstrate the forms and themes that fascinated Chase throughout his career of over 90 mostly hard-boiled thrillers.

JUST THE WAY IT IS (1944) traces the collapse of a gambling organization over a three-day period. Harry Duke, a professional gambler, follows a strange real estate sale and, with the help of Clare Russell, a reporter for a local newspaper, uncovers the organization’s corruption that eventually collapses under its own weight – with some murders along the way.

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Outside the Law

Author and journalist Phillip Thompson’s latest crime novel, OUTSIDE THE LAW, follows the aftermath of violence within the world of street-level drug dealers and the mobsters who control the dealers and the flow of drugs in a rural Mississippi county. While the events and characters are never less than absorbing, the novel’s overall impact is deadened due to Thompson’s leisurely pace and shifting perspective.

Colt Harper, Sheriff of a small rural Mississippi county, has a problem on his hands. Small-time drug dealers who operate in his town are showing up brutally murdered. It isn’t long before Sheriff Harper confronts Hack, a sharp dressing, intelligent talking and completely cold-blooded assassin hired by a Memphis mobster to eliminate the dealers. Hack immediately sees Harper as an obstacle to his assignment, but a very expendable obstacle.

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The Jukebox Kings

Doug Allyn’s latest crime novel, THE JUKEBOX KINGS, presents a little-known side of the music business in the mid 1960s, when recordings were made in houses renovated into studios and records were promoted more by popularity on jukeboxes in locals bars and clubs than airplay over the radio. Along the way Allyn also unsparingly presents the greed, ambition, and violence that are also parts of the professional music world.

“Irish” Mick Shannon is a professional boxer who suddenly finds himself in debt to the mob when his manager bet heavy and Shannon looses his latest match. Unable to come up with the cash, Shannon ends up working as the collector for Moishe Abrams, an aging mobster who runs the jukes and collections in Detroit’s 8 Mile area.

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Snatch

The late Gregory Mcdonald is remembered primarily for his popular Fletch and Flynn series. So much so that only his most devoted readers know that he also wrote several stand-alone crime novels. Hard Case Crime hopes to correct this with SNATCH, which presents two long out-of-print Mcdonald novels about kidnapping. And although they both share this common element, they are two completely different novels in all important regards.

SNATCH, the first of the two novels (first published as WHO TOOK TOBY RINALDI in 1978) takes place in the 1970s and focuses on the United Nations Ambassador to an unnamed country in the Middle East. The Ambassador’s son, Toby, is kidnapped by those who wish to prevent the Ambassador from presenting a resolution that will affect the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf. The Ambassador and his wife search for their abducted son while enlisting the assistance of the country’s designated officers. But the panicked parents soon suspect that these officers can’t be completely trusted.

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Koreatown Blues

As the title implies, Mark Rogers’s debut crime novel is set in the seldom-celebrated section of Los Angeles known as KOREATOWN. It features a protagonist who finds himself unexpectedly entangled in the traditions of the Korean population he lives and works among.

Wes Norgaard has worked for several years at a carwash in Koreatown. At night he hangs out at a bar not far from where he lives and works, and often finds himself the only white guy in the place.

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Dead Gone

DEAD GONE, the debut novel from by Luca Veste, editor of two previous story anthologies, is a generally impressive and inventive work. The crime tale involves the hunt for a shadowy serial killer while commenting on important but often neglected themes. Sadly, however, Veste’s constantly shifting perspective prevents this debut from being totally satisfying.

The body of a young woman is found in a park in Liverpool, England. The case goes to veteran homicide inspector Detective David Murphy and his new partner, Laura Rossi. They quickly discover that the murder victim was a student at the City of Liverpool University.

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In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper

Themed short story anthologies are usually the result of an editor suggesting a specific topic to a group of authors, or an editor gathering together previously published stories that are similar in subject. Master crime author and editor Lawrence Block took a slightly different approach for IN SUNLIGHT OR IN SHADOW.

Block suggested that his fellow authors use one of the paintings by American narrative artist Edward Hopper as the inspiration for a story. “His work bears special resonance for writers and readers,” Block notes of Hopper in his foreword, “and yet his paintings never tell a story so much as they invite viewers to find for themselves the untold stories within.” The result is one of the most varied and yet rewarding story anthologies to appear in a long time.

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The Wrong Side of Goodbye

wrongsideMichael Connelly’s latest novel, THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE, continues the saga of Harry Bosch. Once again, we find the LAPD detective working as a private investigator (as we did in 2003’s LOST LIGHT). But this is not the only activity keeping Bosch busy, as we learn in this overly complex but only minimally involving addition to the series.

As part of the settlement of his lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department, Harry Bosch has resigned from his 30-year post with the LAPD and works as a private investigator. But he doesn’t advertise, doesn’t keep an office, and is very picky about who he works for. Then, through another former LAPD contact, Bosch is called to the home of a reclusive, elderly billionaire.

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