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.