Thursday, February 18, 2016

Honky Tonk Samurai

I’ve done it again – started reading a well established crime fiction series with its most current book, well after the long histories of the main characters have been firmly planted in the minds of longtime series fans.  This time I did it with Joe Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard books about two East Texas good old boys (one white and one black) who somehow manage to survive whatever violent mishap their collective lack of good sense gets them into.  But as it turns out, Honky Tonk Samurai is not a bad book for uninitiated Hap and Leonard fans to begin with because it reunites the boys with several colorful characters from their past – and Lansdale kindly provides a short back-story for each of them. 

Hap and Leonard haven’t exactly been getting rich working in a small town private detective agency, but when the agency owner decides to sell out so that he can become the town’s new police chief, they are left with two choices: become unemployed or find a way to buy the agency from the new cop.  Luckily for them, Hap’s girlfriend, who is unhappy with her nursing job, decides to use her savings to buy herself a career change.  Now Hap and Leonard have a new boss.

The agency’s first customer might be an old woman who can barely make it up the stairs to their office, but as soon as she opens her mouth, Hap and Leonard know that she is a fighter.  In language that shocks even Leonard at times, the old woman explains that she wants the pair to find her granddaughter, a young woman who several years earlier disappeared along with the $50,000 she stole from her grandmother.  She suggests that they begin their search at the upscale classic car dealership that her granddaughter was working at when she disappeared.

Boy, what a can-of-worms that would turn out to be. 

Author Joe R. Lansdale
Let’s just say that some car dealers sell more than cars from their showroom floor, and because they really don’t want the whole world to know about it, snoopers have to be silenced.  Before they know it, Hap and Leonard are outnumbered, outgunned, and hiding from a family of crazy hit men whose terrifyingly creative hits put them in a league all their own.  If Hap and Leonard are to survive their first case, it’s time for them to call in the troops.

One of the benefits of coming to a fictional series late in its run is that, if the book clicks, the reader ends up with a whole pile of books to add to the TBR list.  And that is exactly what’s happened to me with Honky Tonk Samurai.  I plan to spend a lot more time with Hap and Leonard…and their friends.

(Review copy provided by publisher)


  1. It might be best if you find a series halfway, or just a bit more than halfway, through an author's career. Lots of books already on hand for you to read along with the promise of more to comes.

    1. That's probably the sweet spot, James. I think this is the 10th Hap and Leonard book, so it's probably a bit past the halfway mark, but who knows?