April 11, 2011

Rabid Reads: "Savage Season" by Joe R. Lansdale

Savage Season
by Joe R. Lansdale
Vintage Books (2009)
originally published by Bantam in 1990
178 pages
ISBN 978030745383

I've had Joe Lansdale's novel, Bad Chili, sitting on my bookshelf for a little over a year. It's the only Lansdale novel I've seen in my neck of the woods--one of many authors who just don't show up on shelves around here. But I wanted to read Savage Season first, because it's the first "Hap & Leonard" novel, and I didn't want to read Bad Chili without having some clue of who Hap and Leonard were. As it stands, now that I've read Savage Season I can't wait to read the rest of the books.

Their names are Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. They're in their forties, they're Texans, and they're the best of friends. So, when one of Hap's old flames, Trudy--the old flame--returns with a proposition that could set them up quite comfortably in a financial sense, Hap in drawn in like a moth to a flame, and Leonard is right there to remind him how dumb he gets when Trudy comes calling. Still, Hap and Leonard aren't exactly living high on the hog and could use a good payday, so they wind up tangled in Trudy's mess, which includes another of her boyfriends, Howard, and a couple other goons so they can drudge up a boat somewhere in the backwaters of east Texas, and hope to find the millions in stolen bank money that's alleged to be there.

The shit they get into is downright comical. Even though Hap and Leonard have a fair idea there is something not quite right about the whole deal, they follow through with it. But thing have a way of turning sour, but not even they could have foreseen just how gummed up the works could get. Money has a strange way of affecting a man. A woman has an even stranger way. Mix the two and ... well, Joe Lansdale spins a good yarn to fill in the blanks.

The novel is a very quick read, but it doesn't feel like it short-changes you. You get to know Hap, Leonard, and even Trudy very well through their interactions with one another. The dialogue is really good in this book, but it's the way the scenes are laid out between these characters and how they relate to one another that really makes it a fun read. It's a plain spoken narrative through Hap's point of view, and his no bullshit way to telling things makes you like him all the more and root for him to have a happy ending.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves crime novels, but I'm betting that most of them are already fans of Lansdale's work. Forgive me for hopping on the bandwagon late. Better late than never, as I will be tearing in Bad Chili in the not too distant future. And, I see there is a brand new "Hap & Leonard" novel coming out this year called Devil Red, so I'll have to track that one down as well.



  1. Nice review, Fox.
    I dig all the Lansdale books but his Hap and Leonard stories are probably the best.

  2. Just finished reading Devil Red the other night, and I'm inclined to agree.

  3. Gotta love the original paperback cover:

  4. Oh man, that scene was brutal. My own hand hurt reading it. Cool cover, for sure.

  5. Have never read a Lansdale book...I do love mysteries, though. time to check this author out. :)

    Stopping by from Cym Lowell's book review giveaway.



  6. I do like crime novels, but haven't read any by Lansdale. I think I'll be looking into getting my hands on some.

    Thanks for stopping by Proud Book Nerd! :-)