From Publishers Weekly
There's no end to Hank Thompson's troubles. Once a star high school baseball player, he's now reduced to tending bar at a neighborhood dive on Manhattan's Lower East Side. During his long life-skid, Thompson has picked up a drinking problem, a pair of bad feet, lots of debt and little ambition. But for Thompson, hero of Huston's dark, hard-driving debut, the worst is still ahead. It begins when Thompson agrees to cat-sit for his neighbor, a dubious character named Russ. Within a few days, Thompson is ambushed by a pair of Russian thugs who beat him so badly he has to have a kidney removed. While he's recovering, he discovers a key tucked under the liner of the cat's carry box. This turns out to be a crucial bit of information, as he realizes when the Russians return, led this time by a dirty police detective, and demand to know what Russ left with Thompson besides his cat. When they're spooked by a fire alarm, Thompson escapes long enough to get his hands on the stash everyone's after: $4.5 million in cash. But of course, his troubles aren't over. Bodies pile up at a dizzying rate but the mayhem is riveting, despite a few credibility gaps. Huston shows a masterful command of first-person narration, deftly chronicling Thompson's gradual slide from victim to avenger ("I'm tellin' you, Hank, watchin' you, it's like watchin' a egg get all hard-boiled. No shit"). The story moves with the speed of the best chase novels, and Thompson possesses a self-deprecating spirit that will keep readers rooting for him even as he edges closer to the point of no return.
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*Starred Review* This engaging debut novel delivers fresh, jazzy riffs on the innocent-man-stumbling-into-jeopardy genre. Having fled California for New York City after an injury cut short his promising baseball career, Hank Thompson settles into an aimless life as an alcoholic bartender. Still, Hank prides himself on making Manhattan a bit more hospitable by helping his friends, so how can he refuse when a neighbor asks him to cat-sit? One lost kidney later, Hank realizes that an Elmore Leonardesque collection of Russian mobsters, short-fused cons, and renegade cops will snuff out all 10 lives he and the cat share between them if that's what it takes to find the not-so-good neighbor. His dull wits sharpened by pain and fear, Hank must keep one bum foot out of the grave long enough to figure out what the bad guys are looking for--and how to give it up safely. With a mania familiar to baseball die-hards, Hank keeps an eye on the playoff-contending San Francisco Giants even as he makes several potentially game-ending errors of his own. This polished debut promises a bright future for Huston and definitely belongs on every Elmore Leonard fan's to-read list. One note of caution: Lovers of mystery-solving felines should place paws over eyes during the hair-raising cat torture scene. Frank SennettCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved