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Bad Chili (Hap Collins and Leonard Pine Series #4)

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Overview

With his trademark knack for gut-busting laughter and head-splitting action, Joe R. Lansdale serves up a bubbling cauldron of murder and mayhem that only he could create.

Hap Collins has just returned home from a gig working on an off shore oil rig. With a new perspective on life, Hap wants to change the way he's living, and shoot the straight and narrow. That is until the man who stole Leonard Pine's boyfriend turns up headless in a ditch and Leonard gets fingered for the ...

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Bad Chili (Hap Collins and Leonard Pine Series #4)

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Overview

With his trademark knack for gut-busting laughter and head-splitting action, Joe R. Lansdale serves up a bubbling cauldron of murder and mayhem that only he could create.

Hap Collins has just returned home from a gig working on an off shore oil rig. With a new perspective on life, Hap wants to change the way he's living, and shoot the straight and narrow. That is until the man who stole Leonard Pine's boyfriend turns up headless in a ditch and Leonard gets fingered for the murder. Hap vows to clear Leonard's name, but things only get more complicated when Leonard's ex shows up dead. To the police it is just a matter of gay-biker infighting, but to Hap and Leonard murder is always serious business, and these hit a little to close to home.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Four fisted action. . . . packs one hell of a wallop. . . . Like 10 alarm chili, [its] pretty strong stuff."—People"Hilarious. . . . Lansdale is a terrifically gifted storyteller with a sharp country boy wit."—The Washington Post Book World“Colorful.... Lunatic.... Like a twister Lansdale's book has a lot of energy.”—Chicago Tribune"One of publishing's best kept secrets."—Dallas Morning News“Funny.... Flashy.... True Art.”—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
After Leonard's boyfriend and the biker he has run off with are gruesomely murdered, Leonard turns to his (straight) buddy Hap for help clearing his name. So begins this fast and funny East Texas shoot-'em-up tall tale that brims with very adult (strong language, raunchy sex, sadomasochistic violence and pornography) and absurd (bizarre squirrel attack) themes. As Leonard and Hap soon realize that they are more prey than investigators, the plot grows increasingly complex and hilarious, heightened by Phil Gigante's pacing and performance that spans a masterful range from Hap's twangy narration to Leonard's basso and night nurse Brett's sassy purr. A Vintage paperback. (June)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The opening attack of a rabid squirrel leaves Hap Collins, returning from Mucho Mojo and Two-Bear Mambo, with a prescription for a series of shots. Luckily, Nurse Brett is a doll, albeit somewhat foul-mouthed. Hap and his tough, gay, black sidekick Leonard Pine drive another brutally funny R-rated crime caper in picturesque East Texas. Leonard's lover, Raul, has left him for a biker called Horse Dick, whose subsequent death by shotgun is attributed to Leonard. Another death and the news that Horse Dick had a hidden identity revs up Hap's investigation. The trail he and Leonard follow leads to one weird scheme to sell restaurant grease on the black market and another one involving videos of young gay men being realistically beaten up. The cast of likely criminals includes a chili magnate; a former professional wrestler who enjoys applying electricity to tender male body parts, including Hap's; a hairdresser with a suspicious French accent; and the unforgettable Jim Bob Luke, a rough-edged PI who makes Leonard look like a sissy. Brett is probably overwritten some, and her supposed demise isn't slightly believable, but the rest of the narrative, including a breathless finale, is droll, crude, touching and very nasty. Lansdale elicits at least one good chuckle per page, and there may be no living author who commands more vernacular terms for the myriad sexual acts available to consenting and non-consenting adults. In this author's hands, extravagant, lovable characters mix with outrageous, despicable actions to irresistible effect. Major ad/promo.(Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
Think your love life is complicated? Leonard Pine, fired from his job as the Hot Cat Club's bouncer (don't ask why), is mopey because his boyfriend Raul has taken a shine to biker Horse McNee. After threatening and cold-cocking the Other Man, Leonard is naturally the number one suspect when Horse is found in his car, run off the road, shotgunned to death by a weapon a lot like Leonard's—though Lt. Charlie Blank has no way of comparing them until he finds out where Leonard's hiding. Leonard's only hope is his old buddy Hap Collins, who's just started his own little romance with Brett Sawyer, the forthright night nurse who offers to give him a shot in the rear while he's in the hospital getting treated for rabies (don't ask why). Raul seems to be the man to find, Hap and Leonard agree during an unauthorized sabbatical that Hap's taking from the hospital—and find him they do, hideously tortured, presumably by the gang of video artists whose line of gay stalk-and-rape tapes is headlined by Kickin' Fairies, which Hap and Leonard have been lucky enough to purchase. Jim Bob Luke, a can-do shamus visiting LaBorde to avenge one of the video victims, is convinced the ringleader is Charles Arthur, the Chili King; Hap isn't so sure. What everybody agrees on, though, is that the gay-bashing auteurs really want that incriminating videotape back, and they don't care what they have to do to get it.

Hap's effortless talent as a downscale East Texas raconteur (The Two-Bear Mambo, 1995, etc.) makes him the funniest of Travis McGee's widely dispersed sons, even when he's writing about truly menacing bad guys.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307455505
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/5/2009
  • Series: Hap Collins and Leonard Pine Series , #4
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 632,189
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe R. Lansdale has written more than a dozen novels in the suspense, horror, and Western genres. He has also edited several anthologies. He has received the British Fantasy Award, the American Mystery Award, seven Bram Stoker Awards, and an Edgar Award. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas, with his family.
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Read an Excerpt

1It was mid-April when I got home from the offshore rig and discovered my good friend Leonard Pine had lost his job bouncing drunks at the Hot Cat Club because, in a moment of anger, when he had a bad ass on the ground out back of the place, he'd flopped his tool and pissed on the rowdy's head.Since a large percentage of the club was outside watching Leonard pop this would-be troublemaker like a Ping-Pong ball, and since Leonard hadn't been discreet enough to turn to a less visible angle when he decided to water the punk's head, the management was inclined to believe Leonard had overreacted.Leonard couldn't see this. In fact, he thought it was good business. He told management if word of this got around, potential troublemakers would be sayin', "You start some shit at the Hot Cat Club, you get that mean queer nigger on your ass, and he'll piss on your head."Leonard, taking into account the general homophobia and racism of the local population, considered this a deterrent possibly even more effective than the death penalty. The management disagreed, said they hated to do it, but they had to let him go.That wasn't enough of a heartbreak, about this same time Leonard lost his true love, Raul, again, and was in the mood to tell me about it. We drove out to a friend's pasture in Leonard's latest wreck, an ancient white Rambler with a loose spring under the passenger's ass, set up some cans on a rotting log and took pot shots at them with a revolver while we talked beneath a bright blue, cloudless sky.Way it happened was Leonard knocked a row of cans down with a few good shots, and as we walked over to put them up again, he was beginning to tell me how he and Raul had been arguing a lot--which was nothing new--and how Raul had walked out. This was not new either. But this time Raul hadn't come back. That was new.Few days later Leonard discovered Raul had taken up with a leather-clad fella with a beard and a Harley, and had been seen riding around LaBorde on the back of the bike, pushed up tight against Leather Boy. So tight, Leonard said, "He must have had his dick up the fucker's ass."We had one revolver between us, and as Leonard talked, he handed the revolver to me and I started to load it. I had placed four shells in the chambers when out of the woods, bounding as if on a Pogo stick, came a frenzied squirrel.Let me tell you, if you have never seen an agitated squirrel you have seen very little, nor have you heard much, because the sound of an angry squirrel is not to be forgotten. It is high-pitched and shrill enough to twist your jockeys up your crack.For a moment, Leonard and I were frozen with amazement, stunned by the shrieking. Both of us have been in and around the woods all our lives, and as a youngster I had hunted squirrel and our family had fried and stewed and eaten them with poke salad and mustard greens on many occasions, but in all my born days, and I'm sure in Leonard's, we had never seen anything quite like this.I suddenly wondered if my taste in meat had been passed down through generations of squirrels by word of mouth, and here, finally, was old Beebo come to avenge the death of a relative. That rascal was bouncing four feet high at a leap, and after about four leaps it was totally clear of the woods and was springing directly toward us.We broke and ran. The squirrel, however, was not a quitter. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw that it was in fact gaining on us, and Leonard's cussing was having absolutely no effect, other than to perhaps further enrage the animal, who might have had Baptist leanings.We made the car just ahead of the squirrel, but we didn't make the doors. We jumped onto the hood and then the roof of the car, which was, of course, useless. The squirrel sprang to the hood effortlessly and, with a chatter and a spray of froth, leaped onto the roof and directly at me.Leonard rescued me. He swatted it aside with the back of his hand, knocked it twisting to the ground, where it did a kind of dance on two legs, regained its footing, then began to run hysterically about in a circle. A heartbeat later it broke the circle and charged the car again.I opened up on the fucker. Three shots in quick succession, but the way it was moving--all those battlefield tactics, zigzagging and whatnot--I succeeded only in throwing up some pasture dirt.Next moment, the squirrel regained the hood and the roof, and the little bastard made clear I had been his intended all along. It latched onto my right forearm with its teeth and it didn't let go, and let me tell you, squirrels have some serious goddamn teeth. It may not be lion or tiger stuff, but when they latch on to you the difference seems minimal.I was off the roof of the car and running, the squirrel hanging on to my arm as if it were a dog tick. I swatted it with the revolver and it still wouldn't let go. I held it out at arm's length and shot it through the chest, but it wasn't going to let a little thing like a bullet make it give in. I ran about the pasture hopping and jerking my arm, and after what seemed an eternity the squirrel finally lost its hold, taking flesh with it. It hit the ground and rolled, and even with a bullet hole in its small chest, it began to chase me willy-nilly about the pasture, bleeding and chattering all over the place.I wheeled and tried to fire again, but the revolver was empty. I threw it at the squirrel and missed. I ran every which way but the squirrel was not deterred. It came leaping and biting at my ass as I darted, bobbed, and weaved, and surely would have overtaken me had not Leonard run over the disgruntled critter with his car. Another thirty seconds and my lungs would have burst and the squirrel's intended plans for me would have been moot.I first realized what had happened when Leonard hit his horn, and I looked over my shoulder to see the squirrel get his. It was a nasty thing, this squirrel destruction. The car banged the squirrel as it leaped, making it a kind of temporary hood ornament. When the squirrel hit the dirt, Leonard slammed on the brakes, backed up, took sight of the injured beast and ran over it, then reversed over it, got out, found a stick and poked at the parts of the squirrel that were sticking out from under the tire. The damn thing was still alive and shrieking. Leonard had to finish it with the stick and his boot heel.On the way to the doctor, me dripping blood all over the Rambler, Leonard said, "I was wondering, Hap. Did you know that squirrel? And if so, could it have been something you said?"2"Rabid would be my guess," said Dr. Sylvan."Oh, shit," I said."That about puts it into perspective. Rabies is making a big comeback these days. The woods are thick with foammouthed critters."Me and the doc were in one of his examining rooms and I was sitting on the examining table, and he had just finished sewing up my arm and fastening a bandage around it. He was a sloppy-looking silver-haired man in his sixties, wearing a blood-specked white smock (my blood), rubber gloves, and an expression like someone waiting for a brain transplant. This expression was misleading.Sylvan put his foot on the trash-can lid lever and pressed. The lid came up, and very carefully he removed his gloves and dropped them into the can and let the lid close. He washed his hands in the sink, fumbled inside his smock, got out a cigarette and lit it."Isn't that bad for your health?" I said."Yeah," said Dr. Sylvan, "but I do it anyway.""In your examination room?" "It's my examination room.""But that seems like a bad idea. Patients will smell it.""I spray a little Lysol around.""You sure the squirrel had rabies? Could he have just been pissed off about something?""Was he frothing at the mouth?""Either that or he had been eating whipped cream.""And you said he was running about in an erratic manner?""I don't know it was so erratic. He came right for me. He seemed to have a mission.""You ever seen a squirrel do this before?""Well, no.""Did he leave a note? Some indication that it might not have been rabies?""That's funny, Doc.""Rabies. That's what it is. You bring the squirrel's head in?""It's not in my pocket or anything. Leonard threw the squirrel, still attached to its head, into the trunk of the car. He thought it might be rabid too.""Then you're the only one that doesn't think so.""I don't want to think so.""What we need to do is cut off the squirrel's head, send it to a lab in Austin, let them do some research, see it's rabid or not. In the meantime, you could go to the house and wait for symptoms. But I don't think that's a good idea. Let me tell you a little story, and let me warn you up front that this one doesn't have a happy ending. My mother told me this story. In the twenties, when she was a girl, a boy she knew got bit by a raccoon. Kid was playing in the woods, some such thing. I don't remember exactly. Doesn't matter. He got bit by this raccoon. He got sick. He couldn't eat, and he couldn't drink water. He wanted water, but his body couldn't take it. The doctor couldn't do a thing for him. They didn't have the medicine for rabies we have now. The boy got worse. They ended up tying him to a bed and waiting for him to die, and it was not a pretty thing. Think about it. Watching your son suffer from something like this, and it just goes on and on. Kid got so he didn't know anybody. Laid there and messed on and wet himself, bit and snapped at them like a wild animal. Chewed off his tongue. The father finally smothered him with a pillow and everybody in the family knew it and didn't say a goddamn word.""Why are you tellin' me this?""Because you have been bitten by a rabid animal, and beginning right now we have to start shots. Rabies is pumping through your system, and believe me, it will not be denied. Way I see it in my head is all these little microscopic rabid dogs foaming and snapping at the air, dog-paddling through your bloodstream, heading for the brain, where they intend to devour it.""That's a very interesting picture, Doc.""I came up with that when I was a kid and was told the rabies story. First I imagined raccoons, but since I was always hearing about dogs being the carriers, it changed to dogs.""What kind of dogs?""I don't know. Brown ones. We haven't got time to fuck around here, Hap. Bottom line is we don't start shots, you go the same way as the kid, only maybe without the pillow. Right to life, all that.""All right. You got me convinced. You take rabies shots in the stomach, don't you?""Not anymore. That's changed. In fact, it isn't so bad. But this is serious, my man, and we don't want to make too light of it.""Couldn't we wait until we get the results off the squirrel head? I hate shots.""I just gave you one.""Yeah, and I didn't like it.""You'd have liked it less, me sewing up that wound without deadener. Listen up, Hap. We wait until the results come back, it'll be too late. You'll be running around on all fours and bouncing and biting the air. Trust me on this. I'm a doctor. I'll make arrangements at the hospital.""Can't we do it here?""I could, but they also have what I need there. And since I know you don't have any money and I'd like to get paid, you go to the hospital I can get something out of your insurance. You do have insurance?""Yeah. I even overlap a bit. I've got insurance from the offshore work that'll be good for a while, and I have a kind of penny-ante insurance that I've been managing to pay for the last few years. I don't know it'll do much.""Most of this shit insurance, which is what I figure you have, does better you go to the hospital. So give the information to my secretary when you go out, and if it's anything we're familiar with, we may be able to get policy information right away. If not, it'll take a while. I want to check Leonard over too, see if he got scratched or bit. He might have and not even know it. He's got a bite, you'll both go to the hospital. Step on out and tell him to step on in.""Doc, if we got to send the squirrel's head in for dissecting, and I'm going to take the shots before we get results, why bother?""Could be an epidemic. Squirrels aren't usually the carriers. Raccoons, foxes--they're the main culprits. But somehow it may have gotten into the squirrel population. People ought to know. Step on out and send Leonard in. We got to get this show on the road. Oh, before you go, here's a trash bag. Get the squirrel and put it in the bag and leave it behind the reception desk. I'll have someone pick it up."I gave the insurance information to the receptionist, borrowed Leonard's car keys, got old Beebo out of the trunk and bagged him and put him in a cooler they had behind the desk. Then I sat in the waiting room and tried to read a nature magazine, but at the moment I wasn't feeling all that kindly toward nature.I wasn't feeling all that kindly toward the brat that was waiting there either. His mother, a harried woman in laceup shoes designed by the Inquisition, a long black dress and a Pentecostal hairdo--which was a mound of brown hair tied up in a bun that looked as if it had been baked into place to contain an alien life form--was pretending to be asleep in a waiting-room chair.Couldn't say as I blamed her. This kid, who had torn up three magazines and drank out of all the paper cups at the water cooler and stuck his gum on the doorknob leading out of the office, wasn't someone you wanted to look at much.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2001

    FOR A BOOK WITH SUCH SERIOUS OVERTONES, I'VE NEVER LAUGHED SO HARD IN MY LIFE!!!

    After having read Joe R. Lansdale¿s beautiful and poignant novel, THE BOTTOMS (everybody should read this!), I decided to back track and try some of the books in his ¿Hap Collins/Leonard Pine¿ series, starting with BAD CHILI. I hate to say it, but after just one novel, I¿m now addicted to these two fascinating and utterly delightful characters. I found myself laughing so hard in the first four pages of this novel that I started crying and then got stomach cramps. I can¿t believe it¿s taken me so long to finally pick up a book by this fantastic author. I must¿ve had my head buried in a hole of sand for the last seven years. What¿s BAD CHILI about? Well, it¿s about Hap Collins and Leonard Pine (a couple of schmucks as Leonard would say of himself and his friend) who find themselves getting caught up in the most outrageous and dangerous situations, usually because they¿re trying to help someone. Hap is white, in his mid-forties, hates violence, dislikes guns, tries to stay within the law, has a bald spot on the back of his head, and is generally the calmer of the two. Leonard is black and gay, trained in the martial arts, tougher than any five guys put together, and the first to lose his temper. When Hap returns home after working on an off shore oil rig for several months, he and Leonard go out into the woods to shoot cans and play catch up on each other¿s life. It isn¿t long before a big, mean squirrel with rabies comes bouncing out of the woods and chases Hap around the field before finally latching onto his arm. While Hap goes to the hospital, Leonard attempts to find his boyfriend, Raul, who¿s left him for another man. Both Raul and his new lover end up dead, and Leonard is blamed for their murders. This leads Hap and Leonard on a quest to find out whom the real killer is, not to mention the person behind a sex/video ring who films gays being beat up by several guys and then sexually abuse by them. Hap will encounter one of the most dangerous and biggest men he has ever met¿a slightly deranged ex-wrestler who likes to apply electricity to a person¿s genitals before beating them to death with a baseball bat. If Hap thought the squirrel was deadly, waits till he meets Big Man Mountain! BAD CHILI is the most fun I¿ve had with a novel in an extremely long time. I immediately loved the characters of Hap and Leonard, feeling as if these were two guys I¿d like to know in real life. I couldn¿t get enough of the bantering between the two of them. Both men proved to be tough hombres who knew when to cross the line for payback. These are guys you¿d want covering your back, or tracking down the killers after you¿re dead. They¿re like dogs with a bone that won¿t let go, no matter what the cost. Hurt them or one of their friends, and they¿ll track you down to the ends of the earth to get a little helping of revenge. Brett Sawyer, a cussing, sex-starved nurse who long ago bonked her husband on the head and then set him on fire, is Hap¿s new love interest, and she¿s just as tough as he is. Then, there¿s Jim Bob Luke, a professional P.I. who reminded me just a little bit of Steven Seagal in his ability to go in and take out the bad guys in less than thirty seconds with no mercy shown. Mr. Lansdale¿s writing in BAD CHILI is like a cold Corona going down on a hot Texas day¿it makes you sigh with pure happiness when the last drop is finally swallowed. The story has more twists and turns than the Sabine River; and, as my late grandpappy would say, the trials and tribulations that Hap and Leonard go through would be enough to make a preacher cuss. BAD CHILI is definitely the real thing. It¿s the kind of book that adds a strong sense of joy to one¿s life and makes a reader glad that he¿s alive to have these kind of experiences. Needless to say, I¿ve already purchased the rest of the books in the series and intend on reading all of them within the next week or so. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2014

    Lorrie

    One of the BEST lol books ever !

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Bad fiction

    Not worth the paper it was printed on.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 20, 2013

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