Reviewed by John Glover, Reference Librarian for the Humanities
Hank Thompson, protagonist of Charlie Huston's slam-bang neo-noir, has not had an easy life. From a baseball accident that ended a promising career to a car crash that left him unable to drive to the bottles of booze that fill his apartment, this strangely gentle man never really caught a break. He was doing OK, though, until his neighbor left town and gave Hank his cat to watch... and the key hidden at the bottom of the cat's litter box. Various people come looking for the key, and that's when the fun begins.
The novel stands up next to James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia or Scott Smith's A Simple Plan, in both the dark settings and the violence. The seedy world of the characters includes beatings, shootings, robbery, torture, and worse yet. In this environment, it's not a question of whether a good man will go bad, but the manner in which it will happen, and how bad he'll go. Huston's narration and use of the first-person viewpoint is gripping, conveying the thoughts and fears of Hank Thompson very well. The plot twists and turns to some extent, but the action and violence of this story are what will keep you reading until 2 a.m.