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Rumble Tumble

Rumble Tumble - Joe R. Lansdale I've said before that Lansdale's writing style is what makes him unique, and why I enjoy reading him. That East Texas Redneck Gothic fiction that he writes is in a class all its own, where the weirdness will hit you long before the mystery, and his dialogue will snap like a turtle dredged up from the bottom of a creek. Take, for example, the cast of characters in this title, nicely summed up with this one-sentence excerpt:

An East Texas bouncer, a black queer, an ex-sweet potato queen, a six-foot-four overweight retired hit man and former reverend, and a redheaded midget with an attitude.

With a cast like that, you know you're reading a Lansdale book.

This is the fifth novel in the Hap & Leonard series, which is less a series proper and more a connected series of novels using the same main characters from book to book. It's not necessary to read them all in order (though I imagine it helps to understand the dynamic between Hap and Leonard if you've been there since the start), since the plots in each book are standalone events. In this entry, we see Hap and Leonard accompany Brett, Hap's girlfriend, to Hootie Hoot, Oklahoma in an effort to rescue her daughter from a life of prostitution. As with any Hap & Leonard novel, though, it's never that easy, as their journey takes them all over the central Southern region of North America.

This book is classified as a mystery, namely because it's the closest genre to what this story really is, which is a mystery crossed with a road novel, mixed in with a little Flannery O'Connor and Quentin Tarantino for good measure. I tend to classify mysteries without a real mystery to them "thriller" or "suspense", but that's still not a good classification for this series, or for any of his books. They're just Lansdale books, and anyone familiar with him will know exactly what I mean.

To me, though, Lansdale has two distinct kinds of novels that he writes: he has these pseudo-mystery novels, like the Hap & Leonard books or Lost Echoes; and he has his deeper, historical books, like Sunset and Sawdust or A Fine Dark Line. I much prefer the latter books, but it's always a treat just to read anything he writes, even if it feels like fluff, and sticks in your brain more as a sensation than an actual memory. The Hap & Leonard books are fun to read, but they don't stay with you like those other works. Those I will seek out to read; the others I'm content to just stumble across and read them as I have the time.

If you like Joe Lansdale, there's no reason not to read this book. Just don't go expecting it to be as resonant as, say, Sunset and Sawdust.