cover image Rumble Tumble

Rumble Tumble

Joe R. Lansdale. Mysterious Press, $32 (242pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-620-2

""Man, this was something. An East Texas bouncer, a black queer, a ex-sweet potato queen, a six-foot-four overweight retired hit man and former reverend, and a redheaded midget with an attitude. The only thing we needed to top our wagon off were a couple of used-car salesmen, a monkey and an organ grinder."" That's both the pleasure and the problem in Lansdale's fourth book (after 1997's Bad Chili) about Hap Collins--the self-described ""East Texas bouncer."" The language and the characters are as ripe as ever, but there's also a hint of the kind of over-the-shoulder coyness that might eventually spoil the series. Once again, we're reminded (by his best buddy, Leonard Pine, the ""black queer"") that the hapless Hap has ""more bleeding heart in you than the whole Democratic Congress."" Once again, Hap overcomes his intense dislike of guns to blast away with rifle, shotgun and pistol at an ever-increasing number of bad men and women--some of them just accidentally on the scene. The motivation this time is to free the daughter of Hap's lady love, Brett (the ""ex-sweet potato queen""), from a life of prostitution in Oklahoma and Mexico. The background characters are as colorful as a traveling circus; there's lots of sex and other bodily functions; and the terrific tornado that ended Bad Chili is equaled here by a wonderful light plane crash. New readers should be amazed and dazzled by Lansdale's clod-kicking virtuosity--but old fans might just begin to wonder if some new direction isn't needed for Hap's next outing. (Sept.)