“Rusty Puppy” by Joe Lansdale features our two favorite malcontents Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. “Rusty Puppy” is about East Texas, and the good, the bad, and the in between who live there. They are plagued by murder, police corruption, blackmail, conspiracies, dog fighting, and assorted other crimes, as Hap describes them, “An East Texas classic. Killed and thrown in a ditch.” However, the book is really just Hap and Leonard being themselves.
Hap’s narrative of the day-to-day life drives the story. Hap and Leonard work as detectives. “Think I may have tripped over a clue” Leonard said. “”Sounds to me like you are doing some actual detective-type thinking.” Hap replies.
Their pay for jobs is on a “sliding” scale. “Mama said she didn’t have any real money to pay you. Will that make a difference in how much you do?” “No,” Leonard said. “Hap here is privately rich and supports me. When this is over we’re opening a coffee bar in Tibet.”
As they endeavor to solve the murders, their fellow East Texans are really not much help. “Any idea who killed Timson, and why?” Hap asked. “I ain’t got no idea,” she said. “He might have got hit crossing the road, for all I know. Somedays I’d have run over him.”
Lansdale’ strength is in his use of words not only in the realistic conversations but also in the vivid descriptions of Texas itself. “To stand beneath (the oak) when it rained was amazing, because the limbs were so thick and the leaves so plush … you would hardly get wet.”
Joe Lansdale is the definitive storyteller. If you want to laugh along with Hap and Leonard, then this book is for you. Be advised that Hap and Leonard are, as always, rude, crude, and very funny. If you are not prepared for “colorful” language and politically incorrect scenarios, do not read this book.This is not my first Hap and Leonard book, and I enjoy them all. They are unlike any other books I have read. I both laughed, and cringed all the way through.