- Series: Henry Thompson (Book 1)
- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (May 31, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345464788
- ISBN-13: 978-0345464781
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 182 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Caught Stealing: A Novel (Henry Thompson) Paperback – May 31, 2005
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“Wow! Brutal, visceral, violent, edgy, and brilliant.”
—HARLAN COBEN, author of No Second Chance
“Caught Stealing reads like The Maltese Falcon on crack. Tarantino meets Hitchcock meets Westlake meets Bukowski in a wild, relentlessly entertaining ride filled with vivid and colorful—but always believable—characters.”
—WALLACE STROBY, author of The Barbed-Wire Kiss
“It’s hard enough for a writer to hit his mark, but Charlie Huston shreds his target with his first bullet fired. A frighteningly assured debut novel.”
—JOHN RIDLEY, author of Stray Dogs and The Drift
From the Inside Flap
It's three thousand miles from the green fields of glory, where Henry "call me Hank" Thompson once played California baseball, to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where the tenements are old, the rents are high, and the drunks are dirty. But now Hank is here, working as a bartender and taking care of a cat named Bud who is surely going to get him killed.
It begins when Hank's neighbor, Russ, has to leave town in a rush and hands over Bud in a carrier. But it isn't until two Russians in tracksuits drag Hank over the bar at the joint where he works and beat him to a pulp that he starts to get the idea: Someone wants something from him. He just doesn't know what it is, where it is, or how to make them understand he doesn't have it.
Within twenty-four hours Hank is running over rooftops, swinging his old aluminum bat for the sweet spot of a guy's head, playing hide and seek with the NYPD, riding the subway with a dead man at his side, and counting a whole lot of cash on a concrete floor.
All because of two cowboys, two Russian mafia men, and some of the weirdest goons ever assembled in one place. All because of Bud. All because once, in another life, in another world, the only thing Hank wanted was to take third base--without getting caught.
"From the Hardcover edition.
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182 customer reviews
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Caught Stealing is the first novel dealing with Hank Thompson, who is not a vampire living in New York City, but rather a bartender who once had a shot at the big leagues of baseball before injuring his leg. Now, Thompson has probably the worst luck of any fictional character I've ever read and maybe, just maybe, he reminds me a little bit of myself. Anyway, Hank Thompson is gliding along, keeping his head above water, surviving on day-to-day basis with sore feet and a steady hangover when his next-door neighbor (Russ) knocks on the door one day and gives him a large travel box for animals with Bud the cat in it, asking Hank to take care of his pet while he's out of town. No problem. If anything, Hank is a relatively nice guy and more than willing to help a friend in need. Naturally, things change for the worse a few days later when a number of unusual people start banging on Russ's door in a futile attempt to get hold of him. It isn't long, however, before they eventually start banging on Hank (and I mean this literally) in an effort to discover where Russ has taken off to. Evidently a large amount of money is missing and it looks like Russ is the one who took it. The guys looking for him (a crooked police officer, some Russian hoods, a redheaded psycho, and two very dangerous brothers who know how to hurt people) will do whatever it takes to track Russ down and Hank is all they have at the moment. Of course, Russ didn't run off with the money, and we're talking millions. He simply hid it in a storage unit somewhere in New York City and stuck the key in Bud's box. Before the story is over, however, Hank will be beaten up, his ex-girlfriend will be tortured and killed, and a number of his friends from the bar will be murdered. Still, it takes a lot more to happen before Hank finally decides to start fighting back. As he says when discovering the body of his dead girlfriend, "In a movie or a novel the guy would get mad and go on a killing rampage to get revenge, but all I wanted to do was to curl up under the table and go to sleep." When Hank does get mad enough, he quickly discovers that it's easier to kill somebody than he thought, and he's going to take out as many of the bad guys as possible before they do the tango on him.
Author, Charlie Huston, has a strange and unique style of writing (no quotation marks for the dialogue), but you get use to it rather quickly by getting caught up in the story and the somewhat unlikable character of Hank Thompson. I say unlikable because he's clearly a victim of bad luck and has to react to everything that happens to him. Most literally heroes tend to take the initiative and to act out of self-preservation by taking control of the situation that grips them like a fat lady holding a chicken wing. Hank doesn't do this till almost the end; but, boy, when he does, the bullets start flying. I think because of this his character is much more believable and that the average reader can certainly identify with him. I know that I did. Also, the author displays his extraordinary talent in character development by creating a long list of memorable figures like the two brothers, Ed & Paris, who dress up like cowboys and never hesitate when beating someone to death, or Roman the cop, who reminded me of Denzel Washington in Training Day. The characters of Caught Stealing are utterly realistic in their behavior and idiosyncrasies, the dialogue is smart and sharp and right on the mark, and the description of New York City will have you believing that you're actually there.
Charlie Huston is certainly an author to keep an eye on. I can't wait to start on the second book in the "Hank Thompson" series, Six Bad Things, so that I can find out what's happened to our reluctant hero and how he's holding up. Needless to say, this is a novel that I highly recommend!
This story is VERY well written. The writing is straightforward, conversational and quick. Even without the use of quotation marks or dialog attributions, I had no trouble following it. The writing is what got me to sit through seemingly endless gratuitous violence and the prolific use of the "f-word," (which actually doesn't bother me). I believed this is indeed how each of the characters, Hank, his shaky neighbor, the rotten cop, all the thugs, and Hank's co-horts at the bar where he worked until the first beating got the best of him, spoke this way. In other words, the use of voice is dead-on. Audible. Further, it made me glad I don't hang around in such circles. I don't think Hank ever expected to find himself in this situation either, which makes him all the more likable. We sympathize with him from the start because of his lost dream of being a major league baseball player and then, because of the death of his friend, who died in a car accident when Hank was behind the wheel. It also doesn't hurt that he continually checks in with his parents. In spite of the reeking, bleeding, killing character he becomes, Charlie Huston has the reader rooting for him until the end.
The baseball theme--and a fan's addiction to `his' team--is a clever ploy. (It ties in nicely with Hank's addiction to alcohol.) Bottom line: I simply had to keep turning pages to find out Hank's next move and whether or not his "adopted" cat, Bud, would make it through the ordeal as well. Ultimately, it seems the cat gets the most respect.
Michele Cozzens, Author of A Line Between Friends and The Things I Wish I'd Said.