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Monday, August 27, 2007

"The Shotgun Rule" by Charlie Huston

Official Charlie Huston Website
Order “The Shotgun RuleHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

Up until now, my main exposure to Charlie Huston had been through the excellent 2006 relaunch for the Marvel comic book character Moon Knight drawn by David Finch (Ultimate X-Men, The New Avengers). The greatest accolades however, have been reserved for the author’s novel fiction including the Henry Thompson trilogy (Caught Stealing, Six Bad Things, A Dangerous Man) and the Joe Pitt vampire series (Already Dead, No Dominion), which have established the writer as a modern day master of the hard-boiled crime noir. Having heard so many wonderful comments about Charlie Huston’s books, I couldn’t wait to delve into the author’s latest novel “The Shotgun Rule”, a standalone thriller which ended up being even better than advertised.

Somewhat reminiscent of Stand By Me or American Graffiti, “The Shotgun Rule” is part coming-of-age tale following the escapades of four teenage friends who are enjoying the summer before their senior year of high school. While George, Paul, Hector and George’s younger brother Andy are hardly your ideal role models—booze & drugs are as much a part of their daily diet as fruits & vegetables, swear words make up the majority of their vocabulary, and picking a fight is as second nature as riding a bike—they’re saints compared to the dreaded Arroyo brothers. Where the book starts venturing into noir-esque Quentin Tarantino territory, is when the four boys decide to take a little revenge against the Arroyos, triggering a series of unfortunate coincidences which gets the friends into shit that is way over their heads. Whether or not the friends can find a way out of the mess depends on one of their fathers whose past has come back to haunt him, reminding me a bit of David Cronenberg’sA History of Violence”. What follows is a viscerally arresting tale of friendship, family, and redemption…

Reading the Moon Knight comic book series, you definitely get a glimpse of Charlie Huston’s talent and writing style, but trust me, it’s nothing compared to reading one of his actual books. The first thing that caught my attention was the in-your-face, no-holds-barred dialogue which would make Mr. Tarantino proud. Next, the characters are haunting and compelling with Andy, a young prodigy who daydreams about killing people all the time and is good at hiding in plain sight, and Geezer, an overweight drug dealer who likes using big words but can never remember them on his own, are two of my favorites. Then there’s the musical references—Suicidal Tendencies, Metallica, Ozzy, et cetera—and other pop culture elements that faithfully capture “The Shotgun Rule’s” early 80s, California-suburban setting. Finally, Mr. Huston really knows how to tell a story, and “The Shotgun Rule” kept me glued to all 256 of its pages right up until the book’s intensely satisfying conclusion.

In summary, “The Shotgun Rule” will no doubt end up being one of my favorite releases of 2007, ranking right up there with Warren Ellis’Crooked Little Vein” for its boldness & entertainment value. Like “Crooked Little Vein” however, “The Shotgun Rule” isn’t for everyone and readers who can’t stomach graphic violence and language may want to avoid the book. For those who can, “The Shotgun Rule” comes highly recommended and if Charlie Huston isn’t on your ‘must-read’ list yet, then he needs to be…

7 comments:

Katie said...

OT: I saw you were reading 'Heart Sick' and am dying to hear what you think about it. Haven't read it yet but I'm dying to. The author is really nice by the way. Check her out on myspace.

Robert said...

Well I haven't actually started "HeartSick" yet. I'm finishing up "The Innocent Mage" and then it's on to"HeartSick" and I hope to have a review up by next week. The early buzz has been pretty strong for the book and I can't wait to read it...

Thanks for the Myspace tips. Just added her ;)

Lawrence said...

Funny stuff, the first time I took a look at Charlie Huston's book (it was Already Dead; one of his Joe Pitt novels) I actually compared him to Tarentino too! I guess the similarities are just overly clear. But thanks for the great review, can't wait to finally start in his Henry Thompson series.

Robert said...

Lawrence, I guess great minds think alike! Personally, I love vampire stories so I think I'll be checking out the Joe Pitt novels next :) Anyways, glad you liked the review and I hope you pick up "The Shotgun Rule"!

Gav's Studio said...

I loved Already Dead and you can read review here

I might have to check out his other stuff too!

Robert said...

Gav, I appreciate the "Already Dead" review :) I can't wait to read this series!

Gav's Studio said...

looking forward to seeing what you think :D

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