"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Dangerous Man

TITLE: A Dangerous Man
AUTHOR: Charlie Huston

Third in the Henry Thompson trilogy (the others are Caught Stealing and Six Bad Things). Huston calls the series that in his acknowledgments at the end of the book, so I guess it's true. I'll miss having more of Henry's misadventures to read about. I've been reading a few noir-ish books lately, including Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' comic Criminal (collected into graphic novels -- the second is due out imminently) and these sort of books mean protagonists who aren't likely to be upstanding citizens.

Henry Thompson was a decent guy. In the first book, Henry learns firsthand that no good deed goes unpunished. Babysitting a cat and not knowing about the key hidden in the cat carrier that led to millions of stolen dollars bought Henry more trouble than he could handle, yet he kept trying to get out on his own, understandable given the corrupt cop on his tail.

In book 2, Henry is hiding out in Mexico with his new fortune, but was back on the run when he's spotted. In the 3rd book, he's working as a hitman for a Russian mobster, and not liking it much, but it's the only way to keep the mobster from killing his parents. As in the earlier books, the bodies pile up, if not at the same alarming rate and while it's hard to think of Henry as redeemable, Huston makes sure we understand Henry and the choices he's made, as well as the reasons. Despite it all, Henry remains resourceful, well-meaning, and even likable. He might be hardened to some of what he's had to do, but he's not hard. He's still Henry Thompson inside, not the Henry Thompson wanted in two countries, not the Henry Thompson who's the stuff of legend, but Henry Thompson, former failed ballplayer and former bartender who lost almost everyone who ever meant anything to him while he struggles to keep the remaining ones alive and get out from his untenable situation. Henry, pardon the expression, is completely fucked up.

Huston made me care about Henry, so I'll forgive the lack of quotation marks and even the lack of attribution on every single line of dialogue that made reading these books feel like I was putting together a jigsaw puzzle. If you don't mind reading books where things aren't tied up in nice pretty bows, this might be the series for you.

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I'll have a new Booked by 3 up this week, provided I think up some questions. :)