Coco Butternut

May 5, 2017 at 5:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

cocoCoco Butternut by Joe R. Lansdale

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The award for the most ridiculous book title of 2017 is … Coco Butternut! Yes, I know it’s only mid-February (well, it is as I write this. It appears this is going to be scheduled for publication in July, so greetings from the past!), but I’m fairly certain that, of all the books I’ll read this year, this one will win the prize. It’s just a little ridiculous.

It’s not irrelevant, though, since the name of the book refers to a prize-winning dachshund, which you can see on the cover over there. He’s long dead, as long as his owner, but when someone digs up the mummified dog and uses him as ransom, the deceased owner’s son pays a hefty amount to get him back. Of course, this isn’t Hap and Leonard’s first rodeo, and neither is it our first time reading one of their books, so this event spawns an investigation into the dognappers that gets more and more complicated.

This is a formula that Lansdale uses in his Hap & Leonard books, but his stories never feel formulaic. Coco Butternut takes us through familiar locales, with a familiar cast of characters, with his familiar brand of storytelling, meaning that those of us familiar with all that are going to have a good time. This doesn’t mean we’ll find it to be the gosh-darned bestest book read EVAR, but it does mean we’ll have fun while on the ride.

I’ve noticed that Lansdale is beginning to show more of the other characters in this series instead of relying on just Hap and Leonard, and in some ways, this is good. It gives the series a fresh feeling, especially with Brett, who’s becoming more and more a full-fledged character and less Hap’s girlfriend. Chance, Hap’s daughter, is another story. Here, she feels wooden, shoehorned into the story as an obligation and not as a necessity. I can’t remember her character being much more than that in her previous appearances, but I can’t say that for certain. Either way, here she feels like a distraction.

Coco Butternut is a bit better than Hoodoo Harry, but not quite as good as Briar Patch Boogie. These Hap & Leonard novellas don’t have the same kind of punch as the full-length novels in the series, but they’re a nice snack to have between courses of the main meal. Fans will like it; those new to the two characters would be better off starting at the beginning of the novels.

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