52Books: Caught Stealing by Charlie Huston

How I stumbled onto the name or the works of Charlie Huston, I can’t really say. It was a bit of happenstance. Possibly browsing the web, scouring through domain names (for a while finding and buying URLs was a habit) or possibly just following links from one author to another.

At any rate over the holidays I picked up three Charlie Huston books: Caught Stealing, Already Dead and The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death. I chose to read Caught Stealing first based on follow up recommendations.

I was warned and I pass this on to you, that Charlie Huston writes writes in a unique first person style. It might take some getting used to, but it also really works.

Caught Stealing is the first of three novels in the Hank Thompson series.

Henry “Hank” Thompson was a one time California baseball player destined for the majors until he is caught stealing … bases. The event which resulted in a career ending injury. But that’s not how the book begins.

No, Caught Stealing shoves your face into the hard dirty action to come by introducing  you to a drunk, washed up, beaten up and nearly dying Hank Thompson, bartender and alcoholic living, if you can call it that, in New York City. Hank wakes up pissing blood. Not a great way to start a day, but gives the reader clarity of what to expect from Huston’s novel.

Huston takes his protagonist on a violent roller coaster ride encountering corrupt cops, Russian mafia and ganstas and lots of death around ever twist and turn. By the end, Hank has done more than one loopty-loop turning his life upside down, making you believe there is no way he can come out safe or sound.

Caught Stealing is a fast paced crime novel that makes you want to root for Hank despite the choices he ends up making.

The book has sold me on Hank Thompson and Charlie Huston. So expect more in the near future.