In the excellent OF MICE AND MINESTRONE, Joe R. Lansdale provides further proof of Hap and Leonard’s innate humanity and inherent likability

Joe R. Lansdale’s OF MICE AND MINESTRONE – HAP AND LEONARD: THE EARLY YEARS continues to garner raves.

At MANHATTAN BOOK REVIEW, Philip Zozarro praises the collection.

Joe Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard never cease to interest the reader. The situations they start and end up in are amply filled with humor, wisdom, and heart. The early years provide the reader with more proof of the two characters’ innate humanity and inherent likability. No matter the trouble they find, their loyalty is to each other and what’s right, which makes every story stronger. An excellent addition to a great collection.

Eric J. Guignard for GINGER NUTS OF HORROR feels much the same.

All-in-all, an excellent pairing of crime writing tales, blood-soaked friendship, and Southern grits. Five out of Five stars.

MORE 2 READ concurs.

As always Joe Lansdale signature telling with characters, actions, and words, potent and vivid, ones to crack a smile on a dull day and stir a heart with nostalgic immersion in a scene.


In between “The Watering Shed” and “The Sabine Was High,” Leonard enlists Hap to work as a sparring partner in the aptly titled “Sparring Partner.” Hap and Leonard are both decent amateur boxers. The small-time promoter who hires them has a history of finding black boxers to match against white boxers. The promoter doesn’t really care if the boxers are good, a callous attitude that places his boxers at risk. The trainer knows better but wants to keep his job. The story culminates in Leonard switching places with an untalented boxer and going up against a slow but monstrous brute. This might be the best boxing story I’ve ever read, but apart from the fight itself, the story addresses collateral characters who confront moral dilemmas and, in a couple of cases, make a selfless choice. This is a heartwarming story and my favorite in the volume.

The collection ends with recipes for southern delicacies (chili and pies and the like) that appear in the stories. Not being much of a cook, I can’t comment on whether they are good, but they did make me hungry for pie.