Charlie Huston is a master of the medium.
In his Hank Thompson trilogy, Huston strips the flesh fromf mayhem-fiction as an ex-baseball player and ex-barfly becomes a force of nature as he rips across the US leaving blood stained streets and a salted earth in his wake.
In the Mystic Art of Erasing All Signs of Death, Huston pens my 3rd favorite novel (following Of Mice and Men and Snowcrash). In this novel, Huston switches from a thrill-ride of bloody carnage to professional slacker Webster Fillmore who mops up human remains for Clean Team crime scene cleaners while avoiding his own emotional wounds.
The Joe Pitt series is about a vampire detective whose self- destructive streak is made mute by his immortality. It’s an innovative series and the best well-written alternative to the ebbing tide of vampire lore.
In Shotgun Rule, Huston creates a compelling look into the dysfunction and horror of suburban life in the 1980’s. I’d be a flat out liar if I didn’t admit to tearing up a few times during this novel about several friends who steal a bag of crank and end up unleashing Hell upon their friends and family.
Charlie Huston has shown, over the course his novels that he is in no way a one trick pony. His control over plot twists, emotional gut punches, and character development, is far and away better than most of the novels kicking it on the book shelves of contemporary fiction. So it is with no surprise that his latest outing, Skinner, should be not only a rabid page-turner but a move from his already impressive body of work.
Skinner is a high-tech trans-global spy-thriller that grabs your full attention ties it to a chair and pulls a Clockwork Orange on it. Skinner, the character, works in the field of ‘asset protection’. He excels at protection and ensuring the that the cost of acquisition is greater than its value. For example, any attack on one of Skinner’s assets will be dealt with so severely it was never worth the initial attack. Thanks to this mission statement and Skinner’s repeated application of it, he isn’t typically messed with. Until his handlers decide he has become too good. Now, after several years in exile, Skinner is forced back into the game to protect a technophile while she hunts down the perpetrators of a cyber-assault on America.
Skinner’s reappearance and ‘old-school’ methods are a brilliant POV into the world and workings of Jae, the computer savant. Huston bridges the gap between spy-fiction and cutting edge techno thrillers in a manner that alienates no one. And this bridge holds allowing him to a freedom to integrate real-world tech with things that are only 5 minutes down the road. In an age of thinned out content and music which is ‘tinny, sleight, cranked up, always referencing the past…” Huston’s prose cut through the noise and punch into the future.
Someone had to do it.
I’m glad it was Charlie Huston.