Hyenas by Joe R. Lansdale (book review).

December 20, 2019 | By | Reply More

This novella, ‘Hyenas’ by Joe R. Lansdale, is a ‘Hap And Leonard’ story, part of a long-running series. Hap Collins and Leonard Pine are two tough private investigators willing to stray outside the strict boundaries of the legal code. Hap is married to the beautiful Brett and Leonard is a gay black man.

When Leonard gets into a barroom brawl with three guys, it leads to a new case. Kelly, a janitor, is worried that his younger brother Donny has fallen in with a gang of armed robbers and will be the getaway driver for their next job.

He wants Hap and Leonard to make Donny see sense and get out. Kelly is a good guy, so they take the case. Mayhem ensues. This is a typical hardboiled detective story but enlivened considerably by Lansdale’s laugh out loud similes and given depth, by his honesty about human nature. I read it at one sitting on a Saturday afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Even better, though, was the bonus short story. ‘The Boy Who Became Invisible’ is a school yarn about Hap Collins when he was a lad growing up in the wilds of East Texas. His best friend was a farmer’s son named Jesse from a family even poorer than Hap’s. Jesse got picked on by the cool kids and Hap kind of joined in a bit. Everyone wants to be in with the cool kids, don’t they? Especially the prettiest girl. ‘The Boy Who Became Invisible’ will hit a nerve with most people, kind of like a kick in the guts, and may make you squirm uncomfortably. It’s a true classic that should be anthologised far and wide.

A note on price. This hardcover is available only at mad prices now. I was lucky enough to get an advanced review copy. This limited edition hardcover carry on seems odd to me as surely a writer wants as many readers as possible. Hopefully, a cheaper paperback version or an ebook will be available one day.

Lansdale is a really good writer and has won many awards for horror, crime and mystery works. Some genre authors, notably Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, eventually get recognition from the high gods of American Letters, usually belatedly and reluctantly, as being proper literary gents worthy of recognition. I don’t think this has happened to Lansdale yet. Maybe it’s time.

Eamonn Murphy

December 2019

(pub: Subterranean Press, 2011. 100 page small deluxe hardback. Price: $25.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59606-356-3)

check out website: www.subterraneanpress.com

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Category: Books, Cri-Fi

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