MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: HONKY TONK SAMURAI by Joe R. Lansdale



  • Review by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

When Joe Lansdale writes a Hap and Leonard novel, you know you’re in for a good time. The misadventures of the red neck liberal and his gay black Republican partner-in-crime supply a lot of laughs and action. With Honky Tonk Samurai, the boys are back and joined by all their rowdy friends.

By now in the series, Hap and Leonard are officially private eyes. Hap’s girlfriend, Brett, has bought the agency from their friend, Marvin Hanson, who is now chief of police. Their first case is for a salty old woman who wants to find her granddaughter. The clues quickly lead to a used car/prostitution/extortion ring. when the bad guys call on an inbred family of psycho-assassins to do their dirty work, the boys put out the call, rounding up their friends like good ol’ boy PI Jim Bob Luke, reporter Cason, the beautiful and highly skilled hitwoman Vanilla Ride, and Cason’s sociopath friend Booger, like the magnificent seven with fewer and weirder members.

For the fans of the series, it is like getting together with an old friend, especially the one that just got out of prison.

Honky Tonk Samurai reminds you how Joe Lansdale often goes against the conventions of the genre he is writing. The title refers to the hard boiled hero code Hap says he is more than willing to throw to the wind in order to survive. Instead of a terse and clipped prose style, he takes the Chandler mode of alliteration and pushes it with a verbose Southern style. The plot is is simple, yet meanders and Hap and Leonard talk more often about sex, religion, politics, and vanilla cookies than their case. Lansdale, like the reader, simply wants to take time to hang out with his guys. That said, he can deliver a hot action scene, like a classic Caddy driving into a gang of bikers with Hap ready with a shotgun.

Honky Tonk Samurai is everything you want from a Hap and Leonard novel. There is a lot of laughs and some well put together shoot outs, and at the core a friendship that gives Butch and Sundance a run for their money. For the fans of the series, it is like getting together with an old friend, especially the one that just got out of prison.

Honky Tonk Samurai comes out today! You can find copies on our shelves and via

Joe R. Lansdale comes to Noir at the Bar, at Opal Divine’s, on Tuesday, February 16th, where he will sign and read from his latest. Much of his extensive catalog will additionally be available for purchase at the event. Noir at the Bar starts at 7 PM at Opal Divine’s at Penn Field. Lansdale is joined by sportswriter and debut mystery author John Schulian, musician and author Jesse Sublett, and author of the Bill Travis mystery series, George Weir. More about the event.

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