Title: Hoodoo Harry by Joe R. Lansdale
Genre: Currently #56 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in the Kindle Store, Kindle Short Reads, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Publisher: Mysterious Press.com and Open Road Media LLC
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Source: Open Road and NetGalley
Title and Cover: Hoodoo Harry – The cover definitely sucked me in.
New to the Hap and Leonard series by Joe R. Lansdale, I went into this novella with an open mind. I’m on record for accepting mysteries and the cover looked like the book had a humorous bent to it, so I bit. Goodness! I do get myself into some very unusual books! Well, more appropriately a novella–VERY short read–and thought this would give me a break from profound emotional fiction. I had no idea when I accepted this download offering that there was a Sundance TV series of the same name.
As has been previously noted, Hap Collins is a straight, white, liberal ex-hippie to Leonard Pine’s gay, black Marine veteran. The ONLY thing these two have in common is that they are both blue collar, Lone Star state residents. They manage a job of sorts–private investigations. This one is triggered after they are rammed by an errant bookmobile on their way home from a pleasant day perch fishing and looking forward to a fish fry.
Unfortunately, the 12 year old driving the runaway bookmobile dies in the accident and can’t relate the circumstances of the newly surfaced bookmobile or of his appropriation. The bookmobile has been missing for 15 years, along with its librarian/driver, Hoodoo Harry, better known as Harriet Hoodalay. Hoodoo Harry was a poor black lady delivering books out of her rural African American community of Nesbit.
Told in gritty first person from Hap’s POV, the dialogue runs from Texas down home to city raunchy…I didn’t wanna see that and I didn’t wanna hear that…but unfortunately I did. It’s probably pretty standard dialogue given the character’s backgrounds and definitely lends a shotgun load of authenticity, but it’s the kind of humor that has you sniggering at the same time as embarrassment sets in.
It’s actually Hap’s sweetie who suggests they follow the old route of the bookmobile and coordinate with nearby LaBorde Chief of Police, Marvin Hanson (their law enforcement buddy), who reluctantly fills in some missing pieces (they’ve scratched each other’s backs before). Their interviews with the townsfolk quickly solves the whodunit.
Wait! No, what? As a reader of a series offered in a short novella, I was left with questions regarding the protagonists. It is not understood how these two ever got together. I didn’t really get to know them. Were they sympathetic or not? Were they hapless characters doing the best they could? Yeah, I’m thinking neither could program the next AI android. Were it a stand alone, I’d get more information. It is part of a series–and a short novella at that, but perhaps it needed just the teeniest back story?
This novella download was offered by Open Road Media and NetGalley and I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to read and review. I’m a new Hap and Leonard fan. Can you handle a little crude or vulgar dialogue? Then this is a recommended read for those who enjoy fast and tight mysteries with unusual central characters a smidgen of humor.
Rosepoint Publishing: 3.5 of Five Stars
The Author: Joe R. Lansdale has written more than thirty novels and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in foreign publications as well as national anthologies and magazines. He has written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and internet sites. Lansdale has received numerous awards including the Edgar Award and eight Bram Stoker Awards. His crime thriller Cold in July was released in May 2014 as a major motion picture. Lansdale has additionally enjoyed film adaptations for his stories and is currently co-producing a TV series, “Hap and Leonard” for the Sundance Channel. I found the series listed on Netflix and was flown away by the first season. Talk about thriller-suspense! Not a Texan to trifle with, Lansdale is a founder of the martial arts system Shen Chuan: Martial Science. He and his wife live in Nacogdoches, TX with his wife, dog, and two cats. Thank you for a compelling and fascinating read, Mr. Lansdale, sir! ©2017 Virginia Williams