I love Joe Lansdale regardless of what he writes. And I love Hap and Leonard to the extent that after I've purchased whatever their latest outing may be, I resist the temptation to read it, instead saving it for a time when I feel down, when I finally crack it secure in the knowledge that it will make me feel better regardless of how bad I might actually feel to begin with. It's surely a rare author who can perform that function, and I bless Joe Lansdale for it.
I've read all the Hap & Leonards, and while they are never less than good, within the bounds of that description the quality of the novels can vary a little, which is eminently forgivable for a very prolific writer engaged with a long-running series. For me, Captains Outrageous is the weakest entry overall and there are some elements of Vanilla Ride that don't quite ring true, while Mucho Mojo and The Two-Bear Mambo are utterly magisterial throughout.
But this novella, Dead Aim, and the one that preceded it, Hyenas, are both massively enjoyable, funny, gripping, fat-free and super-tight. You can read each one in a couple of hours straight through, and they are absolutely top-flight Hap & Leonard, no question. Back on form? Yep. It feels like Lansdale is really enjoying H & L's company in fullness again, which means we can too. The Dixie Mafia are getting interesting now, and one wonders if Jim Bob Luke will be around again soon. Can't wait for the next full-lengther.