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The Shotgun Rule: A Novel Paperback – 1 Jul 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books Inc.; Reprint edition (1 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345481364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345481368
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.4 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 540,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rachel VINE VOICE on 9 Jan. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a good book but it's not Huston's best. The story revolves around a gang of teens who, looking for thrills, like a little burglary, theft and weed alongside their comic books, music and BMX's. one fine summer all goes hideously wrong when a childish confrontation over a stolen bike escalates into GBH and stealing a huge amount of crank from the unfriendly neighbourhood drug runner.

What the boys don't know though is that the criminals they are trying to stay one step ahead of are nowhere near the top of the criminal food chain- and something much bigger and nastier is soon breathing down their necks.

The trademark idiosyncratic punctuation, crackling dialogue and casually described incredible violence we have come to expect from Huston are all here. Where this novel is different to Huston's others is it has multiple protagonists and in my opinion this makes it lose a small amount of focus and momentum. From anyone else this would be a problem but Huston is good enough that it will only make a few of his contemporaries shed a tear that they aren't this good, rather than throw themselves in the abyss; a sure-fire occurance if the read any of the Hank Thompson or Joe Pitt novels that show Huston cartwheeling where lesser writers walk.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By McDroll on 11 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
If you read nothing else this year, then you must read The Shotgun Rule. Huston captures the essence of a gang of boys and how quickly they fall deeper and deeper into trouble where violence spirals out of control.

The quality of Huston's writing is unsurpassed in recent years. He must surely become a huge star as he cannot be touched by the vast majority of contemporary writers. Beware...start to read his work and every other writer will fade into insignificance!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 48 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
One of the summer's most impressive books 28 Aug. 2007
By David Montgomery - Published on
Format: Hardcover
One of the strongest crime writers to emerge in recent years, Charlie Huston changes pace with this pitch-perfect story of four teenage boys and how they spent their summer vacation. They entertain themselves by smoking and swearing and dreaming about sex, but when they break into the house of the town's biggest meth cookers, their adventure turns into a nightmare. Huston has the characters down pat in "The Shotgun Rule," capturing their attitudes, ideas and speech like few writers could. Most thrillers aim to entertain by being larger-than-life. "The Shotgun Rule," however, is an intimate, realistic and contained story, and one of the summer's most impressive.
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Coming of Age in Hell 31 Aug. 2007
By Gary Griffiths - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Forget the clichés and superlatives: Charlie Huston is simply the single young writer today with the chops to pick up the slack after the iconoclastic Cormac McCarthy moves on. No rules, no convention, no following the pack with Huston. No political correctness between his pages. But if you haven't experienced the versatility of Huston yet through the Hank Thompson trilogy or the bizarre Joe Pitt duo of "vampyre" novels, you're missing a whole new definition of pop noir, fiction as cynical and insightful as it is bloody and brutal, prose that Huston sears on the page with blow torch intensity.

"The Shotgun Rule" is the story of four teenaged stoners in the parched suburbs of Oakland's eastern hills. George Whelan and his genius younger brother Andy, Hector, the blond-mohawked Mexican, and hair trigger-tempered Paul drink, steal, and dope their way through the summer of '83. Compared to these kids, Bevis and Butthead are Eagle Scouts. But the summer goes from ordinary mayhem to a Charles Manson-class nightmare when Andy's bike is stolen by the local Hispanic thug Arroyo brothers, leading to the discovery of a crack lab and a quick education in the Oakland drug hierarchy, complete with retribution out of their tender aged class.

A word of caution: this can be pretty tough reading. Huston is not one to mince words, nor graphic butchery, and never shies away from tearing down polite social convention. None of the characters are particularly likable, yet they are rendered with an unvarnished but credible fatalism on par with the venerable McCarthy. But this is by no means the equivalent of a Sam Peckinpah film gore fest in print, as the cagey Huston spins some clever twists and unlikely heroes in building from a quirky and sometimes nonlinear story line to a truly memorable climax. Like the ruthless "American History X", "Shotgun" rips a slice of culture from America's bowels, and finishes with a blaze that almost shows a wit of social redeeming value.

In a way, Huston's first five novels were just practice for "The Shotgun Rule", a tour de force of American life that will make you uncomfortable, yet still is mordantly irresistible. This is required reading - but don't pick it up unless you have several free hours ahead of you.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A Wild Read, A Wild Ride, circa 1983.... 28 Aug. 2007
By Laura Benedict - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Though the four unlikely boy-heroes of Huston's THE SHOTGUN RULE are into plenty of nasty stuff--drugs, thievery, language that would make a sailor blush, and duplicity of all kinds--it's hard not to like them. They are, after all, boys who love their parents, feel a desperate need to protect their bicycles and siblings alike, worry about their futures and sport an enviable, Hardy Boys-like bravery. But if the personalities of the boys are classic (and, really, boys will be boys), the crime and violence in THE SHOTGUN RULE are fiercely contemporary: meth labs, high-stakes street gangs, and moral dilemmas children should never have to face. Huston makes crime personal--even a neighborhood issue--and reveals how susceptible we all are to temptation, and how thin our veneers of respectability really are. A stunning accomplishment and a wild read that ends with a surprising note of hope for which the reader will be truly grateful!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Rick Shaq Goldstein - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Hold on tight for a literary ride that starts innocuously enough, with four teenage friends during the tale end of summer vacation in a 1983 working class neighborhood in Northern California. Brothers George and Andy, and best buddies Paul and Hector, while not saints by any stretch of the imagination, are certainly not gang bangers, nor are they on the FBI's most-wanted list. In fact these high school students don't even drive cars they ride bicycles. They do spend a good amount of time getting high drinking and smoking weed and dropping pills. The author describes in everyday guttural street language, the constant "busting of chops" interaction that is normal between close boys of their age. An old rivalry with the Arroyo Brothers from their soccer days, leads to younger brother Andy's bike being stolen, and the stage is set, for all that is to follow in this riveting, starkly violent, and savage, chain of events.

The boys response to the theft of Andy's bike, is to break into the Arroyo's house to get his bike back. It should be noted, that one of the Arroyo brothers has already spent hard time in jail, and the other two, have definitely, already passed the entrance requirements! While in the house, which it turns out is a "meth" lab among other things, the boys steal a kilo of "meth". That one maneuver, tips the first domino, that starts a chain reaction that doesn't stop until there are deaths, gruesome torture, injuries, and unwittingly, starts a chain of events that literally involves generations of families, that looked like respectable people,and leads all the way to the Hells Angels! You cannot put this book down till you're finished! The author has depicted this class of people explicitly .
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not for Those with Weak Stomaches 21 Feb. 2008
By Rick Mitchell - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Charlie Huston's trilogy, starting with "Six Bad Things" about the young man turned killer was terrific. It was a tad on the unbelieveable side - the regular guy turned killer, but was very well written and filled with exciting action.

In "Shotgun Rule" Huston matures. The characters are swept up in events in a totally believeable manner and almost totally beyond their control. They are not superhuman and do nothing above and beyond their abilities - or weaknesses.

The "stars" are four boys, three about 17 and the fourth the younger brother. They are bored during the summer vacation and like to get stoned. This means a need for cash, so they start burglarizing houses. When they stumble upon a meth lab, they are way over their heads.

The violence gets graphic, but it is appropriate for the characters that populate the book. The tension starts early with a mere stolen bike and then grows and grows in intensity. The reader is swept into the hopeless plight of the teens.

Mr. Huston blurs the lines of good and evil - how can you root for these punk kids - and there are no purely "good" characters; just gradations of bad. Huston's genius is that this does not put the reader off.

The book is extremely well-written, as well-written as book you will find in this genre. The author has the talent to keep a scene in one room of a house for a few hours stretch into a hundred pages of intensity that reads as if there were non-stop action.

This book is highly recommended. However, as noted, the violence is graphic and vividly portrayed. Although it is never gratuitous, the violent sceses are not for those with weak stomaches.
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