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How to read Hap and Leonard by Joe R. Lansdale ?

Like with Quarry, I recently discovered Hap and Leonard via the television series. I watched it because I really like the work of Jim Mickle and Nick Damici, the two men behind the TV show. In fact, their last movie – Cold in July – was also the adaptation of a Joe R. Lansdale book. There’s a season 2 of the show this year, but before that, there still are the books.

What is Hap and Leonard?

So, it’s a creation of Lansdale filled with fun, violence, great dialogues and characters. The story takes place in the ’80s, in the fictional town of LaBorde, East Texas. We follow Hap Collins, a white working class laborer who spent time in federal prison for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War, and his best friend, Leonard Pine, a gay, black Vietnam vet with anger issues. They are as different as they are friends. The two of them regularly end up in a lot of troubles doing some amateur investigating in order to solve various crimes.

The first book was published in 1990 and the series is still alive and kicking after all theses years. We can find Hap and Leonard in novels, novellas, collections of short stories and soon in comic books.

Where to start with Hap and Leonard?

At the beginning, there were only novels and then, like every Hap and Leonard story, things got a little bit complicated. Some novellas were published and sold out quickly. With the help of the Sundance TV show, help came in the form of a new book and more surprises will come next year!

 

  1. Savage Season – When Hap’s old girlfriend Trudy struts in with a plan to make some serious money, Hap and Leonard cautiously get involved. Just as the money is acquired, Hap and Leonard quickly lose control of the situation.
  2. Mucho Mojo – Leonard learns that his Uncle Chester has passed. Hap helps his friend to clean up Uncle Chester’s house and they uncover a dark secret beneath the house’s rotting floor boards: the small skeleton buried in a trunk.
  3. The Two-Bear Mambo – Hap and Leonard travel to small racist Grovetown to search their investigative-lawyer friend Florida. While looking for information about a black man who reputedly hanged himself in the town’s notorious jail, Florida disappeared.

  

  1. Bad Chili – When the man who stole Leonard Pine’s boyfriend turns up in a ditch and Leonard gets fingered for the murder, Hap vows to clear his name. Things only get more complicated when Leonard’s ex also shows up dead.
  2. Rumble Tumble – Hap volunteers to help his girlfriend, Brett, retrieve her daughter from a life of prostitution just outside Oklahoma City. As always, things get complicated.
  3. Death by Chili – Another short story that can be found in the new Hap and Leonard anthology. It’s about a man who was murdered for his chili recipe.
  4. Captains Outrageous – After rescuing a local girl, Hap receives a big reward and decides to use some of the money on a sea cruise shared with Leonard. They end up stranded in Playa del Carmen with muggers, a mysterious old fisherman and his daughter, and a sticky web of intrigue and violence.

  

  1. Vanilla Ride – Leonard is asked to rescue a teenage girl from a drug dealer. Everything goes according to plan, until with Hap they find out the dealer is a member of the Dixie mafia.
  2. Devil Red – When their friend Marvin asks Hap and Leonard to look into a cold-case double homicide, they found out that both of the victims were set to inherit serious money, and one of them ran with a vampire cult. A little research turns up a slew of murders.
  3. Hyenas – It’s a novella and the first two editions published by Subterranean Press have sold out. Now, it can be found in the new Hap and Leonard anthology. Hap’s girlfriend Brett ends up getting abducted by a gang of bak robbers so the two friends set out to rescue her and stop the robberies.
  4. Dead Aim – Another sold out novella, but it can also be found in the new Hap and Leonard anthology. In this one, Hap and Leonard agree to provide protection for a woman harassed by her violent soon-to-be-ex-husband. Soon, things get complicated, as always.

 

  1. Honky Tonk Samurai – Blackmailed into working for a woman named Lilly Buckner who wants them to find her missing granddaughter, Hap and Leonard agree to take on the cold case and soon discover the used car dealership where the granddaughter worked is actually a front for a prostitution ring.
  2. Briar Patch Boogie – A Hap and Leonard Novelette. It not a full length new story, and it’s only in ebook. Hap and Leonard go on a fishing excursion in a ramshackle cabin with a sunken boat and no electricity. Soon, they stumble upon some problems.
  3. Coco Butternut – Another novella in which Hap and Leonard, with the help of Chance (Hap’s daughter) and Brett (Hap’s girlfriend), are working to get back the stolen dead and mummified body of a dog named Coco Butternut.

 

  1. Rusty Puppy – A woman named Louise Elton comes into Hap and Leonard’s PI office to tell them that the police have killed her son, Jamar. She wants to know what really happened.
  2. Blood and Lemonade – It’s a mosaic novel published to promote the second season of the TV show. It is the Hap and Leonard origin story. (more in the comments section thanks to Rick Klaw)
  3. Cold CottonA Hap and Leonard Novella. Hap and Pine are up to their ears in trouble once more, when a kinky, psychotherapist client and her household end up dead with a crazy, nymphomaniac niece as the main suspect.

 

  1. Jackrabbit Smile – Hap is celebrating his wedding to his longtime girlfriend, Brett, when their backyard barbecue is interrupted by a couple of Pentecostal white supremacists. They’re not too happy to see Leonard, and no one is happy to see them, but they have a problem and only Hap and Leonard will take the case.
  2. The Elephant of Surprise – Amidst the worst flood East Texas has seen in years, Hap and Leonard run across a woman who’s had her tongue nearly cut out, pursued by a heavily armed pair of goons. Turns out the girl survived a mob hit, and the boss has come to clean up the mess.

Hap and Leonard: origin stories

There are a few stories that deals with Hap and Leonard when they were Young. All can now be found in the new Hap and Leonard anthology.

The Boy Who Became Invisible – It’s a story about Hap when he was a kid growing up on the banks of the Sabine River.

Not Our Kind – THE origin story or how Hap and Leonard first met. It took place in high school when they became friends.

Veil’s Visit – If possible, read it before Captains Outrageous. This story is a collaboration with Andrew Vachss. Leonard has a lot of problems with his next-door neighbors who run a crack house that he has burned down. This ends up in court with Veil, a lawyer created by Vachss.

Hap and Leonard: The Comic Books

Soon, Hap and Leonard will make their debut in the comics world with adaptation from the books, always a good way to know if this is your kind of story. Also try the TV Show.

  1. Hap and Leonard: Savage Season – A graphic novel adapting the original story which is also the basis for the first season of the Sundance TV series.

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9 Comments

  1. Rick Klaw

    BLOOD AND LEMONADE is the Hap and Leonard origin story. It builds upon the tales that were included in HAP AND LEONARD. Shares the first time they meet, their first adventure together, and a lot more.

    From the publisher’s site:

    Discover Joe R. Lansdale’s compelling coming-of-age manifesto as you tune in to “Hap and Leonard: Mucho Mojo,” an action-packed, six-episode murder mystery adventure starring Michael K. Williams (The Wire) and James Purefoy (The Following), only on SundanceTV.

    As a liberal young man in East Texas, Hap Collins is discovering his passion for two-fisted justice in a redneck world. Leonard Pine—black, gay, and the ultimate outsider—is already fighting his own battles against racists and bullies. So when Hap sees Leonard demolishing an angry mob with his fists (and taunts), it’s immediately clear that these two young men have a lot in common.

    • Fabien

      Good news ! Thanks Rick for the informations. I liked the origins they gave to the characters in the tv series, but I’m curious to read this version.

  2. Craig Childs

    Your list of Hap and Leonard books is incomplete:

    1. Veil’s Visit (1999) – This was the first Hap and Leonard anthology. Sold out by Subterannean Press (all stories were later included in subsequent anthologies)

    2. Hap and Leonard Ride Again (2016) – This was the e-book version of Hap and Leonard but it features some stories not found in the print version– and it also omits some stories that were in the print version. (Not only did this make things confusing, but it tempted readers to buy both editions.)

    3. Hoodoo Harry (2017) – This is another novella, this time an “ultra-limited” publication only available from The Myterious Bookshop in Tribeca, New York City. Hardback and paperback

    • Fabien

      I put the “Veil’s Visit” story in the end because it’s in the last anthology. I don’t know what was in the first edition though.

      I also don’t know what to do with “Hap and Leonard Ride Again”. I didn’t find it and all the marketing is pretty confusing.

      For “Hoodoo Harry”, I didn’t know it was out, thanks for the informations, i’ll try to find it.

      Again, thanks for your comment 🙂

    • Fabien

      Thanks for the links. Too bad Amazon doesn’t want to sell me Ride Again. Because I’m in France, I have to use the french kindle store and the book is not available.

      And damn! Hoodoo Harry is not cheap. I hope there will be a less collectible reprint one day.

  3. JimBob

    Hi Fabien!
    Thanks for this reading order. I’ve been binge reading all the books and this list has been really usefull.
    I’d like to point that 12. “Briar Patch Boogie” should be read AFTER 13. “Honky Tonk Samurai” because “Honky Tonk Samurai” introduces a new character that is referenced in “Briar Patch Boogie”
    Also “Veil’s Visit” should go before “Captains Outrageous” for the same reason.

  4. Austin Kennie

    There’s also Cold Cotton, another Ebook that came out between Rusty Puppy and Hoodoo Harry.

    I believe the proper order of the books is on the Hap and Leonard wiki page.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hap_and_Leonard

  5. Agamemnon Dulcet

    Briar Patch Boogie comes AFTER Honky Tonk Samurai . . without giving away any spoilers, a character is introduced in Samurai that is mentioned in Briar Patch Boogie.

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