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The Shotgun Rule

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,203 ratings  ·  158 reviews
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 summ
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published August 28th 2007 by Ballantine Books (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,203 ratings  ·  158 reviews

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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

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
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
While I love Charlie Huston as an author, I thought THE SHOTGUN RULE was not a particularly great offering. As always with Huston, we expect the violence, but I didn't feel the characters were that likable. The kid's personalities, drug use, and indifference to stealing just rang hollow with me. There didn't seem to be a lot to care about in this novel.
Jun 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was Charlie Huston's first standalone novel after his Joe Pitt and Hank Thompson series. While it is just as visceral and violent as his other novels, it is also quite different. For The author has moved his action to the suburban setting of Northern California and focuses his attention on four teenagers growing up with many of the temptations our society gives them. This suburban setting may feel uncomfortable even to the most ardent Crime Noir fan for this is violence set on children even ...more
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
About a fourth of the way through, I just about put this down, and took a break from it. I was getting little tired and fed up with these teenage friends that all they did was, smoke, drink and the ever present f-bombs. What the hell were their parents doing, to keep them from crusing around the neighborhood on their bikes? Then ya find out about their parents, past and present issues.....and welcome to 'burbs of northern CA, in the early 80's. After what these kids got themselves into, it is, a ...more
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Shotgun Rule" was the last of Charlie Huston's novels that I had yet to read (other than "A Dangerous Man," which, based on my feelings about "Six Bad Things," I may just skip), and I was a bit nervous about it, since it's about a bunch of teenaged boys, and I wasn't sure I could handle reading about kids suffering the sorts of atrocities that he regularly puts his adult protagonists through. In the end, though, I couldn't resist, and I'm glad I couldn't, as this book is another home run in ...more
William Thomas
Aug 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Want to know what it's like growing up lower-middle class, get into fights with the neighborhood kids, screw around with all of your outsider friends and talk about nothing but drugs and music and not think about the future for one single second? Read this and find out. I could not believe how close this book came on every level to a very dark period in my own high-school experience, not only the insight and feelings of the teens, but literally, the violence, the drugs, the seedy adults and deal ...more
Ian Mathers
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
Maybe it's because this one stars deliquent teenagers instead of a burned out ex-baseball player or, you know, a fucking vampire detective, but the violence in The Shotgun Rule seemed even more brutal than normal for Huston. There was one particular bit with a hacksaw that actually made me take a five second break to compose myself.

But the reason I dove right back in wasn't because Huston does literary violence well, although he does; it's because as always his characterization and dialogue and
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was ok
I don't usually read the endorsement quotes from famous writers that appear on books, but this one caught my eye. It was a blurb from Stephen King about how "unputdownable" this book was. And, I was looking for something in the thriller genre, not necessarily scary, but fast-paced and a little mindless, so I thought this might work. The Shotgun Rule is about four high school friends who pass their days riding their bikes around town, getting high, and figuring out not-so-legal ways to make a few ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: young toughs who need to chill the fuck out
Shelves: 2012
Boy does Charlie Huston do the build up of dread well. Grabbed this book at a used book store on my way to vaca, doing the, sticking with an author you know rule, and it did not disappoint.

We've got fucked up kids getting in over their head and boy do they ever. They are boys who are a little lost because of various family circumstances, even if they have no right to be cause the parents care. They get high, they boost shit, they want to be tougher than they really are. Than things turn for real
Charlie George
Feb 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, pulp
Not quite as consistently bracing and blistering as I was hoping for, but still very hard-edged and good. The story lurches suddenly when some mildly hooligan kids being delinquent are mixed up in major-league criminal villainy. The best part is the realism--of characters, dialogue, setting, and behavior alike. It takes a long time to set up that level of believability, so of course it can't be action-packed.

Never been a better book to play 'guess who all is gonna die'. I'm usually bad at this g
Larry H
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Charlie Huston is a great writer. He's written two different series before this book and I'd recommend both--one is about a guy caught in the wrong situation who kills to get out of it, and the other is about a vampire struggling to make it in the vampire-ridden world of NYC. That being said, this stand-alone book was terrific. Four kids break into the neighborhood thugs' house to steal back one of their bikes and find stuff they shouldn't. What happens from that point on may be a little predict ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a book! Imagine a mix of Stranger Things (kids on bikes), Stand By Me (four boys getting up to no good) and then throw in a whole lot of profanity and graphic violence and drugs and you have this book. I normally dislike excessive swearing/violence in books, because I think a lot of authors just throw that stuff in for shock value. In The Shotgun Rule every swear word, every bit of violence is pitch perfect, true to the characters and the plot. And then there are these moments of tenderness ...more
Jan 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Charlie Huston writes everyday chaos likes it's happening right in front of him and he's reporting what he's seeing. Authentic dialog, humor, complex characters are all part of his slim, violent volumes. With The Shotgun Rule he doesn't disappoint. Four teenage boys teetering between delinquency and a life of hard crime bite off more than they can chew when they discover a meth lab run by three Hispanic brothers who have accepted their roles on the hard side. When the boys steal a bag of the met ...more
Garrett Leun
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It's Stand By Me meets Deliverance.

Charlie Huston was a knockout punch from the moment I first read him. He breaks some serious dialogue rules in the best way - it's real, it's fast, and it's off the cuff. His characters are thick and tangible in an I-almost-know-that-guy kind of way. This was the first standalone novel of his that I read (having raced through the Joe Pitt series and Caught Stealing trilogy) and he laid as much asphalt on the road in this one book as he did in maybe all those bo
Aug 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-books
It seems like Charlie Huston isn't writing crime novels anymore, so I've been saving this, the only one of his crime novels I haven't read. This one features not only the violence, tough talk, and plans going horribly wrong that you'd expect, but also a more authentic depiction of the friendships of teenage boys than I've seen in most YA.

Having said that, I didn't love it as much as I did Huston's other crime novels, but I can't put my finger on why. Maybe because there's something about kids i
Jun 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread, own, read_2011
It started with a stolen hand-me-down bike and ended in scars, crippling, and death. ‘The Shotgun Rule’ is about four teenage boys pitted against small time drug dealers with big time hard-on’s for violence and a warped sense of retribution. Very well written and highly atmospheric, ‘The Shotgun Rule’ is the complete package. I liked how each of the four main characters were given equal page time and a unique background. The showdown at the end will forever haunt me – probably the best scene I’v ...more
Mar 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Stand By Me meets Boyz in the Hood.
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ace! Talk about the consequences of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and of how karma has a way of biting you in the ass at its own sweet time.
Collin Henderson
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Imagine stand by me meets Don winslows excellent Savages and you get an idea of what this book is.

Hector Paul George and the young Andy are enjoying their summer scoring beer and toking up when Andy, George's brother, has his bike stolen by the Arroyo boys, the neighborhoods resident tough guys with a penchant for violence. When they break in to the house to get the bike back, they find out the brothers are running a crank operation. And they decide they want in.

Essentially a bunch of amoral cha
John Grazide
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
First book of the year! Woot!

Also the first for me by this author, and it was pretty good. A story about a group of four friends who are all in their teens and wanting more out of life. So they get high and steal stuff. When one of the kids bike get's stolen the story starts moving. They get mixed up with the thieves and bad stuff happens. A lot of which they aren't aware of. Along the way a little back story of each of the characters is revealed. Just enough to make it interesting. Being a kid
Jeff Mauch
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A gritty story about some somewhat delinquent teenagers involving drugs, violence, and their parents pasts in 80's lower income suburbia. I can relate a lot to parts of this story. I remember a bike being my main mode of transportation and how there's nothing quite like the friendships made with the kids in the neighborhood where you grew up. Granted, this is much more violent and dangerous and I can't say meth was really something I had to contend with in my younger years. I really enjoyed Hust ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of Charlie Huston and his writing style, so there is a built-in bias for this book.

When a boy's bicycle is stolen, he and his friends set out to get it back. But the bike was taken by three brothers who have a bike chop shop and are also selling and making crack.

When the boys take the bike back, they also take some things from the brothers' house -- including drugs -- and turn the brothers in to the police.

That pits them against the brothers and their bosses in a grim Oakland world
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
imagine a Huck Finn-styled coming-of-age novel as re-imagined by Quentin Taratino. At just under 300 pages, this is a lean and mean novel about young adults, but written for those with a penchant for violent, suburban noir white-knuckle (or in this case, raw knuckles) fare. Huston's prose is sparse, but the set-up and pacing are top-notch, with a few twists and even the ultimately predictable moments staying buried until the last possible moment, whereupon they wallop you in the face like a conc ...more
Jeff Frane
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Should you stumble across this book at the library or used bookstore, do yourself a favor. Take the day off. Have a nice breakfast, find a comfy couch and assume you're not going anywhere or doing anything until the book is done. If you need cigarettes, coffee, beer or a bong, get all that set up in advance (or bring in a keeper to run errands). "Unputdownable" isn't a word, really, but it's the most appropriate cliché under the circumstances.

Oh, yeah, it's violent and tense and there's a lot of
Jun 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, read-in-2019
I only read (listened) to this book b/c my Mom had to for class and I was curious.

I didn't too much care for Part 1. These kids were assholes and a bit on the crazy side. A lot of homophobia and racism which I felt was done more for shock than anything else.

Part 2 had me thinking "well damn" a lot. Deception, blood, craziness. A majority of the adults in this story were terrible.

At the end I started to care for these kids even though they were reckless assholes.
Paul Thomas
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I’ve read several books by Hurston. The Hank Thompson trilogy (Caught Stealing, Six Bad Things, A Dangerous Man) was a really good crime series, and two stand alone novels Sleepless and The Mystic Art of Erasing Death were very good and unique.

This one not so much. Dialogue was odd. Kindof like a play: a lot of third person and short choppy settings. Didn’t flow very well. Disjointed, and the story just wasn’t that good. I like his “regular” crime novels better.
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it

Another very solid effort from Charlie Huston, an incredibly imaginative writer across at least two or three distinct genres (crime, fantasy/horror, and literary fiction).

His most notable and admirable strength is an ear for dialogue that just rings true to real life.

I wish he would write more.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is a little twisted just like Charlie's other books and I loved it. Caught the time right and drew me into another world, everything I love about a good book and a good story teller, not for the faint of heart :)
John Brady
Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Teen aged boys so dumb.
Jun 25, 2019 added it
couldn't find no quotes in this book or a theme or symbol, can anyone assist me please
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Charlie Huston is an American author of Noircrime fiction. However, according to a recent interview with Paradigm, he prefers to be classified as a writer of Pulp, due to how he writes.

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