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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 the Hap and Leonard series about?
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 trouble 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 these years. We can find Hap and Leonard in novels, novellas, collections of short stories, and soon in comic books.
How to read the Hap and Leonard Books in Order?
In 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 bank robbers so the two friends set out to rescue her and stop the robberies.
- 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.
- 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.
- Briar Patch Boogie – A Hap and Leonard Novelette. It’s not a full length new story, now published in Born For Trouble: The Further Adventures of Hap and Leonard. 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.
- 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. Now, it can be found in Born For Trouble: The Further Adventures of Hap and Leonard.
- 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.
- 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)
- Cold Cotton – A Hap and Leonard Novella that can be found in Born For Trouble: The Further Adventures of Hap and Leonard. 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.
- Hoodoo Harry– Another Hap and Leonard novella, you can now find it in the Born For Trouble short story collection. A day’s fishing lands Hap and Leonard their biggest catch ever: the Rolling Literature bookmobile.
- 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.
- Sad Onions – Short Story first published in the anthology Odd Partners, now available in the collection Born For Trouble. Coming back from a fishing trip, Hap and Leonard almost run over a woman who runs out in the street to wave them down. There has been a car crash and her husband is dead. But was it really an accident?
- 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.
- Of Mice and Minestrone – A collection of five short stories taking us from Hap and Leonard’s teen years to Leonard returns from Vietnam – The Kitchen, Of Mice and Minestrone, The Watering Shed, Sparring Partner, and The Sabine Was High.
Hap and Leonard: origin stories
There are a few stories that deal 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.
- 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.
If you like our article about reading the Hap and Leonard series in order, don’t forget to bookmark it! You may also be interested in reading Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series, Carl Hiaasen’s books, or the classic Lew Archer series.This article was last updated on March 20, 2023.