If you’ve been reading my blog you know how much I love Charlie Huston’s books. So much, in fact, that I’ve read almost all of them. (Just one more to go!) Since it’s been a while (a whole year!) that I’ve had the pleasure of cracking open one of his novels, I decided to tick one more off my list. This is what brought me to The Shotgun Rule.
Unlike most of his other novels, The Shotgun Rule began too slow. Now, this actually could be due to the fact that I thought it was the only other book of Huston’s I have yet to read, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death. For the first 50 pages, I kept waiting for a crime to be committed so the clean up crew could arrive. Once I realized my mistake, the book did actually take off, and turned out to be really interesting. The synopsis according to Goodreads:
Blood spilled on the asphalt of this town long years gone has left a stain, and it’s spreading.
Not that a thing like that matters to teenagers like George, Hector, Paul, and Andy. It’s summer 1983 in a northern California suburb, and these working-class kids have been killing time the usual ways: ducking their parents, tinkering with their bikes, and racing around town getting high and boosting their neighbors’ meds. Just another typical summer break in the burbs. Till Andy’s bike is stolen by the town’s legendary petty hoods, the Arroyo brothers. When the boys break into the Arroyos’ place in search of the bike, they stumble across the brothers’ private industry: a crank lab. Being the kind of kids who rarely know better, they do what comes naturally: they take a stash of crank to sell for quick cash. But doing so they unleash hidden rivalries and crimes, and the dark and secret past of their town and their families.
Like all of Huston’s novels, this one shows a life most of us will never live – a life of crime. All of the characters in the novel were fleshed out, and the villains weren’t one-dimensional. I do feel, however, the characters in this book aren’t as well as developed as in Huston’s other books. Maybe because this one is a stand-alone novel, and the others (with minor exception) are part of a series which allowed Huston more room for character development. I enjoyed reading this book, but I’ll admit it’s not the first one of his novels I’d recommend. For that I’d have to go with Huston’s Hank Thompson trilogy.