Rusty Puppy

September 29, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, )

puppyRusty Puppy by Joe R. Lansdale


I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading this book. Sure, it’s only been a few months since its release, but (a) I’m a big fan of Lansdale’s, and (b) I try to keep up with ongoing series as the new books release. I finally realized I had fallen behind and read this over a weekend.

Rusty Puppy finds Hap and Leonard in Camp Rapture, where the police are worse than the criminals. Bullies and sexual predators, they begin harassing two young siblings, which leads to the death of Jamar, the brother. Their mother doesn’t believe the story the police tell her about his death, so she hires Hap and Leonard to investigate. They seem the types who can find out what really happened.

Lately, I’ve said that Lansdale is a dependable writer. By that I mean that his dialogue is always sharp, his pacing swift, and his narrative easy. Beyond that, he can tell a razor-sharp story when given the room. His novellas (of which I’ve read several in the last year) don’t seem to give him that room, but a full-blown novel does it. This time around he gives us a novel that’s not just a fast read, but also has a solid plot to carry it along.

As usual, Lansdale touches on (rubs all over it, really) race relations in small East Texas towns. Lansdale makes sure to note that not everyone from a small town is racist, but he makes sure to show us they’re there, despite how much progress we’ve made in the last fifty years. With the real world reminding us there’s still a long way to go, books like Rusty Puppy have more relevance, and thus have a stronger punch.

Look, this is a Lansdale book. If you know him, then you know what that means. If you don’t, then you should start at the beginning and see how Hap and Leonard develop over the years. He’s well worth reading, whether or not you like crime fiction, because deep down, he’s a gifted storyteller. This whole series shows him at the top of his game.

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