Written by: Wayne C. Rogers
Joe R. Lansdale’s Savage Season is the first novel in the “Hap Collins/Leonard Pine” series and clearly demonstrates the path to be taken by these utterly outrageous, yet definably noble characters.
As the novel begins, Hap Collins and Leonard Pine are doing okay. They have steady jobs in the rose fields and are taking a day off to shoot some skeet in the field behind Hap’s house. Yep, everything is going pretty good until trouble walks around the corner of the house in the form of Trudy (Hap’s ex-wife).
Now, I don’t know if Mr. Lansdale ever met my ex-girlfriend, but his description of Trudy fits her like a tight pair of spandex pants. Every time Trudy steps back into Hap’s life and then leaves him again, it takes several months for him to recover. Needless to say, Leonard hates this lady for the way she treats his best friend.
Anyway, Trudy has what appears to be a sweet deal for her loving ex-husband. It seems that one of her other ex-husbands, Howard, was in jail with a man who’d helped rob one million dollars from a bank. All of the robber’s cohorts were killed during or after the crime, and he almost bought the farm himself when he crashed his getaway boat into a submerged tree stump somewhere along the Sabine River. The money was never recovered, and the bank robber got life in prison. He gave Howard a general location of where he thought the sunken boat might be, hoping that if Howard were able to find the money, he’d share some of it with him to make his stay in prison a little easier.
Since Hap knows the Sabine River like the back of his hand (well, maybe not quite that good), Trudy enlists his help in locating the boat, offering him $200,000 for his services. Knowing Trudy as well as he does, Hap gets Leonard to join in so they can watch each other’s backs. It isn’t long before our two East Texans find themselves caught in the middle of a betrayal that surprises neither one of them. The only real question is whether or not they will live long enough to see who actually ends up with the money.
Savage Season, though not as long or rich in detail as the other novels in the series, is still a fun, fast-paced read. The bantering and interaction between Hap and Leonard is what hooks you. These two characters come alive in ways that other authors should take a look at. There’s a lot to be learned here about great character development.
Also, this novel offers a good deal of background information on both Hap and Leonard. This is stuff I didn’t know because I started reading the series from the middle, then worked forward, and finally finished with the first novel, when I should’ve started with it. To tell you the truth, it sounds like something Hap and Leonard would do.
Anyway, I enjoyed finding out why Hap had gone to prison as a young adult, how Trudy came into his life (she’s referred to in a number of the other books), how he and Leonard met, and Leonard’s background as a Vietnam vet. This information filled in a lot of blanks.
Last, Mr. Lansdale’s prose was smoothly written, offering a glimpse of how he would later develop into the author that he is today. All in all, this was an excellent read, and I was sorry to have the story end. This series is now being developed for a TV Cable network. I sincerely hope everything goes through, and that I’ll be seeing Hap and Leonard on television before much longer.
Order Savage Season right here!