A Dangerous Man by Charlie Huston
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Charlie Huston’s “A Dangerous Man” is the third and last book in the Hank Thompson trilogy. Unfortunately, it is not as good as the first two books (very good “Caught Stealing” and almost outstanding “Six Bad Things”). I hope it is not presumptuous of me to provide the explanation. We do not take the plot of the first two books realistically. I mean, they are written as if they were realistic, but we know they tell a story that could not *really* happen in *real* life. Sort of like “magical realism”, with essential implausibility substituting for magic. It is as if the plot is happening in a parallel universe where it is completely normal for a basically good person, Hank T., to become an efficient multiple murderer.
Alas, “A Dangerous Man” is written in a realistic convention, without the magical, whimsical air of implausibility. The murders are real, the victims’ suffering is real, and Hank’s pain is real. For the most part, this book does not work, unless one likes to read painfully realistic descriptions of beatings and killings. The ending is touching, though, and beautifully written.
There is some other good stuff. Mr. Huston still writes great dialogue. I also like the self-referential fragment of the book where Mr. Huston writes about Hank Thompson thinking about an author, Robert Cramer, who has written a trilogy about Hank Thompson. This is pretty cool.
The first two books in the Hank Thompson trilogy provide a hilarious yet thoughtful parable on human condition. If not for the redeeming ending, this novel would just qualify as porn of pain and violence.
Two and three quarter stars.
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