SIX BAD THINGS by Charlie Huston


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Huston returns with a bang-banger even gorier than his debut (Caught Stealing, 2004).

It’s been three years since Hank Thompson, in said debut and accompanied by Bud the cat, hightailed it out of New York with a $4 million swag, ownership of which remains in dispute. Hank says the money belongs to him because he “killed for it,” but the Russian Mafia argues a prior claim. At any rate, here’s Hank sequestering in Mexico, leading the ex-pat life he favors due mostly to its lack of incident. He swims, he fishes, he hangs out at a bar he half-owns, and then one day a back-packer named Mickey shows up. Mickey the kid. Mickey the Russian kid. Mickey (aka Mikhail) the ambitious kid of a Mafia father. Hank has to hightail it again, this time leaving Bud behind. Mickey, too, actually—the first of many to pay a stiff price for rampaging greed, and for threatening harm to Hank’s parents, whom he has always adored. Now he decides the only way to keep them safe is to make them unimportant again: that is, to give up the money, return it to the Russians. One problem: he’s lost track of it. The trusted friend in whose custody he’d placed it has stopped returning phone calls. Leaving behind a blood-drenched trail—the Russians have been joined by an array of rapacious others—Hank wends his way to Las Vegas. Bullets fly, more people die—good people, too, some of them—and finally Hank faces the one-on-one that was always in the cards for him. And in an ironic twist learns what it’s like to be valued for what he hates most about himself.

A crime thriller so relentlessly violent that it could make even the hard-core hard-boiled amenable to the leavening touch of Agatha Christie. Still, a page-turner.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-345-46479-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2005


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