Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mucho Mojo

Five years after bringing us the first adventures of Hap and Leonard in Savage Season, Joe Lansdale brought their second installment to us in Mucho Mojo. When the story opens, Hap is back at work in the rose fields, putting rose sticks into the ground (“the job they give to sinners in hell” he describes it) while Leonard is still recovering from the injuries received in the first book, when Leonard learns he has inherited a house from his Uncle Chester. Leonard and Hap move into the home to fix it up so it can be sold, and make some disquieting discoveries.

The first is the once-quiet African-American neighborhood is being terrorized by a crack house located next to Leonard’s new property. This leads to confrontations between Leonard and the drug dealers, and eventually to Leonard burning down the crack house, an event that will be repeated until it becomes something of a running gag in the series. The second is even grimmer. Beneath some rotten floorboard, the duo finds a box filled with child pornography – and the skeleton of a small boy. When the police are none too keen on following up the disappearances of black children in the area, Hap and Leonard take it on themselves to uncover the truth. The result is the usual mix of grim criminal activity and hilarity, as only Lansdale seems able to pull off.

Oh, and the title refers to the bottle tree placed by Uncle Chester in front of his property. According to the book, the bottles are supposed to catch and trap evil spirits. Bottle trees are also common in some parts of Alabama, although I've never heard that particular explanation.


Rabid Fox said...

This series looks promising, but I wonder: do I need to read it from the start? I ask because I've got an old copy of Bad Chili sitting on my bookshelf.

KentAllard said...

You would enjoy it from any starting point, but it probably is a little better read in order. SAVAGE SEASON has, I think, a much grimmer tone than the rest of the series.