Mucho Mojo – Joe R. Lansdale

Synopsis: Leonard is still nursing the injuries he sustained in the duo’s last wild undertaking when he learns that his Uncle Chester has passed. Hap is of course going to be there for his best friend, and when the two are cleaning up Uncle Chester’s dilapidated house, they uncover a dark little secret beneath the house’s rotting floor boards—a small skeleton buried in a trunk. Hap wants to call the police. Leonard, being a black man in east Texas, persuades him this is not a good idea, and together they set out to clear Chester’s name on their own. The only things standing in their way is a houseful of felons, a vicious killer, and possibly themselves.

“There’s no balance in having a good side when you got the other side he had. Hell, you don’t know he had a good side. He had a good front, man. That guy had more masks than a gaggle of trick-or-treaters.”

Mucho Mojo (much bad magic) follows two crime-solving best friends, Hap Collins & Leonard Pine, shortly after the events in book one. Hap owes Leonard after what happened, so when Leonard shows up at the rose fields asking for his help.. Hap can’t refuse. Not that he would want to.

Leonard’s uncle who raised him, Chester, has passed away & he wants Hap to come to the funeral with him. Leonard had a complicated relationship with his estranged uncle. Chester disowned him after finding out that he is gay. Well, it turns out that uncle Chester left his house & a chunk of money to him in his will. Hap offers to help Leonard clean out the house, so the two men move in to fix it up. That’s when some fuckery abounds. It’s Lansdale, so you know it’s some truly alarming shit. This time it’s a discovery that turns up child pornography, as well as the remains of missing children. Was Chester a pedophile & murderer? Or is there a possible killer on the loose? And what is going on at the crack house next door?

Leonard finds it hard to believe that his uncle was hiding this other life, despite their strained relationship, so he sets out to clear his name along with Hap. Hap doesn’t necessarily trust that Chester is innocent, but if we know one thing in this series.. Hap & Leonard are the one constant in each others lives. They can depend on one another, knowing the other will always have his back. I think that is so fucking beautiful!

Ultimately, that is what makes this series. The glue that holds the story together is the relationship between Hap & Leonard. The chemistry between them is so real. It feels like a living, breathing embodiment of a genuine, deep friendship. One that someone is lucky to get to experience even once in a lifetime. They just don’t make a bond like this often, whether in “real life” or written on a page.

“Hap, my man, there is evil in the world. True evil. It doesn’t twirl its mustache and it doesn’t wear black and it doesn’t slink and it doesn’t come in any one color or sex.”

I’ve read a few less-than-stellar books recently, which is honestly incredibly rare for me because I KNOW WHAT I LIKE! So beginning this felt.. calming to my brain. I just appreciate Lansdale’s writing so much. The topics explored within this series are anything but light, but Lansdale has this talent of writing incredibly dark, thoughtful, intense stories.. but with a sense of humor. Not to mention the masterful way he conjures up a setting.

I’m such an atmosphere person. I fucking love being transported to the world I’m reading, the community, the time period. I revel in it. Soaking it into my bones. Lansdale is an incredibly gifted storyteller. His ability to throw you into a stifling, sweat-soaked, claustrophobic East Texas is quite remarkable. You can almost hear the mosquitoes buzzing around the swamp during a hot & humid day. He just makes it seem so bloody easy!

Mucho Mojo is a solid crime novel that explores race, sexuality & class divide within Texas. There is a sense of urgency in the plot as the suspense grows. The whodunit aspect of the story isn’t the most shocking, but the writing keeps it enjoyable.

I’m always looking forward to my next Lansdale. He hasn’t let me down yet!

-Holly

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