Briar Patch Boogie

April 8, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads)

briarBriar Patch Boogie by Joe R. Lansdale

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So, there’s a television show about Hap and Leonard that’s close to finishing its first season. I’ve been hearing about it for several months now, and as good as it sounds, I have a hard time seeing how anyone can capture those characters as well as Lansdale does in his fiction. But folks are hearing about it, are probably going to watch it, and maybe they want to read some of those Lansdale stories. Enter Briar Patch Boogie.

The story is, of course, about Hap and Leonard, and as usual, they fall neck-deep into trouble by witnessing something terrible. Their honor and their sense of justice force them to get involved, and since they’re tough, bad-assed characters, of course they face it with the resolve and resilience one would expect from these anti-heroes. Missing from the story are the usual odd characters, but to be honest, they’ve been missing since Captains Outrageous, which was so chock-full of them that maybe Lansdale was getting them all out of his system before moving on to more crime-noir stories.

What’s significant about Briar Patch Boogie is that a full quarter of this ebook is taken up with an excerpt from Act of Love, Lansdale’s first published novel. Dedicated Lansdale readers may not be that impressed with the story, since we already know his style and characters, and the story isn’t anything new, but new readers should get a kick out of it. What makes a Lansdale story a Lansdale story, after all, is the voice.

Briar Patch Boogie is the perfect place for a reader new to Lansdale to begin. It introduces you to Hap and Leonard, and Lansdale’s snappy dialogue, impeccable characterization skills, and fully realized settings. Even if the plot is a bit pedestrian, there’s nothing else about this novelette that could be called so.

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