Category: Authors

JOE LANSDALE’S HAP AND LEONARD: An Overview by Scott Montgomery


THE EVOLUTION OF JOE LANSDALE’S HAP AND LEONARD by Scott Montgomery at CrimeReads is well worth a read.  If you’re already a fan, you might get a little more insight into the stories and if you’re not a fan, you should be.  Well done, Mr. Montgomery.

Our header art today is a detail from the cover of the Subterranean Press trade edition for Dead Aim and was created by Glen Orbik.

The Black Terror: Seduction of Deceit by Beau Smith & Chuck Dixon & Dan Brereton

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of The Black Terror: Seduction of Deceit mini-series written by Beau Smith & Chuck Dixon with art by Dan Brereton.  I’ve been calling for a nice trade reprint of the original series for years.  (Dan Brereton hinted that one may be coming in the next year.)  Even still, from time to time I need to remind everyone what a great series it was.

Consider this today’s reminder.  ; )

“Deliverance” Trivia!

Rob Hunter at Film School Rejects posted 31 Things We Learned from John Boorman’s ‘Deliverance’ Commentary.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorites…

9. Dickey took Boorman aside, made him promise not to repeat this, and said, “I’m going to tell you something I never told a living soul, everything in that book happened to me.” The director later learned that he did the same with other members of the cast and crew. “When I got into a canoe with James Dickey and he capsized it, I realized that nothing in this book had happened to him.”

(Dickey was not well liked on the set — there’s another quote in the piece that talked about Dickey’s drinking and interfering with the movie and Burt Reynolds has a funny response. – Craig)

15. “I had no doubles, no stuntmen,” says Boorman. “I don’t like the idea of stuntmen because if a shot is dangerous enough that you need a stunt man then you shouldn’t be doing it.” He acknowledges that there are exceptions including one instance where Voight was doubled (while Reynolds insisted on doing his part himself), but in general he prefers doing the scenes with the actual actors.

(Reynolds, as most folks know always wanted to do his own stunts and respected the stunt crew.  But stunts were not the only differences between Voight and Reynolds are you’ll see in the next quote. – Craig)

26. While Reynolds preferred to move quickly through every scene, Voight challenged almost every decision in need of explanation and reason which dragged things out. Voight would also require three minutes before shooting scenes where he’s meant to seem exhausted because he would run around the area to tire himself out. Reynolds, by contrast, would spritz his face to simulate sweat and then breath hard. Boorman found the two to be good influences on each other.

(They have two different schools of thoughts in preparing for a scene.  Some like to prepare, research and stay in character and others are able to just do it.  I can’t remember the actor and I’m paraphrasing but when asked how he was able to just jump into a scene and take on whatever emotion without first preparing, his response was, “I act.” – Craig)

Of Mice and Minestrone: Hap and Leonard: The Early Years by Joe R. Lansdale / Z-View

Of Mice and Minestrone: Hap and Leonard: The Early Years by Joe R. Lansdale

Trade Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Tachyon Publications

First sentence…

I must have been six or seven at the time, and it was an event that went on for years, this gathering of relatives.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Of Mice and Minestrone: Hap and Leonard: The Early Years contains five short stories about Hap and Leonard during their, you guessed it, early years.  As an added bonus, there’s a section titled Good Eats: The Recipes of Hap and Leonard by Kasey Lansdale (Joe’s daughter).  Let’s take a quick look at each…

The Kitchen is, as Lansdale says in the intro to the book, more of a vignette than short story.   Reading it you get a sense of where Hap got his moral foundation and why family is important to him.  If you’re lucky it will also bring back memories of another time when things moved slower and family get-togethers were special events.

Of Mice and Minestrone is divided into two parts.  In part one, Hap (a 16 year old high school student) has a run-in with a thugish man at a gas station.  Hap apologizes for his part, but the bully wants a fight.  When the thug’s wife tries to calm her husband by saying, “He’s just a kid.  He didn’t mean nothing -” it’s obvious she has overstepped.  The gas station owner comes out and the man and his wife leave.

Later, when Hap unexpectedly sees the woman in town he can tell that she’s been beaten up.  Hap wants to help her, but she’s afraid and Hap is just a kid.  Together they devise a plan to save her.  Part II Of Mice and Minestrone deals with the fallout from their plan and as you can guess things don’t end up all sunshine and roses.

The Watering Shed was a dive bar located a ways from town.  It was a rough place where you could get a drink even if you were under-age, if you had the cash.  Hap and Leonard had some coin and a hankering for a beer.  Had Leonard not been black, there wouldn’t have been a problem.  But he was and there was and it led to two murders.

In The Sparring Partner Hap and Leonard are offered some easy money to assist a promoter in getting his new fighter ready for his next match. Unfortunately the promoter isn’t on the level and his fighter is in waaay over his head.  Hap and Leonard could take their sparring partner money and walk away but we know that won’t happen.

The Sabine was High takes place when Leonard arrives home from Viet Nam and Hap has recently gotten out of prison (for refusing to be drafted). They go on an overnight fishing trip and share stories about the hell each of them has been through.

Good Eats: The Recipes of Hap and Leonard is exactly what you’d imagine, recipes for preparing food from the stories.

Of Mice and Minestrone: Hap and Leonard: The Early Years provides a look at events that shaped Hap and Leonard into the men they would become. You don’t have to be a H&L fan to enjoy the book, but if you are you’ll enjoy it all the more.  My favorite story gave the book it’s title.  Lansdale sets up a classic situation and then throws in twists along the way (doesn’t he always) that will leave you smiling at his storytelling ability and sad at the situations the characters are in.  There’s not a weak story in the book and even though I’m not much of a cook, I think I’ll give a recipe or two a shot.

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“Death on the Nile” – The Trailer is Here!

Although I’ve never read an Agatha Christie novel, I enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express starring Kenneth Branagh.  After seeing the trailer below for his return as Hercule Poirot (along with an all-star cast) in Death on the Nile, I’m looking forward to the sequel even more.

Maybe I should check out one of Christie’s novels. Hmmm.

Murder was just the beginning. Watch the new trailer for Death on the Nile, in theaters this October 23.

Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot’s Egyptian vacation aboard a glamorous river steamer turns into a terrifying search for a murderer when a picture-perfect couple’s idyllic honeymoon is tragically cut short. Set against an epic landscape of sweeping desert vistas and the majestic Giza pyramids, this tale of unbridled passion and incapacitating jealousy features a cosmopolitan group of impeccably dressed travelers, and enough wicked twists and turns to leave audiences guessing until the final, shocking denouement.

Death on the Nile reunites the filmmaking team behind 2017’s global hit Murder on the Orient Express, and stars five-time Academy Award® nominee Kenneth Branagh as the iconic detective Hercule Poirot. He is joined by an all-star cast of suspects, including: Tom Bateman, four-time Oscar® nominee Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders and Letitia Wright.

Death on the Nile is written by Michael Green, adapted from Christie’s novel, and is produced by Ridley Scott, Mark Gordon, Simon Kinberg, Kenneth Branagh, Judy Hofflund and Kevin J. Walsh, with Matthew Jenkins, James Prichard and Matthew Prichard serving as executive producers.

Criminal Deluxe Edition, Volume 3 by Brubaker & Phillips is Coming!

Fans of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips will be glad to hear that on October 27, 2020, the Criminal Deluxe Edition, Volume 3 Hardcover will be released!  I can’t wait.  Here’s what it will contain…

This oversized deluxe hardback collects several short stories and novellas from the most award-winning team in the history of comics in a fantastically-designed book full of extras — illustrations, selected articles, interviews, behind the scenes looks, painted covers… and much much more! Collects the SAVAGE SWORD OF CRIMINAL and DEADLY HANDS OF CRIMINAL magazines, the novellas MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES and BAD WEEKEND, and issues 1 and 4 of the newest run of the CRIMINAL monthly series, two full length short stories about the LAWLESS family.

A true collector’s edition must-have for any fan of the best in crime comics.

The Criminal Deluxe Edition, Volume 3 is available for pre-order now.  

Later Stephen King’s New Crime Thriller is Coming!

Stephen King is coming back with another Hardcase crime story.  Later will drop on March 2, 2021.  Here’s the synopsis…

#1 bestselling author Stephen King returns with a brand-new novel about the secrets we keep buried and the cost of unearthing them.

SOMETIMES GROWING UP
MEANS FACING YOUR DEMONS

The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine – as he discovers when an NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who has threatened to strike from beyond the grave.

LATER is Stephen King at his finest, a terrifying and touching story of innocence lost and the trials that test our sense of right and wrong. With echoes of King’s classic novel It, LATER is a powerful, haunting, unforgettable exploration of what it takes to stand up to evil in all the faces it wears.

Pre-orders are available now!

More Better Deals by Joe R. Lansdale / Z-View

More Better Deals by Joe R. Lansdale

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Mulholland Books

First sentence…

I folded the check and put it in my shirt pocket and tried not to grin.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Ed Edwards is a used car salesman and a big believer in buyer beware.  Ed’s not above rolling back an odometer, telling little lies or flirting with a customer if it means a sale.  Ed’s doing okay, but is okay ever enough?  Ed dreams of bigger things than being top salesman in a two man used car lot.

When Ed’s boss sends him to repossess a Cadillac, he meets Nancy.  At first Ed just wants the caddy, but Nancy is beautiful and flirty.  When Nancy invites Ed in for a drink, he doesn’t hesitate.  Sure, she’s married, but that’s on her, right?  Unhappily married as it turns out.  Even better.  One thing leads to another and before too long Ed and Nancy’s hot affair turns to thoughts of murder.

See if Nancy’s big, dumb brute of a husband wasn’t in the picture, she and Ed could make some real money with the drive-in and pet cemetery businesses that her husband owns.  You can guess the rest… except you can’t because Joe Lansdale is writing this tale!

Joe crafts More Better Deals with the dark humor and memorable characters that we’ve come to expect from this master storyteller.  I blazed through loving every page and unexpected twist.  If you’re a fan of noir and stories like The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity then More Better Deals is for you.  (And don’t say I didn’t warn you about a scene so creepy it will stay with you for days!)

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Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry / Z-View

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Hardcover: 458 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

First sentence…

Benny Imura couldn’t hold a job, so he took to killing.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Rot & Ruin is the first in a five book series geared to teens and young adults.  Set nearly a decade and a half after the zombie apocalypse, humanity is still struggling.  Most of the surviving humans live in small fortified strongholds fenced away from the “rot and ruin” of the zombie wastelands.

Benny Imura was just 18 months old the night the zombies rose.  Both of Benny’s parents were killed. Benny would have been as well if his teenage half-brother, Tom hadn’t saved him. For that Benny has never forgiven Tom.  Benny believes Tom is a coward for running away and not trying to save his parents.

Benny spends his days talking with friends (especially Nix, a girl that has a crush on him) and dreaming about life beyond the fences that protect them.  He looks up to the bounty hunters that venture into the rot and ruin to find food, supplies and lost souls.  Benny thinks that maybe one day he’ll become a bounty hunter.

When it is discovered that a group of bounty hunters have killed two of the townspeople and kidnapped Nix, Tom and Benny head out into the rot and ruin hoping to save her.

Maberry scores again!  I look forward to reading the other books in the series.  (PS – If I was a younger reader I know I would have scored Rot & Ruin even higher.)

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Midnight of the Soul / Z-View

Midnight of the Soul is a paperback that collects the five issue mini-series published by Image Comics.

Writer: Howard Chaykin
Artist: Howard Chaykin
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letters by: Ken Bruzenak
Cover Artist: Howard Chaykin

*** Beware – spoilers may be found below ***

Joel Breakstone, a GI liberator of Buchenwald and brutally damaged goods, follows a path of vengeance that leads to redemption in a violent journey into his own heart of darkness―in a spiritual adventure from comics’ contemporary master of crime and punishment, HOWARD CHAYKIN.

Joel Breakstone is having a bad night.  Of course every day and night since coming back from the war five years ago has been rough.  Breakstone can’t shake the memory of an incident that nearly killed him.  He and his buddy had come upon a Nazi about to execute a POW.  A shootout occurred and when the smoke cleared his buddy, the POW and the Nazi were dead and Breakstone was severely wounded.  He lived, but came home with a drinking problem.

But back to Breakstone’s bad night – After a bad argument with his wife, she leaves for work. Breakstone while looking for some booze finds evidence that his wife has been working as a hooker.  Still half drunk, Breakstone grabs his gun and jumps on his motorcyle to find her.

His wife is with one of her best clients, a musician under contract to mobsters.  Suddenly a man busts in and kills the musician.  Breakstone’s wife barely escapes.

Breakstone is on the hunt for his wife.  The killer and the cops are also looking for her.  Before the night is over she will be found.  Who will get to her first?  And will it matter?

I’m a big fan of Howard Chaykin stories and art.  Often Chaykin doesn’t hold back on the adult situations in his tales and this is one of those. If that’s offensive, this yarn isn’t for you.

Midnight of the Soul has a lot going on besides the hunt for Breakstone’s wife.  There is also the mystery of why the musician was murdered.  Plus Breakstone’s foggy memory of the incident that left 3 people dead and nearly killed him.  All will be resolved before the night is over.

I like that the action takes place over the course of one night.  As Breakstone tracks down his wife his journey takes him across the city to strip bars, diners, and jazz clubs.  Along the way we meet a wide variety of characters some who are also looking for Breakstone’s wife.

Chaykin is at the top of his game with the art in Midnight of the Soul.  Jesus Aburtov’s colors enhance the story without drawing attention to his work in a “look at these hues” sort of way.  Often I think Chaykin’s art works best in black and white, but not this time!  The story reminds me of an old movie with a modern sensibility (or an “R” rating).  Chaykin’s heroes, or in this case, anithero, don’t always do the noble thing, but they do what is right for their character.


Rating:

Shaker by Scott Frank / Z-View

Shaker by Scott Frank

Hardcover: 335 pages
Publisher: Knopf

First sentence…

A swarm of nearly seven hundred small earthquakes – most in the 2.0 to 3.0 range – rattled the Mojave Desert between June and September.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Following a major earthquake, Ray Cooper is sent to LA to kill a man.  Cooper has the experience and a reputation for getting the job done efficiently without blowback.  Despite the chaos the quake caused, the hit goes well.  As Cooper walks back to his car he stumbles on to a mugging. Given the option, Cooper would prefer to keep walking, but the muggers see him and things quickly escalate. An old man is killed and Cooper is shot twice as the gangbangers run away.

It doesn’t take long for the police to show up at the hospital where Cooper is recovering.  A video surfaced showing Cooper standing up to the hoods as they kill the old man. Cooper is seen as a hero!  The press is running with this angle and the video has gone viral (which is the last thing a hit man would want).  The cops and the press have questions.  Cooper knows that it won’t be long before the police are able to figure out his alibi for being in the area doesn’t hold water.  Once that happens it’s an easy connection to the man he executed a few blocks away.  Despite his weakened condition Cooper has to go on the run.

Running won’t be easy.  The gangbangers that Cooper disrespected (for the world to see thanks to the viral video), want revenge.  The cops want Cooper for questioning.  And Cooper knows that someone far scarier than him has been sent to LA to “fix” the situation.

Scott Frank has created a crime novel with twists you won’t see coming by developing a believable cast of characters.  Many authors hint at backstory, but Frank has the ability to move the story forward while at the same time showing us past events that have shaped the characters.  I look forward to more novels from Scott Frank.

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“Killadelphia Volume 1: Sins of the Father” / Z-View

Killadelphia Volume 1: Sins of the Father is a paperback that collects issues 1 – 6 of an on-going series published by Image Comics. .

Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander
Colorist: Luis NCT
Letters by: Marshall Dillon
Cover Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander & Luis NCT 

*** Beware – spoilers may be found below ***

Featuring the show-stopping talents of Spawn series artist JASON SHAWN ALEXANDER, and the writer behind such hit shows as Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Marvel’s Runaways, and Starz’s American Gods–RODNEY BARNES.

When a small town beat cop comes home to bury his murdered father-the revered Philadelphia detective James Sangster Sr.-he begins to unravel a mystery that leads him down a path of horrors and shakes his beliefs to their core.

The city that was once the symbol of liberty and freedom has fallen prey to corruption, poverty, unemployment, brutality…
…and vampires.

But the mystery goes even further when Jimmy’s investigation leads him to uncover the source of the outbreak is long-thought dead President of the United States John Adams–a man secretly biding his time as he builds an undead army to start a new and bloodier American revolution.

There’s a reason they coin a phrase, “you can’t go home.” Welcome to Killadelphia.

Collects KILLADELPHIA #1-6

Killadelphia is a book you should be reading if you like intelligently written and beautifully drawn horror comics.

Rodney Barnes’ idea of a modern day vampire uprising in Philadelphia led by a centuries old founding father is so audacious that we’re lucky Barnes took his story past the idea stage.   Killadelphia is a very cool, very creepy tale that paints a big picture universe introduced to us through believable characters who find themselves in an unbelievable situation.

Modern day vampires?  Yeah, right.  Read Killadelphia and you’re response will become: Modern day vampires?  Yeah!  Right!

Jason Shawn Alexander provides realistic art for Killadelphia which supports the story;  you believe what you’re seeing.  The characters look like real people (some of whom are vampires).  Alexander has drawn scenes that will creep you out and perhaps inspire nightmares… which is exactly what great horror fiction should do.  I hope that Barnes and Alexander stay together as long as Killadelphia tales are told.

Luis NCT’s colors provide nuance and emphasis that enhance each scene and his contribution to the success of Killadelphia shouldn’t be overlooked.

I thought that Killadelphia would be a good comic.  I underestimated it.  Killadelphia is an exceptional comic and one all horror fans should try.


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Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out / Z-View

Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out is a four-issue mini-series and paperback published by Dark Horse Comics. .

Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Gyula Nemeth
Colorist: Gyula Nemeth
Letters by: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover Artist: Gyula Nemeth 

*** Beware – spoilers may be found below ***

I first became aware of Steve Niles nearly two decades ago.  Niles was the author of two novels (Savage Membrane and Guns, Drugs & Monsters) featuring Cal McDonald that I highly recommend.

McDonald is a tough as nails detective who deals with things that go bump in the night. After the two novels, McDonald appeared in a number of comic book mini-series written by Niles teaming with different artists.  And that brings us to Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out

Supernatural detective Cal McDonald, found wandering the streets as a disheveled vagrant, is ripped from his self-imposed retirement to resume his monster-killing career.

But Cal is reluctant to return to the fray. What has the hard-bitten investigator so shaken? It’s a long story that begins with a beautiful woman who happens to be a vampire . . . and ends with a bang.

It’s great to have Cal McDonald back.  Who doesn’t love a cynical tough guy who sees the real monsters that walk among us?

The Big Bleed Out follows McDonald as he meets and begins to fall for a mysterious woman who happens to be a vampire.  The romance doesn’t seem to have much of a chance since McDonald is normally a vampire killer.  Meanwhile, Mo’Lock, McDonald’s quasi partner, has gone into the sewers of LA to see if he can discover who/what is down there killing people.

Being a Cal McDonald fan I was excited to see his return.  This was my first time seeing Nemeth’s art and I liked quite a bit of what he brought to the table.  It was interesting to see McDonald falling under the spell of a vampiress and unintentionally venturing into a nest of them.  The romance and its eventual outcome moved at a pretty quick pace with a few surprises along the way.  And let’s not forget that Mo’Lock has his hands full with a sewer monster!  Overall, this was a fun read.

Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out is a nice addition to the Cal McDonald universe.


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“Jaws” Trivia!

Dan Grant, at Top 10 Films, in honor of the 45th anniversary of the release of the first summer blockbuster presents: 45 Things About “Jaws” You Might Not Know.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorite Jaws facts as well as my thoughts on each…

4. Richard Dreyfuss’ casting – Richard Dreyfuss originally turned down the role of Hooper because he thought making the movie would be a pain in the ass. After he saw himself on big screen in the Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz he thought he was so awful that his career would be over and he immediately called Steven Spielberg to ask if he could have the role.

(Funny the difference a day or perceived poor performance can make. – Craig)

9. Percy Rodriguez’s iconic trailer voice-over – Percy Rodriguez did the voice-over in the trailer for Jaws. When the producers first came to him, they wanted an upbeat, happy-sounding and almost adventurous voice-over for the trailer. It was Percy’s idea to have a darker and brooding and ominous sounding tone. It worked a treat.

He eventually got his way and many people credit lines in the trailer like “there is a creature that is alive today which has survived millions of years of evolution” and “it was as if God created the devil and gave him (dramatic pause) Jaws”, as major reasons why people flocked to the theatre to see it.

(Watching the “Jaws” trailer attached to this fact at Grant’s post it reminded me of how, in the pre-internet days, important a trailer was to the success of a film.  The “Jaws” trailer made you want to see the film.  Much credit needs to go to Percy Rodriguez.  He was right to push for a darker, more ominous tone! – Craig)

14. Dreyfuss’ surprise – Richard Dreyfuss was so disillusioned with the movie that after his time on set was done, he proceeded to trash it on several different talk shows in the United States. But when he saw the film opening day, after he left the theatre, he jumped into Roy Scheider’s arms and exclaimed “He did it! He did it!” Roy asked him who he meant and he said “Spielberg, Spielberg actually did it!”

(Sounds like Dreyfuss was going through a period of seeing the glass half-full.  He only agreed to star in “Jaws” because he thought he was so terrible in his previous film that he wouldn’t be offered more roles.  Then filming wraps on “Jaws” and Dreyfess downplays how good it is… until he sees it with an audience. – Craig)

Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins Returns in BLOOD GROVE!

What’s that you say? Walter Mosley has a new Easy Rawlins novel coming out in February!

Please, tell me more.  Well, it’s called Blood Grove.  And..

Ezekiel “Easy” Porterhouse Rawlins is an unlicensed private investigator turned hard-boiled detective always willing to do what it takes to get things done in the racially charged, dark underbelly of Los Angeles.

But when Easy is approached by a shell-shocked Vietnam War veteran- a young white man who claims to have gotten into a fight protecting a white woman from a black man – he knows he shouldn’t take the case.

Though he sees nothing but trouble in the brooding ex-soldier’s eyes, Easy, a vet himself, feels a kinship form between them. Easy embarks on an investigation that takes him from mountaintops to the desert, through South Central and into sex clubs and the homes of the fabulously wealthy, facing hippies, the mob, and old friends perhaps more dangerous than anyone else.

Set against the social and political upheaval of the late 1960s, BLOOD GROVE is ultimately a story about survival, not only of the body but also the soul.

Widely hailed as “incomparable” (Chicago Tribune) and “dazzling” (Tampa Bay Times), Walter Mosley proves that he’s at the top of his game in this bold return to the endlessly entertaining series that has kept fans on their toes for years.

Ok, I’m in for the hardcover. (Some folks prefer the Kindle.)  Either way, Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins novels never disappoint.