This book, the third in the Hank Thompson trilogy, brings the entire, brutal story to rest. What started out as a error in judgment (agreeing to catsit a neighbor’s pet) led to a string of murders, a life on the lam, and an eventual job with the Russian mafia. Now, in the final volume, Charlie Huston brings Hank full circle, and tries to make him a sympathetic character all over again.
It isn’t an easy thing to do. What drove Hank in the previous two books was a desperation to survive, and a desire to protect his parents. Now, all that’s left for him is to protect his parents. He’s a hit man, the muscle, the guy that you don’t want to show up at your door to collect on a debt. Think Jules and Vincent from Pulp Fiction and you might have an idea of what he’s like. But only a little.
See, Hank’s been having a hard time dealing with his new life, and he’s developed a dependency to painkillers. He’s becoming more and more lackadaisical in his approach to his assignments, and now he’s having to prove himself with one last job. If he’s successful, then he can rest knowing that his parents will be safe. If he messes up … well, he’s working for the Russian mafia. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the outcome would be bad.
Charlie Huston writes some gritty, disturbing fiction. It’s about as coarse as it gets, and makes standard noir fiction look like Mary Poppins. This is some dark, heavy, serious fiction, and it’s not for the queasy. A Dangerous Man isn’t quite as brutal as the book’s predecessors (Caught Stealing and Six Bad Things), but it follows in the same vein, and depicts some very graphic scenes. Huston doesn’t flinch when he portrays the world of a mafia hit man, even if he is as low and depressed as Hank Thompson.
The story is compelling and interesting, even if it is dark. Huston has a knack for dialogue and pacing, and doesn’t hold back when he’s writing the action scenes. The story never seems forced, and even when Hank isn’t the most sympathetic of characters, Huston still manages to make him likeable. Sort of. It’s a fine balance, and I think he does it well.
If you like your crime fiction hard, dark, and nasty, then it wouldn’t hurt you to check out the Hank Thompson trilogy. Just don’t start here, or else it will spoil the set up for the other two books. This book ends the story with the most logical conclusion, but you’ll probably still be surprised with how the author pulls it all together.