It all starts with a mummified show dog that’s been kidnapped. Hap Collins and Leonard Pine, troublemakers on the side of the angels, are hired to recover the dog, but they suspect there’s something amiss about this deal, and boy, are they ever right. What’s meant to be a quick trade of cash for canine corpse turns out to be part of a bigger mystery, one that threatens to put Hap and Leonard behind bars.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed this brief outing with Lansdale’s flagship duo, I was hoping it would last a little longer, as Lansdale’s crackling dialogue and the intriguingly peculiar premise were playing together quite nicely. This story had some meat on it, and the conclusion felt rushed.
Also, for anyone who read Honky Tonk Samurai — the duo’s previous novel-length outing — don’t expect any insight into that book’s final twist. Coco Butternut seems to start sometime afterward, with no mention of the events of that book, save for Chance’s inclusion here. I found that omission more than a little jarring.
That being said, this is a fun little visit with Hap and Leonard, though not quite as satisfying a novella as Hyenas or Dead Aim.
Joe R. Lansdale