Finished: Devil Red by Joe R. Lansdale, 2011, 9780307270986.
Problem #1: As I read the dialogue I realized what an excellent job the regular audio narrator does. My reading would slow as I imagined the narrator's cadence and twang for Hap and Leonard.
Problem #2: No problem.
Spoilers will follow. Hap and Leonard are doing okay. They have some money left over from the last novel, Vanilla Ride, and are also working for Marvin. Marvin is retired and running his own detective agency. Hap and Leonard do the scut work. Hap and Leonard always do the scut work.
Marvin is hired to investigate the killing of an elderly woman's son. Woman is accompanied by Journalist. (Journalist similar to lead character from Leather Maiden but I have not looked to see if he is the same dude). Elderly Woman's son was killed in the woods with his girlfriend. Marvin takes the case and the big check that goes with it. H&L assigned to look into the case some more. H&L make wisecracks. H&L always make wisecracks.
Elderly Woman's dead son's Dead Girlfriend was previously involved in a murder case. H&L visit parent of victim from that case. Weird graffitti scene on crime scene photos researched by journalist. Journalist finds other murder cases with same graffitti. H&L and others get uneasy. H&L and others wonder about serial killer or revenge on all involved in first murder case. Leonard eats vanilla cookies. Leonard always eats vanilla cookies.
H&L find connection between first Dead Girl's Father and bad guy from Vanilla Ride. Bad Guy is questioned. Leonard pisses Bad Guy off on purpose. Leonard is always pising people off on purpose. Things happen. Hap has mental breakdown after discovering a dead guy. Hap is questioning his life, his past actions, his "who am I, what do I do?" Hap is always question his "who am I?"
Violence ensues. Wisecracks ensue. Sexual intercourse ensues several times. Leonard is shot. Vanilla Ride reappears to say that Dead Girl's Father is a master assassin getting revenge. Hap gets his own revenge with assistance from Vanilla. Vanilla drives off into the night. H&L bond. H&L always bond.
1. The situation with the woman hiring Marvin felt thin. I presume Lansdale just wanted to get Hap and Leonard moving on the story. Same with Journalist who works with H&L; he was there to fill gaps in knowledge and bone chicks. Same with Master Assassin Dead Girl's Father. But, none of that mattered while reading the story. Only afterwards, as I write this do those parts of the story seem like a stretch. Lansdale puts everything together and I joyfully suck it all up.
2. Dr. Pepper love.
3. Gratuitous .38 Super.
4. Ripping on nitpicking gun nerds.
5. I'm thinking Lansdale really likes Vanilla Ride to have brought her back.
6. Leonard is incapable of staying in a relationship. Lansdale doesn't give him anyone anyway; Leonard's current beau is trying to ungay himself and never makes an appearance.
7. Aging heroes love. How old would H&L be in real life? Leonard was in Vietnam, right?
8. How much longer could this have been? Did Lansdale have a page limit based n publisher demand? Genre demand? Audience expectation?
9. Lansdale is a Facebook posting maniac.
10. Come to me my glass of iced Dewar's. i will type one handed and press publish
EDIT: 11. There was an online discussion (probably on Patti Abbott's site) about how sidekick characters in novels do the bad guy stuff. (Leonard is not a sidekick but since Hap narrates he sorta fits.) Lead protagonists play the conscience. H&L fit that format.
EDIT: 12. Gratuitous Italian love via Vanilla Ride.