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I stated when we started The Hard Word that it would occasionally veer from crime fiction and westerns. I should have predicted it would be Joe Lansdale who would be the first person to lead me astray. The man is practically his own genre and here he gives us an action-adventure, sci-fi-horror, comedy, musical-if-it-could, Bubba and The Cosmic Blood-Suckers.

The book serves as a prequel to his loved short story, Bubba Ho-Tep, where a geriatric Elvis fought a mummy in a rest home with a man who thinks he's JFK. In Blood-Suckers, we learn this was not the first time he fought monsters. While being the king of rock n' roll, Presley was part of a covert government team lead by Col. Tom Parker to take care of cosmic and supernatural threats. Other members include Memphis Mafia bud Johnny Smack, a psychic blind man, a hammer wielding descendent of John Henry, strategy expert Jack, and Jenny Jo Dallas, a pop star on the rise. Their adversaries are spheres of flesh, blood, and ugly from another dimension with vampiric powers. Operating out of New Orleans junkyard, they serve a queen referred to as Big Momma. If you're not on board, I don't want to know you.

After an effective introduction to the horror of the blood suckers, the story takes it's time setting up the story the characters, but with Lansdale's fun style of prose and dialogue, it is time well spent. Soon enough, he takes off running and pulls out all the stops with fighting and craziness that includes ghost sex and Elvis Evel Knieveling a pink Cadillac into another dimension. Let's see Jonathan Franzen top that.

With all the four color comic weirdness, Joe keeps it all grounded with his take on Presley. He's trapped in his career as entertainer and monster fighter, with the Colonel holding something over him. With even sex being a numbing activity, he's close to burning out. One could understand why he might switch identities with an Elvis impersonator soon. Yet he also taps into the legend and charisma, when he goes into action. As the story develops, it makes sense why he is on the team. I could just read pages of him and Johnny bullshitting.

Bubba And The Cosmic Blood-Suckers is the best b-movie never made. Joe Lansdale pulls from several genres, once again making something his own and entertaining. Like The King, Mamma Lansdale's favorite boy takes care of business.

You can order Bubba And The Cosmic Blood Suckers here

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