JOE R. LANSDALE – Mucho Mojo. Hap Collins & Leonard Pine #2. Limited edition: Cemetery Dance, hardcover, 1994. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1994; paperback, 1995. Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, trade paperback, January 2009. Listed as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was awarded the British Fantasy Award. TV Adaptation: The book was the basis of the second season of Hap and Leonard (Sundance, 2017).

   Lansdale is well-known (at least to Bill Crider and me), but primarily for horror, in which field he’s a multiple award winner. This is his first “traditional” crime novel to my knowledge. (*) Mysterious thinks it’s a breakout.

   Hap Collins is white, fortyish, and working in the rose fields of East Texas. Leonard Pine is black, the same, and gay (but not very cheerful) on top of it. They’re tighter than ticks on the proverbial redbone, and Leonard has a bad leg gotten saving Hap’s life during some shady doings. They are sort of drifting along when Leonard’s Uncle Chester dies and leaves him a hundred grand and his house, which changes a lot of things. They discover that Uncle Chester was going senile before he died, and had hinted to the local police that somebody was murdering black children.

   Then, while putting his house in shape, they discover a bunch of kiddie porn magazines and dig up the bones of a 10-year old child buried in a box under the floor. The police think Uncle Chester did it, but Leonard doesn’t believe it, so he and Hap begin to dig deeper. So to speak.

   This is an entertaining book, and Hap and Leonard are interesting and refreshingly different characters. I don’t know that they’ re all that believable: 40-year old field hands with as much on the ball as our dynamic duo strike me as more than a little unlikely, but hey, it’s just a story, right? And a good one, too. Lansdale knows how to spin a yarn. He’s got a good East Texas “voice,” and Hap narrates the story effectively, with a fair share of quips and country sayin’s.

   There’s a lot of dialogue, and not much of the brooding atmosphere you might expect from Lansdale. It won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but you won’t know if it’s yours ’til you try a sip.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #14, August 1994.


(*) EDITOR’S NOTE: There was one earlier book in the series: Savage Season, a small press edition published in hardcover by Ziesing in 1990,.