DEVIL RED By Joe R. Lansdale – Reviewed

Although the Hap and Leonard series contains pretty much stand-alone novels, I came to this one having missed at least one book. The book I missed was Vanilla Ride, and unfortunately that book is quite heavily referenced in this one. It gives the backstory of Hap and Leonard’s meeting with the assassin Vanilla, who appears in this book. That was a little annoying, but reading a series out of sequence that kind of thing is bound to happen.

So, if you’re coming to this book never having read a Hap and Leonard story stop right now. Go back to the bookshop, or amazon, or wherever you got the book and buy The Bottoms, that’s Hap and Leonards first adventure and it’s one of Lansdale’s best novels. Which, for a writer of Lansdale’s immense talent, says a lot.

Hap and Leonard, a couple of middle-aged men who work for a local private detective, find themselves looking into a murder from some years ago. As they question and follow the clues more murders start to appear, and a mysterious red devil symbol is drawn at the crime scenes.

But as they get closer to this serial killer their own lives become endangered…

Landsale writes with a unique style, and the short, sharp dialogue moves the story along as a nice fast pace. The atmosphere and characters are rich and powerful, his action set-pieces roll along swiftly, and you don’t even have time to pause for breathe.

This is East Texas crime action as its very best. Lansdale is on form, and the Hap and Leonard novels never fail to entertain or impress.

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