Hap and Leonard are among my favorite fictional characters and I'm always excited to be reunited with them. Of Mice and Minestrone is fun and enlightening, especially if you're like me and wanted to know a bit more of Hap and Leonard's history.
The first few stories are from Hap's point of view and they added to my perspective of him. It seems that he was born with his sense of right and wrong. His parents are barely mentioned but they must have had a big impact on his life, because by his teen years he had a clear sense of what was justice and what wasn't. I enjoyed watching him put his beliefs into action, even when the end result wasn't what he expected.
The high points for me in this collection were two-fold-the first being THE SABINE WAS HIGH. We join with Hap as he picks up Leonard, fresh back from combat in Vietnam. I loved this story so much, because at its heart is a friendship between two people that shouldn't even be speaking to each other at that time in history, never mind being best friends. With Hap being a Vietnam War protester, and having gone to prison for his beliefs, everything we've ever been told about Texas, the South in general, about war protesters and war veterans, between straights and gays, all of it goes out the window. There is a true love there, transcending all the labels and ugly things, and that love is beautiful.
SPARRING PARTNER was the other standout tale for me. Both Hap and Leonard had experience boxing early on-just working out, and with Hap learning some martial arts moves. Here, though, the outside world learns a lot about the skills both of them possess. Filled with the humor and dialog that I have grown to love over the years, this story once again brought home Hap and Leonard's unique sense of justice.
There are 6 tales here, but the last one features Kasey Lansdale and some recipes for the foods eaten throughout this volume. Even the recipes are funny, "beat it like you're running from the police", (not an exact quote as I'm not allowed to quote directly from the book with an ARC), but you get the idea. It's not everyone that can make recipes funny.
I originally rated this 4 stars, but thinking about it overnight-I decided to change it to 5. I didn't think about the corona virus at all when reading this, and I read it over two days, but could easily have done it in one. I wanted to savor the experience. I think you should too! The only caveat to that would be that I recommend you reading the Hap and Leonard series in order. If you do, these tales will be that much more meaningful-providing insights into the lifelong friendship of Hap and Leonard.
My highest recommendation!
Available May 28th 2020, but you can pre-order here: OF MICE AND MINESTRONE
*Thank you to Tachyon Publications and NetGalley for providing an e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!