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Caught Stealing Hardcover – April 27, 2004

223 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Hank Thompson Series

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Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*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 Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (April 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034546477X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345464774
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,756,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charlie Huston is the author of the bestsellers The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death and The Shotgun Rule, as well as the Henry Thompson trilogy, the Joe Pitt casebooks, and several titles for Marvel Comics. He lives with his family in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Gary Griffiths VINE VOICE on October 6, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hank Thompson, a once California high school baseball star destined for the "bigs", is permanently sidelined in a stolen base gone bad, and now, some ten years later, is tending bar in New York City. Part time alcoholic and full time slacker - albeit a lovable slacker - Hank does a neighbor a small favor and as a result finds his previously ordinary life spinning wildly out of control through a .44 Magnum-sized case of mistaken identity. Hank, whose biggest previous concern was a remedy for sore feet and the fate of his San Francisco Giants, is now the target of a motley crew of Russian gangsters, assorted New York freaks, and dirty cops.

Give first-time author Charlie Huston lots of credit: his irreverent, hip, and uncensored delivery assaults the reader relentlessly and without apology. A poor man's Cormac McCarthy, Huston dispatches the goods with none of the poetry but all of the impact; a visceral personal tour of one man's worst nightmare. Huston's gradual transformation of Hank from the basically docile ordinary guy to a stone cold killer is jolting, and guaranteed to trash any plans for the weekend you may have had. And despite his found talent for violence, you'll find yourself still rooting for Hank who, as the mayhem surrounding him mounts, his most pressing issue remains the outcome of baseball's regular season.

Brutal, blunt, and gritty, Huston's "Caught Stealing" satisfies the deepest addictions of the pop thriller junkie. The first in a trilogy, "Stealing" was followed by the equally outrageous "Six Bad Things", and is scheduled to conclude with "A Dangerous Man" next year. If you're anything like me, you'll be anxiously waiting for Huston to wrap up Hank's crazed odyssey of blood lust and baseball.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on August 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
I love it when I find an author that thrills and excites me when I read their work. You know the one-your pulse quickens when you turn to page one and maintains until you finish the story. I hate it when I have to wait for the next installment of scintillating adventures. Charlie Huston is someone I've discovered, and I can't wait to read more and will follow his career with my hard-earned cash. Six Bad Things is the second book of a trilogy.

Former minor league baseball player Hank Thompson has a problem. He figured he'd be safe living the good life in Mexico with the $4 million he stole from the Russian Mafia just before leaving New York. Wrong! Now three years later a chatty Russian backpacker (who is actually a bounty hunter) is asking dangerous questions and Hank figures he'd best head back north. The lives of his family might well depend on it. On the way to taking care of business Hank will face a passel of bad guys who want to interrupt his trip. Nothing is easy for Hank.

I haven't read Caught Stealing yet, but you'd better believe I'll have it in my hands shortly. Then I'm going to settle in for what is probably going to be an entertaining ride, if it's anything like Six Bad Things.

If you like your suspense hard-boiled and don't mind violence, run, don't walk, to the bookstore. This book is fast-paced, exciting, believable and occasionally funny. Huston is a grand storyteller; you'll slip into the plot and buy into the "if this happened to me-well, that's just what I would do" mentality.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Larry VINE VOICE on May 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A very powerful narrative voice is what drives this debut novel which just so happens to be one of the best of the year so far. The author, Charlie Huston, is also a screenwriter and as expected the dialogue is dead on.
Hank Thompson is a bartender on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His life has been a bit of a disappointment in that he was slated to become a major league baseball player until he broke his leg. His humdrum existence comes to an abrupt end when Russ, a neighbor, leaves his cat with him while he visits his sick father for a few days or a few weeks. That night Hank gets so severely beaten up in a bar by two thugs that he requires surgery to remove a damaged kidney. This is just the beginning as Hank is chased, beaten, tortured for an unknown reason. As friends start to die, Hank realizes he must get to the bottom of the problem as his life depends on it.
Hank is a complex character. He is tormented by an accident in the past and, in a sense, continues to punish himself with guilt. He is a sympathetic figure to the reader in that it seems everybody else in the book is evil. Rooting for this underdog drives the rapid pacing as the thrills continue one after the other. It is difficult to put the book down until the highly satisfying conclusion. With the superb characterizations, realistic dialogue and riveting story line, CAUGHT STEALING is one of the most memorable debuts this year.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Rick Mitchell VINE VOICE on March 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the sequel to Huston's "Caught Stealing". "Caught Stealing" was a terrific thriller that kept a frenetic pace throughout and had terrific twists and turns in the plot.

"Six Bad Things" keeps the same frenetic pace. There were fewer twists and turns in the plot than its predecessor, although there were still many.

In both these books, the reader has to suspend reality for a bit - they both have the classic amateur beats the pros scenario. Even so, Huston keeps the book going at a fast clip and just believable enough so the reader does not get exasperated. His main character, Hank, who is always one half step ahead of the bad guys - except for the times when they catch up to him (!) - is a good and sympathetic character even as he begins his descent into violence. Huston's bad guys are all very good. The reader gets up close looks at all of them, and all have depth and character.

The best part of Huston's plot style are the many times Hank is put into Hobson Choice situations with one alternative worse than the other...or the third or the fourth.

The worst part of "Six Bad Things" is that I do not think it would be as nearly as good if the reader has not read "Caught Stealing". It may be able to stand alone, but knowing what went on in "Caught Stealing" and how Hank became who he is certainly improves this book. It is why this review is almost a review of both (I'd give "Caught Stealing" 5 stars for the more complex plot).

I would recommend this book alone, but highly recommend it for those who have already read "Caught Stealing". This is the second in a trilogy. I look forward to the third.
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