There are certain liberties authors are granted. Only David Mamet can get away with stringing together seemingly unrelated explicatives into believable dialogue the way he does; only Stephen King can make Maine seem like the third circle of Hell; and only Joe Lansdale, Texas born and bred, can get away with the often goofy quotes his duo Hap Collins and Leonard Pine spout off on just about every other page of his series of novels. Who else can get away with descriptions like: â€œâ€¦She pulled the other clip out and slipped it on the weapon smooth as a gigolo sliding on a condom.â€? All is forgiven though, as long as he continues to write about Hap and Leonard, the two protagonists Lansdale hasnâ€™t written about for nearly a decade. Living in the Hill Country of East Texas, best friends Hap and Leonard, (one white, one black, one straight, the other gay) work construction and other odd jobs when they are not hired to kill bad guys or commit other acts of questionable legality.
In Vanilla Ride, the duo help out an old friend whoâ€™s granddaughter had gotten mixed up with some local drug dealers. After taking away from her dealer boyfriends and cracking a few skulls in the process, the guys manage to piss of the Dixie Mafia, a group of White Supremacists controlling the drug trade in East Texas. The FBI gets involved and Hap and Leonard are eventually pitted against a female hit man (hit woman? hit person?). Lansdale has a history of combining tense action with laugh-out loud dialogue and Vanilla Ride is no exception, and easily one of his best novels. Hap and Leonard were greatly missed.
Vanilla Ride by Joe R. Lansdale/Knopf/256 pages/Hardcover