Reading this novel was a no-brainer, since I’ve been so impressed with nearly everything else Charlie Huston has written. This was the first book he wrote not as part of a series, so I figured this would be as gripping and compelling and gritty as the other books. And, well, I was a little disappointed.
I can’t quite finger why. The prose is about the same. The dialogue is sharp. The story is about as noir as modern literature can get, and it maintains the same level of brutality of his previous books, so I wasn’t shocked or put off by it all. It just lacked a lot of what the other books had. I think it had to do with the main characters and their methods for eliciting sympathy. In the other books, the main characters were hard-asses, but they at least did what they did for the right reasons. In The Shotgun Rule, I couldn’t quite feel as much for the characters.
Is it because the main characters are kids? I don’t think so. I’ve read other books with despicable characters being young, and it hasn’t fazed me. Is it because of the violence? Again, I doubt it. I’ve read other violent books, and even though they turn my stomach sometimes, if the character is doing what needs to be done, for the right reasons, then it holds true for me. I just couldn’t believe that these kids were doing anything more than being troublesome, for the sake of being troublesome. One of the characters was defending his brother, so that was an honorable motivation, but overall, for all that they do during the story, the motivation was weak. I mean, one character could have avoided all the trouble he encountered if he hadn’t stolen a bag of meth. So, yeah. Not too sympathetic.
I was hoping this would be a good recommendation for someone new to Huston, but I would recommend the Dirk Pitt series before this book. If you like the author’s style, though, and want something to calm your fix, then you probably won’t go wrong with reading this one, too. Just don’t expect something as novel and exciting as the Hank Thompson or Dirk Pitt series.