Vanilla Ride

Vanilla Ride

There’s no more-welcome sign of the summer reading season than Joe R. Lansdale ’s Vanilla Ride , featuring the troublemaking and problem-solving escapades of Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. The unlikely pair of crime fighters (Hap is a white, determinedly heterosexual, underemployed construction worker; Leonard is a black, loudly queer, underemployed nightclub bouncer) last appeared in 2001’s Captains Outrageous , which found them dodging bandits in Mexico. Now they’re back in their East Texas stomping grounds, where an old pal, Marvin Hanson, begs them to bring home his granddaughter, Gadget (née Julia), who has taken to selling dope with some local lowlifes. After kicking the snot out of the punks and flushing their product, the two-man wrecking crew learns that the dealers were fronting for Dixie Mafia mobsters—and the messy affair does not come to a halt until the FBI, a posse of assorted tough guys, and a hired killer get involved. Vanilla Ride ’s over-the-top action is an excuse to turn Hap and Leonard loose in their smart-ass, self-deprecating style, and after eight years in mothballs, their rowdy bonhomie and Mother-cover-the-kiddies’-ears repartee fairly leap off the pages. One suspects this book was not released so much as it flat-out escaped. Knopf, $23.95

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