Book Review: Savage Season

Savage Season by Joe R. Lansdale

Recommended for crime fans, especially those who like the grittiness of the Parker books by Richard Stark

Savage Season introduces Hap and Leonard, two Texans with one hell of a friendship. To quote the back of the book:

Hap Collins and Leonard Pine are best friends, yet they couldn’t be more different. Hap is an East Texas white boy with a weakness for Texas women. Leonard is a gay, black Vietnam vet.

I couldn’t resist the back copy and picked this one up library. Now, I’ll have to go find the rest of the series.

Hap is our main narrator. His ex comes back into his life with a possibility of a huge score and she wants Hap to find it. Hap, knowing himself, goes to talk to his best friend, conscience, and common-sense – Leonard. Obviously, they agree to the heist, despite their reservations. From then on, it’s like pulling down the lap-bar on a roller-coaster and after a reasonable build-up, things go rolling out of control to the end.

I love the truly authentic feeling of the voice here. There’s no pussy-footing or softening to PC language. Everyone in the cast is who he is and there’s no apologies for any of it.

For example: (edited to protect the innocent from harsh/offensive language.)

About two in the morning the phone rang. I got up, and went to the kitchen to answer it. I don’t think Trudy even heard it.
It was Leonard.
“That bitch there?”
“Yeah.”
“Shit. You’re f***ed again.”
“It’s different this time. I’m only getting laid. Remember what you said about a hard dick not knowing a conscience? You were right.”
“Bullshit, don’t give me that macho crap. I was just talking that way. You don’t think like that and you know it. It’s always got to be something with you. This is Leonard you’re talking to here, Mr. Hap Collins, not some rose field n****r.”
“Leonard, you are a rose field n****r, and so am I. I’m a white version.”

I also *adore* the fact that Leonard just happens to be gay. It’s who he is. It isn’t part of some political agenda. It isn’t some plot point to make things awkward. He’s a tough, logical, former soldier, and normal guy who’s scraping by.

The friendship is solid. The story is ace. And the pace is perfect.

If you like the grittier side of crime stories, this is for you. Think the Parker series by Richard Stark. Or something like Chandler.

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