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Rumble Tumble

Joe R. Lansdale

Mysterious Press

US Hardcover Trade Edtion

ISBN 0-89296-620-3

242 pages; $22.00

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel copyright 1998




11-13-02, 12-31-02, 04-30-03, 06-14-04

Joe R. Lansdale made his mark in horror -- and literature -- with his witty, gritty and extremely grim short story 'The Night They Missed the Horror Show' in David Schow's classic 'Silver Scream' anthology. In retrospect, it seems obvious that he would end up as a humorist and mystery writer. At the time, he was going six guns shooting into over-the-top horror. This, and his pitch-black sense of humor have endeared horror readers to the low-key Hap Collins and Leonard Pine novels. 'Rumble Tumble' is another chance for readers to enjoy Hap and Leonard's company, even if they are beginning to seem like Texan Jessica Fletchers.

From the first paragraph, 'Rumble Tumble' offers all the Hap and Leonard that we've come to expect; homespun wisdom, wise -- and head -- cracking, with enough plot to keep the pages turning. This time around, the boys are encountering some of the most memorable characters in the series. However, the main characters themselves are in need of a bit of a refresher. Hap's directionless drifting, while entertainingly described, is beginning to get a bit old. And the boys penchant for finding trouble, then escaping the slavering jaws of some down-home psychos is getting well, a bit old, like the characters. Like Hap, the author seems bewildered. He's got some great characters, and an easy reading, laugh-out-loud voice that can make a lecture about putting a new roll of TP in the bathroom a memorable reading experience.

But what's missing from the Hap and Leonard novels is what's missing from Hap's life -- direction. The reader yearns to see Hap get his shit together, but shit getting together is the one enemy that these two guys can't seem to overcome. So the reader -- and the characters -- wait for something to bring Hap beyond the stage of temporary work as a bouncer. In the meantime, the prose is as hilarious as ever, the walk-on characters are funny and realistic, and every reader who picks up 'Rumble Tumble' will have a great time. But, like Hap, we're waiting for the really good times to show their ugly faces.