October 7, 2011

The Two-Bear Mambo ***

*** The Two-Bear Mambo, Joe R Lansdale, 1995 Disclaimer

I skimmed through the second Hap and Leonard novel, Mucho Mojo, and then dove into The Two-Bear Mambo on the ellipitcal. Every time I read a Hap and Leonard novel I think it can't get any more crazy, then the next one goes off the charts.

Grovertown, where much of the action takes place, is based on Vidor, which was notorious as a hotbed of racism and Klan action. I've been to Vidor a few times, and my college roommate, Fred Smith, was from Vidor, although he had not a racist bone in his body and was nicer that most people I know.

According to wikipedia, Vidor has cleaned up its act in the last few decades. But at the time Lansdale wrote this book, it was unregenerate and Grovertown is unimaginably brutal, far beyond what I imagine happened in Vidor in at least the past 50 years or longer.

Once again Lansdale brings us fantastic images and extended scenes of violence, interspersed with smartass, sarcastic dialog and startling metaphor. There were a few places where I felt the dialog became a bit on-the-nose and expositional. Especially when Charlie turns into a redneck psychologist at the end.

Like with McConnelly, in a Lansdale novel, nobody is safe. In fact, there were moments when I wondered if the main characters would survive, even though I know there are a half-dozen more books in the series.

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