The Elephant of Surprise by Joe R. Lansdale
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When Hap and Leonard run across a mutilated albino girl on a dark and stormy night, they soon have some unsavory characters on their asses like a dog on a pile of cat shit. Can Hap and Leonard save the day, even as LaBorde becomes a flooded ghost town?
The baddest mother fuckers in east Texas are back and balls deep in trouble, like always. I was actually on the fence about reading this one. The last couple Hap and Leonard books haven't been up to snuff, in my opinion. However, I'm pleased to say this one had a little more substance to it.
In The Elephant of Surprise, Hap and Leonard go up against the Dixie Mafia, a hurricane, and old age to protect Nikki, an albino girl who knows too much. Helping them is Manny, the take no shit lady cop minding the LaBorde PD while Marvin Hanson is out of town.
There's a sense of desperation in The Elephant of Surprise that has been lacking in Hap and Leonard's adventures lately. There aren't as many quips and the guys aren't as confident as they once were. A martial artist gets the better of them and Hap even misses some shots. While Hap and Leonard never pull a Danny Glover and say "I'm too old for this shit," the subtext is flashing like a neon sign. Without spoiling too much, there are a couple siege-like scenes that drive home the fact that while Hap and Leonard are still capable, they aren't the super heroes they once were.
Joe Lansdale's writing is as great as it ever was with colorful similes and great dialogue. While I've found some of his recent works not quite up to snuff, I've never felt that way about his writing. I'd read a cookbook if Joe wrote it.
The Elephant of Surprise was a notch better than the previous two or three Hap and Leonard books. I hope for the sake of the characters and the reputation of the series, this is the last one. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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