When Leonard's Uncle Chester dies and leaves him a house, Hap and Leonard move in in order to fix it up and find a child's skeleton wrapped in a porno mag. Was Uncle Chester a child predator or was someone else the killer? And does it have anything to do with the crackhouse next door?
Here we are, the second book in Joe Lansdale's redneck noir adventures of Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. While I had vague recollections of reading this sometime around the turn of the century, it was mostly a new book.
Leonard's Uncle Chester dies so the boys pack up and head to LaBorde to settle his affairs. While repairing his house, they stumble upon a child's skeleton and uncover a wasp's nest of religious-themed serial killing that has been going on for decades.
While the first book wasn't quite firing on all cylinders, this one roared down the track like one of those crazy tractors with four or five engines on it. Hap and Leonard's investigations come from the Spenser school of walking around, pissing people off, and eventually having the case come together in the midst of some bloodshed.
Some longtime supporting cast members were introduced in this volume, like Marvin Hanson and Florida. Marvin is also the star of Act of Love, a Lansdale that I still have yet to read but own at least two copies of. Like most of the early Hap and Leonard's, Hap and Leonard do a lot of philosophizing when they're not cracking wise or cracking skulls. This may account for the brevity of later volumes when Hap isn't such a bleeding heart. Also, this is the first time Leonard burns down a crackhouse, something that happens at least two more times in the series if I remember correctly.
The mystery is fairly intricate. I guessed part of it, both the first time and this time but forgot some of the wrinkles. I guess I'm lucky I remembered the details that I did considering it's probably been over a decade since I first read it. In fact, if the girlfriend I'd let borrow this book sometime years ago hadn't left a couple post-its in the book with notes on them, I probably would have been a little further afield than I was when all the shit went down.
Funny thing, I completely forgot about one character's death and was surprised when another one lived. Like I've said before, old books magically become new books once enough time passes.
Lansdale's really shows his chops in this one, writing like a backwoods Elmore Leonard. When the killers are revealed, their motives make a certain amount of sense, to me and Hap, at least. Leonard's not as kind was we are. The contrasting personalities of Hap and Leonard set them a cut above other buddy teams for my money.
Mucho Mojo is one of the best books of one of my favorite series. Five out of five stars.