Joe R. Lansdale has a wicked way with words.
Of the many memorable passages in “Rusty Puppy,” his new Hap and Leonard novel, not one of them can be reprinted in a family newspaper.
Hap Collins and Leonard Pine, small-town East Texas private detectives, say the filthiest things. Some of it is good-natured banter between buddies; the rest is don’t-mess-with-me trash talk.
And they don’t just talk dirty. They fight dirty, too.
One almost feels guilty enjoying their raw, rollicking adventures. But Lansdale, an Edgar Award-winning writer from Nacogdoches, has a way of winning readers over with his deceptively elegant brand of “redneck noir.”
“Rusty Puppy” (Mullholland Books, $26) is the 10th Hap and Leonard novel in a series that also includes three novellas and three short-story collections. Season two of the “Hap and Leonard” TV series (starring James Purefoy and Michael Kenneth Williams in the title roles) begins March 15 on SundanceTV.
Hap and Leonard are lifelong best friends who see themselves as brothers — even though on the surface they’re so very different: Hap, the narrator, is a good-old-boy liberal. Leonard is black, gay and politically conservative.
The plot of “Rusty Puppy” involves a crooked police force and two men who are beaten to death. But these ingredients are what readers will remember more: a foul-mouthed little girl from the projects, Leonard’s way of winning a war of words with a bar owner, and the meaning of the phrase “Rusty Puppy.”
Lansdale’s book tour for “Rusty Puppy” brings him to Dallas and The Wild Detectives, an independent bookstore (314 W. Eighth St. in Oak Cliff), at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
David Martindale, Special to the Star-Telegram