Starting With A Whimper

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Title: Savage Season

Rating: 3 Stars

I read Bubba Ho-Tep by Joe R. Lansdale a little while ago (after having seen the movie several years ago). Since I enjoyed it, I thought that I’d give his detective series a shot.

His series centers around two men, Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. Hap is an ex-hippie ex-convict white man. Leonard is a black, gay, conservative, Vietnam vet. Despite that, they are best friends.

Since I normally like to start at the beginning of a series, I chose Savage Season. It seemed logical to do so, but sometime there are a couple of issues with doing this.

The main concern is that the characters really aren’t developed yet. It’s in succeeding books that the protagonist(s) is fleshed out when the author realized that he has the time and the readers’ attention. For instance, I just finished Killing Floor, by Lee Child. This is Jack Reacher’s first book. Although he is recognizably Jack Reacher, he still is somewhat of a cypher. It’s not until you read the following books that the character is sketched in enough to make him seem to be a real character.

I get this same feeling with Savage Season. It’s a pretty thin book (~180 pages), and the plot moves along very smartly, so there’s just not enough time for Lansdale to sketch out the characters and the relationship between Hap and Leonard. It’s clear that they are very good friends, and, as with many men, that friendship is expressed via insults. However, why they are such good friends or how does their respective views form / color their friendship is really not explored in any depth at all.

Most of the story is basically two guys exchanging quips and insults as they go off to find a buried treasure, followed by their action hero fireworks when it all blows up in their faces.

The plot is serviceable, the dialog was serviceable, and the characters were serviceable. I’m guessing that the following novels will get more interesting as Lansdale gets more space to fill out these characters.

Be that as it may, the first entry in the series was a pretty pedestrian effort.

 

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