Friday, November 28, 2014

The Shotgun Rule

Charlie Huston
Ballantine Books
Reviewed by Nancy
4 out of 5 stars


The first stand-alone thriller by critically acclaimed author Charlie Huston, The Shotgun Rule is a raw tale of four teenage friends who go looking for a little trouble–and find it.

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.

The spreading stain is drawing local drug lords, crooked cops, hard-riding bikers, and the brutal history of the boys’ fathers in its wake.

My Review

Four suburban teenagers manage to find big trouble when they come across a meth lab while trying to retrieve Andy’s stolen bike. I’ve wanted to read Charlie Huston for a while and thought this stand-alone thriller would be a good place to start. I wasn’t disappointed. This was a brutal, dark and compelling slice of suburban life. The characters were very well-developed, the dialogue sharp, and the pace relentless. The story was raw, painful and a believable portrayal of troubled youths, dysfunctional families, and drug use. This was a story about kids who made mistakes and had bad things happen to them; it was about parents who wanted to make a better life and found they couldn’t escape their past. Intense, disturbing, and not for everyone.

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