cover image The Elephant of Surprise

The Elephant of Surprise

Joe R. Lansdale. Mulholland, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-316-47987-5

At the start of Edgar winner Lansdale’s relentlessly paced 12th novel featuring Hap Collins and Leonard Pine (after 2018’s Jackrabbit Smile), the two wise-cracking buddies are driving through a winter rainstorm in East Texas when they spot a young woman, who runs onto the highway and collapses. They stop the car and pick her up. She’s bleeding from the mouth, and it appears someone tried to cut out her tongue. A moment later, an SUV pulls out from a side road and stops in front of them. A large man holding a pistol gets out on the passenger side. “He looked as if he could straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa with one hand.” Striking metaphors help drive the violent plot, in which Hap and Leonard must use all their wiles, including the “elephant” of surprise, to defeat a gang of murderous criminals, who are intent on preventing the woman they’ve saved from talking. Bad weather doesn’t make their job any easier. Some readers may wish for more breaks in between action scenes, but Lansdale’s fans will be satisfied. [em]Agent: Danny Baror, Baror International. (Mar.) [/em]