cover image Devil Red

Devil Red

Joe R. Lansdale, Knopf, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-307-27098-6

In Lansdale's rollicking eighth Hap and Leonard novel (after Vanilla Ride), the East Texas crime-fighting duo, Hap Collins (white and straight) and his partner, Leonard Pine (black and gay), look into a two-year-old unsolved murder. They step into the usual hornet's nest of troubles when they spot a devil's head scrawled in blood in crime-scene photos. It's the tag of a merciless mass murderer who has tallied numerous hits across the country, and as their investigation broadens, the pair discovers that Devil Red­­—who could be one of the countless criminals they've cheesed off in previous capers—is now hot on their trails. Lansdale delivers his patented blend of hard-boiled mayhem and laconic humor, leavened with reflections on mortality, morality, sex, and brotherhood. There's enough seriousness to make this novel stand far apart from run-of-the-mill thrillers—and enough comedy to have readers laughing through the blood spatters. (Mar.)