Caught Stealing is Charlie Huston’s debut novel. It is a very graphic thriller that doesn’t skimp on the violence. In truth, it may be one of the most violent books I’ve ever read. The nature of the “wrong-man” story that unfolds in this novel is chaotic and changes directions in such divergent ways it singles itself out as a mysterious thriller in every sense of the phrase.

Not to mince mediums, but fans of the Quentin Tarantino films would probably really enjoy this book, especially given the graphic nature of the violence, if that’s what draws you to his films. I don’t mention horror, because while there is quite a lot of shooting and bloodletting, it’s not unrealistic. In fact, it may also be one of the more realistic fictions of violence I have read ever.

Like a hotspot described by SNL’s Stefon, this book has it all; a car chase, regular chasing through the streets of New York City and its subways, shootouts, standoffs, close-combat fighting, bribery, cops, mafia, freelancers, the underworld, and plenty of money, drugs, and booze.

In classic “wrong-man” story fashion, our main character Henry “Call Me Hank” Thompson is a bartender who gets beat up because someone wants something from him, though he has no idea what or why. This was one of my favorite parts of the story Huston crafted because I really enjoyed being just as in the dark about what was going on as our main character Hank.

There is a wonderful subplot throughout about how money makes people make stupid decisions. By far my favorite part of this novel is that it appears to have been written by a true sports fan, an addict of sports and fandom.

And if I’m wrong, then Huston knows those sports addicts very well. I’m not talking about gambling, either. I’m talking about fandom, fans who bleed their team’s colors, as the saying goes. Because our main character Hank is such a fan, he’s still preoccupied with how his San Francisco Giants are doing despite being surrounded by either circumstances or choice by violent murder, theft, alcohol, drugs, and other such unseemly things.

The Giants are on his mind every time he picks up a newspaper or if he can hear radio reports or television updates on what is happening for his team near the end of the season. This is a race for the postseason and a possible pennant race. As all of the games and teams impacting our main characters’s fandom overlap and intercede, so too do all the thriller elements of moving pieces and characters. It’s a superb duet of two things that seem incongruous but really aren’t.

All in all, it’s a bit too violent for my tastes, but it’s still a pretty great read. If you aren’t squeamish, this one might be for you.

Read the Secret File of technical information and quotes from Caught Stealing by Charlie Huston.