When laborer Hap Collins' ex-wife Trudy pops back into his life with a story about retrieving unrecovered money from a bank robbery, Hap's up for it. In tow is Hap's best friend, Leonard, a gay black man who happens to be the toughest son of a bitch on the planet. Will Hap and Leonard finally make the big score that saves them from a life of backbreaking labor or is Trudy leading them to their deaths?
2014 reread: Since nothing on my unread pile looks appealing at the moment and a Hap and Leonard TV series is in the works, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the Hap and Leonard books I read pre-Goodreads. One of the perks of getting older is that old books magically become new books after seven or eight years. I remembered the basic plot of this book but forgot most of the wrinkles.
Savage Season introduces Hap Collins and Leonard Pine to the world. Hap is an ex-hippy who spent a year and a half in prison for dodging the Vietnam draft and Leonard is a gay black Vietnam vet who is the toughest man on Earth. Together, they coast through life on crap wages and make a lot of smart ass remarks.
Since originally reading this, I've read a lot of other crime books. It seems to me that Hap and Leonard owe something to Robert Parker's Spenser and Hawk characters, transported to Lansdale's rural east Texas setting. No matter how you slice it, though, Hap and Leonard are one of the most entertaining duos in crime fiction.
The plot of this one is pretty straight forward. Some money from a bank robbery was stashed on boat and sunk in the Sabine River. Trudy, Hap's ex, with some other radicals in tow, want Hap's help in retrieving it. Funny quips and bloody double-crosses ensue and Hap and Leonard wind up in the hospital for the first of many times in the series.
It always surprises me how funny Joe Lansdale's books are without lessening the impact of the violence that often follows. There are some pretty brutal images in this one.
While Savage Season isn't the best book of the series, it's a great beginning. Even in their first appearance, Hap and Leonard are very much the losers I've come to love over the years and I'm excited to be experiencing their adventures once again. Four out of five stars.