Get ready for a ride with mystery series at the library

For my money, there are few literary experiences more enjoyable than discovering a new mystery series. New characters to meet, new thrills and plot twists and, best of all, numerous books just waiting to be read, one right after another.

If you love discovering new series, here are two you might want to try.

“The Hap and Leonard” series by Joe R. Lansdale

Trouble just seems to find Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. And thank goodness for that.

At first glance, Hap and Leonard seem to have little in common — Hap is straight, white, generally laid back and does his best to avoid needless conflict. (He even served time in federal prison for opposing the draft.) Leonard is a gay, black, short-tempered ex-soldier who generally views violence as an acceptable and effective tool for dealing with humanity in general. Despite these differences, however, the two are closer than brothers and fiercely loyal to one another.

Over the course of eight novels and two novellas, the wisecracking, rough-and-tumble pals manage to find themselves in all sorts of scrapes, brawls and dangerous situations, taking on killers, kidnappers and criminals of all stripes. And while Hap and Leonard may not always follow the letter of the law in the course of their adventures, their moral compasses always point (more or less) due north. 

Be forewarned, the series may not be everyone’s cup of tea, routinely serving up Texas-sized helpings of profanity, earthiness, blood and mayhem. But if you’re game for a wild ride, and like your heroes with sharp wits and rough edges, give Hap and Leonard a try. The first book in the series is “Savage Season,” but many fans feel the series really starts to hit its stride with the second installment, “Mucho Mojo.”

“The Moe Prager” series by Reed Farrel Coleman

The “ex-cop-turned-private-investigator” formula has been trotted out endlessly (and often badly), so any author taking a stab at it better bring something new to the table. Author Coleman does just that in his “Moe Prager” series, combining fine writing, absorbing plots and uncommon soulfulness and emotional depth.

Moe Prager didn’t want to quit the NYPD, but an absurd, freak accident (slipping on a stray piece of carbon paper) puts an abrupt end to his promising career. Moe drifts into his brother’s fledgling wine business, but his heart isn’t really in it and he starts taking on the occasional private investigation.

The first entry in the series, “Walking the Perfect Square,” takes place in the late 1970s, and subsequent books follow Prager over the years, during which he not only solves mysteries but grapples with marriage, family, work, faith, health and all of life’s other challenges and struggles. The decades-spanning series also allows Coleman to explore the ongoing consequences (sometimes devastating) of Prager’s past choices. 

Coleman has featured Moe Prager in eight novels thus far, and has indicated that the ninth book in the series, due in 2014, will be the last.

Contract Publishing

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