TITLE: Jackrabbit Smile (Hap Collins and Leonard Pine series #13)
AUTHOR: Joe R. Lansdale
PUBLISHED: March 27, 2018
PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon, Mobilism
Description: Edgar Award-winner and fan favorite Joe R. Lansdale is back with Hap and Leonard's latest caper: investigating the disappearance of a revivalist cult leader's daughter.
Hap and Leonard are an unlikely pair—Hap, a self-proclaimed white trash rebel, and Leonard, a tough-as-nails black gay Vietnam vet and Republican—but they're the closest friend either of them has in the world. Hap is celebrating his wedding to his longtime girlfriend, Brett (who is also Hap and Leonard's boss), when their backyard barbecue is interrupted by a couple of Pentecostal white supremacists. They're not too happy to see Leonard, and no one is happy to see them, but they have a problem and only Hap and Leonard will take the case.
Judith Mulhaney's daughter, Jackrabbit, has been missing for five years. Well, she's been missing from them for five years, but she's been missing from everybody, including the local no-goods who ran with her, for a few months. Despite their misgivings about Judith and her son, Hap and Leonard take the case. It isn't long until they find themselves mixed up in a revivalist cult that believes Jesus will return flanked by an army of lizard-men— solving a murder to boot.
With Lansdale's trademark humor, whip-smart dialogue, and plenty of ass-kicking adventures to be had, you won't want to miss Hap and Leonard's latest.
Review: I set out to read this novel because it surmised two of my favorite things in life: Texas and thrillers. I LOVE Texas, primarily cause I'm a native. I know the areas described and detailed in this novel, apart from the fictional towns of LaBorde and Marval Creek. It's shocking but shouldn't be at the same time how realistic the story-line is still relevant today.
Happy "Hap" Collins and Leonard Pine are two life-long best friends, who couldn't be any more different than they already are, making a heck of a formidable investigative team. This is my first novel to finish by Joe R. Lansdale and it was surprisingly quick but the pacing was excellent and kept me in tune with the action. Hap and Leonard are seriously good at what they do. Characters need to/should be a manner with which you can relate.
I missed really small towns right then, the casual sweetness they could have. “Honey” and “baby” and “child” and “sweetie” and so on.
To me the above quote fits small town Texas where everybody knows you and remembers your childhood antics. Since I'm Texan and familiar with the settings and Texas drawl, I could transport myself to the locale and just visually the dingy small towns, rusty and beaten up trucks with loud rambling exhausts.
The story at hand: A missing girl, racism, and a town "owned" by a powerful but secretive man, the ingredients for a good "whodunit". Hap is settling in after marrying his boss and long-time girlfriend, Brett Sawyer. When, and I will say stereotypical, East Texas hillbilly mother and son arrive unannounced at their shindig.
“What’s all them colored people showing up for?” the young man said. The way he said that, you could tell he didn’t go out and about among those who held different beliefs than his own. “We’re filming a Tarzan movie after lunch,” Brett said. “Need a lot of them colored folks for that. Cannibal scenes, you know.”
Right off the bat, the vibes of these people set Hap and eventually Leonard with second guesses about their motives but agree to take the case to find and verify signs of life that their missing daughter/sister is still alive.
Professor, he works under the table on a lot of things, out in the open on others. Dogfights, junkyards, the café. This and that. His idea is to buy up as much of the town as possible, control what he can’t buy, and make this a haven for folks like himself. Thinks people of his ilk will flock here. Next thing is, they’ll push me out and put in a puppet.
So much goes on: Action, Mystery, Comedy (has some serious gut-busting laughs) and it really hits at the mouth-watering end. The whole gang of characters: Hap, Leonard, Brett, Chance, their old boss/town police chief Marvin, and Officer Carroll are eccentric in everyway, quite unusual for Texas folks in my opinion but they fit the bill perfectly.
As unsettling as some plot devices are, it is a sad state of truths in that area of Texas. Racism, the belief of segregationist lifestyles are hush-hush but seemingly audible in smaller circles of East Texas but Lansdale weaves these in and makes for a bad set of characters that you just can't wait for them to get their comeuppance at the hands of Hap and Leonard.
Lansdale ties the whole novel together so quickly (clocks in at 256 pages) that I should've taken a break and processed it all but jumped right onto the previous novel in the series "Rusty Puppy".