BookBrowse Reviews Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R. Lansdale

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Honky Tonk Samurai

A Hap and Leonard Novel

by Joe R. Lansdale

Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R. Lansdale X
Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R. Lansdale
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2016, 352 pages
    Feb 2016, 352 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book



Filled with Lansdale's trademark whip-smart dialogue, relentless pacing, and unorthodox characters, Honky Tonk Samurai is a rambunctious thrill ride.

In Lansdale's contemporary crime thriller (the latest in his Hap & Leonard series) about two East Texas "brothers from another mother" who earn money where they can – from chicken sexing to private investigating and more – the first person narrative is at once down home and sharp as a diamond tipped glass cutter. This dichotomy sets the tone for narrator Hap Collins's philosophy of life: even though things can appear to be opposites their multiple facets allow them to peacefully coexist.

Take Hap and Leonard Pine for instance. Hap is a straight White Vietnam War draft dodging liberal who generally strives for peaceful solutions in conflict situations. Leonard is a conservative gay Black Vietnam War hero who is usually a hair-trigger away from a fight. Are these enough opposites for you? Although they may be labeled by their differences, they are not defined nor limited by them. Their bond is built upon a foundation of personal integrity and mutual trust. They can be crude, irreverent, vulgar and violent when need be, but in the end Hap and Leonard are honorable men. Oh, yeah, and they have a knack for finding trouble or more precisely…

I don't think we ask for trouble, me and Leonard. It just finds us. It often starts casually, like an unscrewed bolt on a carnival ride. No big thing at first, just a loose, rattling bolt, then the bolt slips completely free and flies out of place, the carnival ride groans and screeches, and it sags and tumbles into a messy mass of jagged parts and twisted metal and wads of bleeding human flesh.

That is about as fitting a synopsis as a metaphor could be. In this case the "loose bolt" is a man that Hap & Leonard observe kicking his dog while doing some surveillance work for friend, Marvin Hanson, who owns a private investigation agency. Leonard responds to the abuse immediately, crossing the street and suggesting the man ought to try kicking Leonard – a considerably bigger target than the dog. When the man replies that Leonard is out of line and besides he is trespassing, Leonard says, "That's just where I start…How about I put one of your eyes out?" The ensuing scuffle leaves Hap to conclude that it, "appeared like a start to a fairly ordinary day for us."

The duo settles up with the abusive dog owner, leaving, "one of his teeth gleaming wetly in the grass," rescues (read adopts) the dog, and goes home. That's when that "loose bolt" starts to rattle a little more. A neighbor of the dog kicker, octogenarian Lilly Blockner, has witnessed the beating and recorded it on her tablet. She uses the video later to blackmail the partners into taking on a cold missing person case that involves her granddaughter, Sandy. Finally it's in the pursuit of the five-years-missing Sandy that the "loose bolt" slips completely and the "carnival ride" starts to groan and screech.

From there on out it's all Hap posing as a millionaire who made his fortune in sex toys, Leonard masquerading as a gardener/sex slave to old Texas oil wealth, cold cans of Dr Pepper, something called the Dixie Mafia, people named Weasel and Booger, animal crackers, a transgender car salesperson, inbred serial killers and "wads of bleeding human flesh." There's also prostitution, a biker gang, farting, shooting, vanilla wafers, plenty of salty language and just a soupçon of blasphemy. But it's all in the name of good – if not clean – crime fiction fun.

Reviewed by Donna Chavez

This review is from the March 16, 2016 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hungry
    by Jeff Gordinier
    Noma, René Redzepi's restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, has widely been considered among the ...
  • Book Jacket: With the Fire on High
    With the Fire on High
    by Elizabeth Acevedo
    From Like Water for Chocolate to Ratatouille, writers have recognized the power ...
  • Book Jacket: Lanny
    by Max Porter
    At once beautifully poignant and hauntingly grotesque, Max Porter's Lanny is like an unexpected ...
  • Book Jacket
    Call Me American
    by Abdi Nor Iftin
    As a boy growing up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin loved watching action ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beirut Hellfire Society
    by Rawi Hage

    A searing and visionary novel set in 1970s Beirut that asks what it means to live through war.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense…"
Entertainment Weekly

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win In the Full Light of the Sun

New from Clare Clark!

"Evocative prose and excellent pacing make this fine historical a must-read for art history buffs."
- Publishers Weekly


Word Play

Solve this clue:

A A A Day K T D A

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.