Hank Thompson is living off the map in Mexico with a bagful of cash that the Russian mafia wants back and many, many secrets. So when a Russian backpacker shows up in town asking questions, Hank tries to play it cool. But he knows the jig is up when the backpacker mentions the money . . . and the family Hank left behind. Suddenly Hank’s in a desperate race to get to his parents in California before anyone can harm them. Along the way he’ll face Federales and Border Patrol, mafiosi and vigilantes, extortionists and drug dealers, and a couple of psychotic surf bums with an ax to grind. From the golden beaches of the Yucatán to the seedy strip clubs of Vegas, Charlie Huston opens a door to the squalid underworld of crime and corruption–and invites the reader to live it in the extreme.
More than fulfilling the promise of Huston's 2004 debut, Caught Stealing, this remarkably assured hard-boiled caper has rapid-fire pacing, dead-on dialogue and a beleaguered protagonist who just can't get a break. Former minor league baseball player Hank Thompson barely escaped with his life at the end of Caught, making off with $4 million of the Russian mafia's money. Several years later, he's running a breakfast place in the Yucatan, down the shore from his secluded hut. When a Russian bounty hunter shows up asking questions, Hank Fed-Exes his bankroll to a friend in Las Vegas and sneaks north across the border. When not trying to kill him, two surf bum criminals convince him they're allies; as the book reaches its climax, Hank finds himself dodging a memorable cast of lowlifes, would-be mobsters and scammers. Huston takes care with Hank, making him funny and sympathetic (even as he reminds us that he has killed six people in New York), and giving even cardboard situations and slight exchanges charge. (One of the surfers on a pair of boots: "Kind of metallish for my taste, but fuck it, we're incognito, right?") This second installment of a planned trilogy will leave readers anxious for more.