Thursday, March 24, 2016
Review of Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe Lansdale (2016, Mulholland Books)
Honky Tonk Samurai is the eleventh book in the Hap and Leonard series. It has the same hallmarks as the earlier books: a witches brew of colourful characters, crackling dialogue, strong action sequences, and a decent sense of place and context. And as usual, the real pleasure is in the likeable characters of Hap and Leonard and their relationship, and Lansdale’s unique voice. However, for me, the tale and the telling didn’t quite live up to earlier outings, especially the first few books. The story was linear and involved little detective work, and elements of the plot didn’t seem to sit quite right. Whereas the other books are tightly paced in this outing there are some sizable chunks of dialogue that little move the story forward (even the characters tell each other to stop rambling). The result is an undulating plot of lulls between some nice action set pieces. Moreover, some main characters and key aspects of the story remain off-stage. My sense was too much of the plot was about setting Hap and Leonard up in the private investigation business, moving new characters into their personal lives, and reuniting them with characters from earlier in the series. Nonetheless, Lansdale’s brilliant way with words and the usual hallmarks makes Honky Tonk Samurai an entertaining and enjoyable read.