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Caught Stealing

(Hank Thompson #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  5,356 ratings  ·  480 reviews
It’s three thousand miles from the green fields of glory, where Henry “call me Hank” Thompson once played California baseball, to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where the tenements are old, the rents are high, and the drunks are dirty. But now Hank is here, working as a bartender and taking care of a cat named Bud who is surely going to get him killed.

It begins when
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Ballantine Books (first published 2004)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  5,356 ratings  ·  480 reviews

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Wil Wheaton
Mar 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of hardboiled noir.
Shelves: noir
On the back of this book, there's a blurb about how it's nearly impossible to put it down.

"Oh, really?" I thought, "We'll see about that."

After one day, the score is currently Blurb: 1, Wil: 0.

I'll write a full review when I'm finished with it, but based on about half of Caught Stealing, I can attest that that particular claim is not mere hyperbole.
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Tarantino fans

An explosive read that demands a soundtrack.

Here we go!

Henry--Hank, to his friends--is just chilling in New York City, working his bartender gig, working his way up at the bar, and slowly pickling his liver. Hank is a genuinely nice guy: he gets along with his neighbors, does the odd job for the super, calls his California parents regularly, lends money to his friends and even--and this is astonishing--doesn't ask for it back.

I've been caught stealing
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-thriller
The Hank Thompson trilogy is the finest I've ever read in the thriller/crime genre, with the exception of Michael Gruber's Jimmy Paz books. Charlie Huston's writing is violent, but razor sharp. Hank Thompson still remains one of my favorite characters of all time. CAUGHT STEALING is just a brilliant book. Highly recommended.
Chris Berko
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thanks to the awesome J.K. Grice for recommending this to me. I might not have ever heard of it otherwise. I read this in under twenty four hours if that tells you anything. There were times i felt really bad for the main character but then he started making a bunch of stupid decisions on his own and it was more like oh well, you reap what you sow because like one of the characters in the book says, four and a half million in cash makes you think differently. And I tip my hat to the author for ...more
Not a bad sentence, nor a wrong word. This is easily one of the best books I've read this year.

I suppose one of the central messages of this book is that no good deed goes unpunished. Other messages, in no particular order, are:

- Alcoholic bartenders on a downward spiral can also be good guys.

- Good guys in bad situations often must do bad things.

- Some people care deeply about big bags of cash.

- Being cruel to cats brings on some wicked bad karma.

- Cold beer is often desirable, even if you
Laura Belgrave
Feb 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Forget plot summary. Think recipe:

* party-boy bartender
* dirty cop
* Russian gangsters
* entrepreneurial gangsters
* mysterious key
* placid cat
* lots of money

Blend with Sharp Knife
* bullets
* booze
* lousy kidney
* fear
* dollop of conflicted conscience

Vigorously Mix
* violence
* non-stop action
* surprisingly realistic plot
* great characterization

Bake At High Temperature

Damned fine, rapid-paced, can't-put-down story that someone will probably crap up in the process of turning it into a
Mohammed Abdi Osman
Feb 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: noir, jim-thompson
There are few authors whose prose style i like as much Charlie Hustons and not because its lean style or fancy. His style remind me of noir writers like Richard Stark.

I likes this story of an average man getting caught in trouble and only reason i dont rate this novel higher is because the lead character Hank Thompson is not hardcore, noir enough for this story. I like his other series character Joe Pitt much more.
I read it for 50 pages. The style is a turn off, but the writing & the plot are pretty good. If I didn't have anything else to read, I'd continue, but I have a LOT of other stuff & I just find this style too irritating to continue.
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books, read-2011
4 stars

This is my first Charlie Huston book and I am already sold. This is a straight up noir type thriller that starts fast and ends even quicker. It a story about a young man that thanks to some bad luck and bad timing gets involved with things that will change him forever.

Hank is somewhat likable but easy to identify with as we all know people who seem to have everything going their way until fate reaches up and smacks them in their face and down into humble town. I thoroughly enjoyed the
CAUGHT STEALING (Amateur Sleuth) – G+
Charlie Huston – 1st book
Ballantine Books, 2004 – Hardcover
Bartender Hank Thompson agrees to look after his neighbor’s cat, Bud, for a few days and, as a result, is beaten so badly he loses a kidney. He is chased, beaten, tortured, and friends murdered by a pair of Russians, a red-headed Asian, two brothers, and a dirty cop all because of a key found in the bottom of Bud’s carrier.
*** Many of likened this book to a Tarantino movie and I can see why. The
May 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Charlie Huston has been described as "the poor man's Cormac McCarthy" and "Tarantino meets Hitchcock meets Bukowski."

All are true, this is a fucking cool book..

I'm a fan, and will continue reading Charlie Huston, though crime-noir isn't my favorite type of book. The whole time I read it, I could visualize it unfolding as a movie. The dialogue is sharp and coarse, villans devious, and story timeless. Great New York book as a bonus
Jun 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, reread, read_2012
Hank Thompson is haunted by his failed attempts at being somebody. From horrific accident, to horrific accident, he's lost pieces of himself (figuratively and literally) as well as friends. His dreams are constant reminders of why his lives life out of a bottom of a whisky glass. That is, until reality catches up with him and the glass smashes into his face. A bar brawl leaves him a kidney light, remedying his unhealthy outlet and unearthing a whole new world of pain. With a busted leg, bleeding ...more
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
This had all the elements of a book I would love; a thriller set in NYC, baseball, and even a cat. And while I did like the story, and some of the phrases were well turned, I didn't actually love it.

My biggest problem was sheer physical implausibility (and I'm terrific at suspension of disbelief; if you lose me, you're screwing up). Right off the bat (so to speak), our hero has taken a beating, and wakes up in the hospital to learn that he's actually lost a kidney (and the remaining one is
Jon Spoelstra
Dec 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I bought this when it first came out, but quickly put it aside. It was difficult for me to adjust to the punctuation. You know, dashes instead of punctuation marks. Then 'Six Bad Things' was offered as a free download on Kindle. Cheap is good, but free is better.

Download it I did. I got past the dashes and thoroughly enjoyed the book. I then looked around for Caught Stealing. I had already tossed it. So, I paid for it again, this time on Kindle, and enjoyed it.

Lastly, I bought "A Dangerous Man'
James Thane
Mar 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Hank Thompson is a great protagonist, like a character from a Hitchcock film who's minding his own business when he becomes the victim of circumstances that spin totally out of control and change his life forever. A plot that races along and demands that you race along with it.
Aug 08, 2012 added it
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Ghostsoup1313 by: Found the name mentioned in another book.
I found this book to be boring, repetitive and clichéd. Neither the plot nor characters were original.

First, the premise is overused. The protagonist, a bartender, is beaten one night for unknown reasons by two guys who are obviously Russian Mob. Despite the fact that we later learn they do know who he is and do want something from him they never initially ask him any questions. Why?

The first half of the book is the bartender being beaten. 100 pages of the main character being beaten, trying to
Apr 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
This is a book written by an author who set out to write something "edgy" and "hip", vowing to take noir fiction to the "next level". Not even close. The book is a nihilistic hodgepodge of drug taking, drunkenness and gratuitous violence. "A tale told by an idiot signifying nothing" is an apt description. One by one the author beats and/or kills just about every character in the book. Wow, great accomplishment, that's so rad, man.

I don't really have a problem with the violence in the book. I
Jun 22, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed, thriller
Although I did enjoy the witty and somewhat comical thought processes of Huston's Hank Thompson in the beginning, the language and violence were too over-the-top as the book progressed. Having the main character constantly getting the hell beat out of him and having his closest friends killed around him did not make for the thrilling plot I was seeking when I ordered the book. Hank Thompson went from likable, to pitiful, to pathetic ... In the end Hank turned into a mastermind avenger that ...more
May 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Charlie Huston is one of the best pulp fiction writers alive. There is no more accurate way to describe him. He has taken the mantle of Mickey Spillane and customized it to the gritty post-modern streets of New York. The Hank Thompson series takes a unlikely hero, puts him in the innocent victim in the wrong place and wrong time scenario and revs it up to rpms in the light years. Hank and his cat Bud (who has to be the mellowest cat in existence)are instantly likable and I suspect I will be ...more
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hank-thompson
HOLY $HIT - how many bad things can happen to a good a week?
Hank Thompson found out the hard way, and it all started with helping a neighbor across the hall. Huston's debut novel, is petal to the metal pulp, brutal and violent... with a protagonist you will root for.
Apr 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: hardboiled/noir fans
Dark, relentless and fast moving. I definitely recommend it.
William Fuller
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
About a fifth of the way thru this thing, I had three stars waiting for it to end. I just finished it, and you can see my change of heart in the rating. If you like cozies, warm narratives, and loveable heroes, you should stay as far away as you can. If you like baseball, noir, the most twisted parts of Hitchcock, plenty of violence, and, lord have mercy, cats (!), this is for you.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Features one of the most realistic lead characters in the thriller genre. "Hank" Thompson is trapped in a situation he is ill-suited to deal with unlike most thriller protagonists where all of them seem to have combat training and equally skilled associates to call to for assistance.
After listening to this audiobook, I'm further committed to refusing to care for anyone's cat.
Lukasz Pruski
Mar 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
They say that the second book in a series is usually not as good as the first one. Well, this does not hold for Charlie Huston’s series about Hank Thompson. I happened to have read Mr. Huston’s “Six Bad Things” before “Caught Stealing” and I find the second novel significantly better. Don’t get me wrong, “Caught Stealing” is still a very good book; it is just not as outstanding as the second book in the series.

We learn the details of how Hank Thompson became a fugitive pursued by various
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-fiction
#1 Hank Thompson series - Noir Crime Thriller

First Read: 2009, 5 stars

Second Read: Feb. 2016, 5 stars

Excellent, gritty noir-style thriller. LOTS of graphic violence, more than I am comfortable reading, but fits in with the dangerous characters and intensity of the story.

Caught Stealing proves the cliché to be true: No good deed goes unpunished. Hank's a good guy, tending bar in New York City, fighting his inner demons with alcohol. Hank is quick to give his friends a helping hand - loaning
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
yep - FIVE stars, people! (but i'm not that finicky, so maybe that won't mean much to some of you half star people...)

i adored this book - and everything about it. this is not a book for the faint of heart - but those people probably wouldn't be buying any charles huston, anyway. there is sudden and overwhelming violence, w/just enough descriptors to be upsetting. upsetting, but riveting. all the more so, when we realize hank is capable of it, as well.

when we meet hank, he's a hard drinking
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I heart Charlie Huston. Seriously. In a big BIG way.
I picked this book up a while back, having never heard of him. It took me a second to get used to his style of writing, but once I did, I was hooked. Caught Stealing is about a guy who does something stupid in high school and screws up his life. Afterward, he moves across the country and starts over. He's just trying to live his life in peace. He doesn't bother anybody, minds his own business. He gets roped into helping out a friend, and gets a
Rob Kitchin
May 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Caught Stealing starts at a canter and is soon at a flat out gallop. Huston’s writing is terse, edgy and captivating. I was hooked from the first page to the last. The basic premise is that of the wrong man in the wrong place. Thompson is a resourceful enough character to survive, but only just, meaning that the plot unfolds through a series of chases and violent, visceral near-misses, double and triple crosses, and edge of the seat scenes. And as the story unfolds Thompson slowly transforms ...more
Feb 21, 2012 rated it liked it
I had read Six Bad Things before I read Caught Stealing, which is too bad. This is the first part of a trilogy, and I wish I had read it in order. But, nonetheless, it was a good read. Charlie Huston imbues Henry Thompson with humanity in spite of the brutality he is faced with in escalating amounts throughout this book. Henry's first person narrative and general likeability draws us to him and makes us root for him as his world becomes a violent, crazy mess. He's an innocent at the beginning of ...more
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, crime
Be warned: this is an extremely violent book. Possibly the most gratuitously violent book I've read in recent memory. It seemed like on nearly every page, someone was getting beaten to a bloody pulp, shot, tortured, beaten, and shot. There's a lot of blood and a lot of violence. I couldn't read the scene that involves cruelty to the cat, because it made me physically ill.

This is the first book in a trilogy that I happened to read out of order. I recently finished the second book, "Six Bad
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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.

Other books in the series

Hank Thompson (3 books)
  • Six Bad Things (Hank Thompson #2)
  • A Dangerous Man (Hank Thompson, #3)
“Everything hurts. People are talking in the halls, but no one seems to be evacuating the building. This is the nature of New York City: alarms go off so often that no one wants to respond to them until things start burning down or blowing up in front of their eyes.” 0 likes
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