Chris Nashawaty
April 30, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Caught Stealing

Current Status
In Season
Charlie Huston
Fiction, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it an A

The hero of Caught Stealing, Hank Thompson, is having a bad week — a bad life, actually. Once a hotshot high school baseball prospect, the unlucky bastard is now a going-nowhere New York City bartender precariously teetering on the wagon of sobriety. His feet ache, he’s down to one kidney thanks to his boozing, and as this fantastically hopped-up thriller kicks off, he’s also getting the stuffing pounded out of him by a pair of Russian mobsters in color-coordinated Nike tracksuits.

It turns out that the cat Hank’s neighbor left in his care is sitting on a secret. Literally. Hidden at the bottom of its cage is a key wanted not only by those fashionable Russian goons but also by a sadistic cop, a Samoan hitman, and a pair of psycho brothers who dress in leather cowboy gear. In his debut novel, Charlie Huston has come up with a wrong-man plot worthy of Hitchcock.

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