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by Charlie Huston
Ballantine Books, April 2004
256 pages
ISBN: 034546477X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Henry 'Hank' Thompson is running away once again. When he got injured playing baseball, he ran. When he killed his best friend, accidentally, in a car wreck, he ran. Now, having been given his friend's cat, Bud, Hank is really running. But this time, he's running from a crooked cop named Roman, two Russian mafia gay hitmen, a red-headed Chinese junkie, two brothers named Ed and Paris, and the entire New York City police force.

CAUGHT STEALING is a darkly-told tale of how a man's life changes when forced to confront all these enemies on their terms. Brutal, violent, dark, this story really moves.

It opens with the Russian hitmen going to Paul's, a local New York bar, buying cosmopolitans, then complaining about the way they were made. Trying to avoid a confrontation, Hank offers them free drinks. When Hank gets off work, the two Russians mug him, asking him where the key is at. Not knowing anything, they beat him senseless.

When he awakes, he finds that he is in deep trouble. It seems his neighbor and friend Russ has ripped off $4 million from several bad people. Now, these people are looking for Russ, who vanished up to Buffalo, leaving Hank with his cat, Bud. While cleaning out Bud's carrier, Hank comes across the mysterious key. Enter Bolo, a huge, gentle giant, who works for Roman, and decides that Hank knows where Russ is hiding.

Told in first person, we get to see Hank grow as he has to get out of one bad situation from another. From seeing his friend Yvonne, who was killed by Ed and Paris, to the firefight at Paul's Bar, where all his friends are killed, Hank has to run and hide while trying to figure out where the money is and how to keep it. In a final anti-climatic scene Hank turns out to be stronger than he appears in the beginning.

This story is told over a five-day period, these being the final days of the baseball season where Hank's team the Giants and the Mets are playing for a play-off spot. Using baseball terminology, with bits of black humor, CAUGHT STEALING is fast-paced, suspenseful, and full of the twists a true noir novel has.

Reviewed by Steven Sill, November 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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