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Six Bad Things (Hank Thompson Series #2)
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Six Bad Things (Hank Thompson Series #2)

4.3 33
by Charlie Huston

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Hank Thompson is living off the map in Mexico with a bagful of cash that the Russian mafia wants back and many, many secrets. So when a Russian backpacker shows up in town asking questions, Hank tries to play it cool. But he knows the jig is up when the backpacker mentions the money . . . and the family Hank left behind. Suddenly Hank’s in a desperate race to


Hank Thompson is living off the map in Mexico with a bagful of cash that the Russian mafia wants back and many, many secrets. So when a Russian backpacker shows up in town asking questions, Hank tries to play it cool. But he knows the jig is up when the backpacker mentions the money . . . and the family Hank left behind. Suddenly Hank’s in a desperate race to get to his parents in California before anyone can harm them. Along the way he’ll face Federales and Border Patrol, mafiosi and vigilantes, extortionists and drug dealers, and a couple of psychotic surf bums with an ax to grind. From the golden beaches of the Yucatán to the seedy strip clubs of Vegas, Charlie Huston opens a door to the squalid underworld of crime and corruption–and invites the reader to live it in the extreme.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Six Bad Things rocks and rolls from the first page. This is one mean, cold, slit-eyed mother of a book, and Charlie Huston is the real deal.”
–Peter Straub

–Jeff Lindsay, author of Darkly Dreaming Dexter

“Charlie Huston is a bad-ass writer, Six Bad Things is a bad-ass book. I loved it, absolutely loved it, as I did his first book. Can’t wait for whatever else comes from him.”
–James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces

“Charlie Huston is a great wordsmith who also happens to be a great storyteller, and in Six Bad Things he’s produced a novel that is edgy, funny, and suspenseful all at once. It’s a terrific read.”
–David Liss, author of A Spectacle of Corruption

“A body slam of a thriller, crammed to the brim with speed-dial action, scene-chewing dialogue and a throat-clutcher of a plot. The characters are as real as a wanted poster–from Russian gangsters and Mexican feds to businessmen who make the Enron gang look like Britannica salesmen. A smooth blend of the best of Elmore Leonard, George V. Higgins, and Robert B. Parker, Six Bad Things is one great book.”
–Lorenzo Carcaterra, author of Sleepers and Paradise City

“Bloody amazing. He reminds me of all my favorite writers–Pete Dexter, Robert Stone, Crumley. Surprising, funny, compassionate, edge-of-seat stuff, and beautifully written. If there is such a thing as compassionate noir, Charlie has found it. A true marvel.”
–Ken Bruen, author of The Guards

The Barnes & Noble Review
In Six Bad Things -- the blood-spattered sequel to Charlie Huston's highly acclaimed debut, Caught Stealing -- down-and-out New York City bartender turned mass murderer and unlikely folk hero Henry "Hank" Thompson has been laying low in the Yucatán for the last three years, with a cool $4.5 million of stolen Russian Mob money. But when a Russian bounty hunter comes calling at Hank's beachside shack, he knows it's time to run again -- this time back to Vegas, where his luck runs out.

With the Russian Mob and the Mexican police hot on his tail, Hank sends what's left of the multimillion-dollar stash to a friend for safekeeping. But once in the States, Hank realizes quickly that during the three years he has been hiding out in Mexico, he has become a kind of infamous celebrity in America. With a book written about his life on bestseller lists and a regular gig on America's Most Wanted, Henry Thompson registers on everyone's radar -- as does the hefty reward for catching him.

The second installment in a projected trilogy about Hank Thompson, Six Bad Things is, simply put, relentless. With more nonstop action than a Grand Theft Auto video game, ultra-violence around every corner, insane car chases, gory shootouts, an endless array of 14k characters (including antagonistic drug dealers, psycho surfers, and worn-out strippers), and an antihero who is equal parts Jimmy Buffett and John Dillinger, this novel is truly amazing -- easily one of the best crime thrillers of recent years. Paul Goat Allen

Patrick Anderson
Six Bad Things is so good, in part, because Huston manages to make it horrific, hilarious and hip. If Huston's literary godfathers include Raymond Chandler and Elmore Leonard, they also include Hunter S. Thompson, who would have appreciated the speed freaks, crank heads, gun nuts, Russian mobsters, greedy federales, and assorted geeks and psychos who populate these pages … If you agree that the art of killing can encompass comedy as well as tragedy, Six Bad Things is state of the art. This crazed, wildly readable adventure works because Huston writes with such delicious, deadpan verve and because Hank, his self-described mad-dog killer, is such an appealing, totally cool dude.
— The Washington Post
Marilyn Stasio
Huston writes dialogue so combustible it could fuel a bus and characters crazy enough to take it on the road. Passengers, line up here.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
More than fulfilling the promise of Huston's 2004 debut, Caught Stealing, this remarkably assured hard-boiled caper has rapid-fire pacing, dead-on dialogue and a beleaguered protagonist who just can't get a break. Former minor league baseball player Hank Thompson barely escaped with his life at the end of Caught, making off with $4 million of the Russian mafia's money. Several years later, he's running a breakfast place in the Yucatan, down the shore from his secluded hut. When a Russian bounty hunter shows up asking questions, Hank Fed-Exes his bankroll to a friend in Las Vegas and sneaks north across the border. When not trying to kill him, two surf bum criminals convince him they're allies; as the book reaches its climax, Hank finds himself dodging a memorable cast of lowlifes, would-be mobsters and scammers. Huston takes care with Hank, making him funny and sympathetic (even as he reminds us that he has killed six people in New York), and giving even cardboard situations and slight exchanges charge. (One of the surfers on a pair of boots: "Kind of metallish for my taste, but fuck it, we're incognito, right?") This second installment of a planned trilogy will leave readers anxious for more. Agent, Simon Lipskar at Writers House. 5-city author tour. (July 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
You may have known someone like Hank Thompson in school: cordial, accommodating, talented, prone to erratic behavior, and already well on his way either to the state house or the big house. Hank's story resumes where Huston's well-received Caught Stealing ended. The subject of The Man Who Got Away, a tell-all biography that puts him at least a peg or two above the riffraff featured on Cops, Hank is now on the lam in Mexico. He's sitting uneasily on $4.5 million, with lit cigarettes in both ears (long story), feeling paranoid about everyone he meets. It's taking everything he can muster just to retain his precarious aplomb. Then things really start to sour-people around him tend to end up dead or wishing they were. Hank, a rather endearing slacker who just can't say no to trouble, will entertain fans of straight-ahead, no-holds-barred action. Suitable for most public libraries.-Bob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Huston returns with a bang-banger even gorier than his debut (Caught Stealing, 2004). It's been three years since Hank Thompson, in said debut and accompanied by Bud the cat, hightailed it out of New York with a $4 million swag, ownership of which remains in dispute. Hank says the money belongs to him because he "killed for it," but the Russian Mafia argues a prior claim. At any rate, here's Hank sequestering in Mexico, leading the ex-pat life he favors due mostly to its lack of incident. He swims, he fishes, he hangs out at a bar he half-owns, and then one day a back-packer named Mickey shows up. Mickey the kid. Mickey the Russian kid. Mickey (aka Mikhail) the ambitious kid of a Mafia father. Hank has to hightail it again, this time leaving Bud behind. Mickey, too, actually-the first of many to pay a stiff price for rampaging greed, and for threatening harm to Hank's parents, whom he has always adored. Now he decides the only way to keep them safe is to make them unimportant again: that is, to give up the money, return it to the Russians. One problem: he's lost track of it. The trusted friend in whose custody he'd placed it has stopped returning phone calls. Leaving behind a blood-drenched trail-the Russians have been joined by an array of rapacious others-Hank wends his way to Las Vegas. Bullets fly, more people die-good people, too, some of them-and finally Hank faces the one-on-one that was always in the cards for him. And in an ironic twist learns what it's like to be valued for what he hates most about himself. A crime thriller so relentlessly violent that it could make even the hard-core hard-boiled amenable to the leavening touch of Agatha Christie. Still, a page-turner.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Hank Thompson Series , #2
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.23(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.73(d)

Read an Excerpt

Part one

December 4–11, 2003
Four Regular Season Games Remaining

I’m sitting on the porch of a bungalow on the Yucatán Peninsula with lit cigarettes sticking out of both my ears.

I like to go swimming in the mornings. When I first came to Mexico I liked to go drinking in the mornings, but after I got over that I took up swimming and I discovered something. I have unusually narrow ear canals. Go figure. I discovered this while I was trying to sober up, paddling around in the lukewarm morning waters, and found that my ears were clogged. I tilted my head from side to side and banged on my skull, trying to dislodge the water, but no luck. I plugged my nose, clamped my mouth shut, and blew until it felt like my brain might pop out of my ass. No good. I crammed Q-tips up my ears, prodding at the blockage. That’s when things got really bad. For a few days I walked around half-deaf, feeling like my entire head was packed with waterlogged cotton. Then I went to a doctor. I have a habit of saving doctors for a last resort.

Dr. Sanchez looked in my ears and informed me of the tragic news: unusually narrow ear canals. The water was trapped deep inside and my irresponsible Q-tip use had sealed it in with earwax. He loaded a syringe the size of a beer can with warm mineral water and injected it into my ears until the pressure dislodged the massive clogs of wax and washed them into the small plastic basins I held just below my ears. He gave me drops. He told me never to stick anything in my ear other than my elbow, and laughed at his own joke. He nodded sagely and told me the solution to my problem was quite simple: When my ears became clogged, I must stick a cigarette into each one and light them. The cigarettes, that is. Then he handed me a pack of Benson & Hedges, told me they were his preferred brand for the task, and charged me a thousand pesos.

So. I am sitting on the porch of a bungalow on the Yucatán Peninsula with lit cigarettes sticking out of both my ears. The cigarettes burn and create a vacuum in my ears, sucking the moisture into the filters. I have a towel draped over each shoulder to catch the hot ash as it falls. I’ve been doing this a couple days a week for years and it always works. Of course, I do now smoke two packs of Benson & Hedges a day, but there’s a downside to everything in life.

The sun has dipped far in the sky behind my back and the reds of the sunset are reflected in the perfect blue sea before me. A soft breeze is caressing my skin and I adjust my sarong so that it can waft higher on my legs. The heat of the cigarettes has become intense. I reach up and pinch them out of my ears, careful not to squeeze so hard that the waxy fluid trapped in the filters leaks out. I dump them into an ashtray near my feet, slip the towels off my shoulders, stand up, and start walking toward the water. The beach is pretty much abandoned. A ways off to my right I can see a small group of local boys covered head to toe in sand, kicking a soccer ball around on their homemade field. In the opposite direction, the silhouette of a pair of lovers kissing. When my feet hit the wet strip of sand near the water’s edge I give my sarong a tug. It falls to the ground, leaving me naked, and I walk down into the gently lapping waves. The beach slopes away so shallowly that I can walk upright in the water for almost fifty yards before it will cover my head. I walk in the water with the sun sinking behind me, hearing the soft slap of the tiny waves quite clearly in my unclogged ears. I’ll probably have to do it all over again when I get out, twisting the cigarettes into my ears, lighting them, and waiting patiently while they burn down, but it will be worth it. I want to take one last swim today. I’m going home tomorrow and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to come back here.

Machine guns wake me up in the morning, but they’re just in my head. I have my backpack ready by the door, the waterproof money belt draped over it. I go to the bathroom and stand under the showerhead. The water is a gentle warm sprinkle, not the thing to snap you out of a nightmare. Still sleepy, I close my eyes. Pedro explodes past me backwards, his torso stitched open by a cloud of bullets. My eyes snap open. I walk out of the shower and drip water across the bungalow floor to the boom box. I search the CDs for something loud. Led Zeppelin? Something fast and loud. The Replacements. I put in Pleased to Meet Me, the opening chords of “I.O.U.” blare out, and Paul Westerberg starts screaming. I turn it up.

I finish my shower, pull on a pair of cotton fatigue-style pants, grab keys, sunglasses, my papers, and a hefty wad of pesos. I check the money belt, make sure the extra passport and ID are where I can get to them easily, and strap it on. A tank top, short-sleeve linen shirt, a pair of trail sneakers, and I’m dressed. I grab the backpack and sling one strap over my shoulder.

—Come on, cat.

Bud leaps from the comfy chair, walks over to the kitchenette cabinet, and meows.

—Sorry, Buddy, no time. You can eat at Pedro’s.

He meows again. I walk over, grab him by the nape of his neck, and put him on top of the pack.

—Fresh fish at Pedro’s. Trust me, it’ll be worth the wait.

I turn off the box, take a last look around. Did I forget anything? I mean, other than not to fuck up my life again? Nope, all taken care of. Back door bolted, storm shutters padlocked. Good enough. I walk onto the porch and set Bud and the pack down next to the door.

I’m pulling the tarp off the Willys when I see a white Bronco turn off the trail a quarter mile down the beach and come bouncing across the sand toward me. Could be they just have a few more questions, but I don’t think cops roll up on you at dawn to ask questions.

I drop the tarp, wave, and point to the bungalow with a big smile on my face. One of the Federales in the Bronco waves back. I walk to the bungalow, grab Bud and the pack, step inside, lock the front door, go out the back, and dash across the sand into the jungle that is my backyard. All I have to do is get to Pedro’s and I’ll be OK. Unless the cops are there too.

This is how things get fucked up again.

Once every three months you walk to the grocery next to the highway and use the pay phone to call a guy in New York. And this one time you call, and he tells you about a story everyone back there is telling.

—Say you’re a guy and you’re out taking a walk and you get thirsty and it’s hot, so what you really want is a beer. Thing is, it’s really hot, August hot in the City, with the garbage piled up and stinking, and the people with dogs that they don’t pick up the shit after, so you don’t want a beer from a deli, not even one of those sixteen ouncers from the bottom of the ice barrel the places put right out on the sidewalk. It’s so hot and the street stinks so much from garbage and dog shit and piss, what you want is a cold beer in a cool dark room. So fuck the can from the ice barrel, you’re going in this bar right here that you know it’s a bar ’cause out front is a neon sign that says BAR.

You tell the guy you get the point and wonder if maybe he can get to the payoff. You hear the gurgling sound of a bong over the long- distance line. Then he starts talking again, in the unmistakable voice of someone trying to hold in a gargantuan lungful of smoke.

—So you go in and it’s just what you hoped for, cool from the AC, dark ’cause the window is tinted. There’s maybe something good on the juke like Coltrane, “My Favorite Things,” but not too loud. And not crowded ’cause it’s the middle of the day in the middle of the week; just the bartender and a couple regulars.

There’s a huge whoosh over the phone as the guy lets the smoke out, but he doesn’t cough. The guy you’re talking to hasn’t coughed on a hit since he was maybe twelve; he would consider it unprofessional at this point is his life. The thought of smoke knocks against something in your head and you dig in the pocket of your shorts for a cigarette.

—So you sit down and the bartender puts down the paper he’s looking at and he comes over and he’s never seen you and you’ve never seen him, but he gives you a little nod and you nod back ’cause you know you’re each other’s people ’cause he’s working in a bar in the middle of the day and you’re coming into one at the same time. You tell the guy, Bottle of Bud, toss a twenty on the bar, he opens the fridge, grabs your beer, pops the cap, sets it on the bar, takes your twenty off the bar, and walks to the register.

No cigarettes.

—Bartender comes back, drops seventeen bucks in front of you, which, three bucks ain’t too bad for a bottle of Bud in New York these days, so you feel pretty good about that. You guys do the nod thing again and he goes back to his paper. You wrap your hand around that bottle and take your first sip. It’s coooooold. Bartender reads his paper, bar hounds over there, one is doing a crossword, one is just chain-smoking and making his Old Crow last. You drink your beer, listen to the music and you’re having a pretty good day, figure you’ll stick around that place and drink the rest of that twenty.

You know what he’s talking about. You’ve had days like that.

—And that’s when the door bangs open, some dingleberry comes in, orders a fucking margarita so now the bartender has to work and he sits down right next to you and starts with the fucking chatter. There goes your mellow, right out the window.

You think about the pack of smokes sitting on the little table on your porch at home. Down the phone lines, the bong rips again, and you know this story isn’t getting any shorter.

—This dingleberry, he lives in the place, but you can tell by the way the bartender doesn’t give him the nod and the way the boozehounds turn their stools away from him a little that they all wish he would fucking move out. Right now he can’t believe his luck, a new fucking face in this place he can chew the ear off of. He starts right in with, Hey my name’s so and so and I do such and such and ain’t it hotter than a bitch out there and this bartender he can’t make a good margarita to save his life and here’s the secret to a good margarita. And the questions. What’s your name anyway? Ain’t seen you here before, you from around here? You never been here before, you don’t know about this place? Everybody knows about this place, how can you be from around here and not know about the old M Bar, the old Murder Bar?

You stop worrying about the cigarettes.

—Yeah, the dingleberry calls the place the Murder Bar. It’s that place, you know the one. They had it closed for a couple years? Well, now it’s open again. So he tells this story about the place, how it’s not really named the Murder Bar or even the M Bar, that’s just what people from the neighborhood, people in the know, call it ’cause they were living here when it happened. He tells you, Feel around under the ledge of the bar, the wood there, you can feel the holes that are still there from when they shot the place up and killed all those people in here. And he’s right, the holes are there. They sanded them down so you don’t get any splinters, but the holes are there, man.

You hear the guy on the phone take a quick drink of something and you know exactly what it is. You can almost smell it, the warm bite of Tullamore Dew.

Meet the Author

Charlie Huston is an American author of pulp crime novels and comic books. He is best known for his supernatural noir Joe Pitt Casebooks series and his pulp trilogy featuring Henry Thompson about a case of mistaken identity. He has written several comic books in the Marvel universe including The Punisher: Frank Castle and Wolverine: The Best There Is. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Six Bad Things (Hank Thompson Series #2) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
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treeharp More than 1 year ago
This 2nd book in the Thompson series is where you think has outsmarted the bad guys... Think again. GREAT READ!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, sequel to "Caught Stealing", Just as good as the first one
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Baneeza More than 1 year ago
Charlie Huston's Six Bad Things is even bigger and badder than its predecessor. Six Bad Things explodes with violence and gore, balanced with humor and thrills that will have you reeling. Huston has done it again and delivered a piece of work that sucks you into its world with its sharp dialogue, distinct characters, and endless action. Hank Thompson is laying low in Mexico until a Russian backpacker discovers and attempts to extort him. Now Thompson is on the run again from the FBI and very dangerous men who want his money. He weaves and snakes his way through Mexico, California, and Vegas using his wits, smart mouth, guns, and money to survive. With everybody on his tail, Hank barely has time to get things sorted out. But when he finally does think things through, he realizes that all he has to do is kill everybody.
SavageBS More than 1 year ago
That's Henry's anthem in "Six Bad Things", he has the money, everyone wants the money and/or him dead! Henry has long hair, a Mexican tan and several new tattoos. On his forearm he has six slash marks, representing the "Six Bad Things" Henry did in New York, the six people he killed that is! By the end of "Six Bad Things" Henry is responsible for four more "bad" things~ I thought this 2nd installment was excellent, a very fast paced read and alot of gritty action in all new settings, Mexico & Las Vegas. I absolutely loved his new colorful characters - Rolf, Sid, Sandy Candy, "T" and his dog Hitler! Charlie Huston is a master of his craft. I can't wait to read more of his books. So far Huston's writing is so good, I'm really, really thinking of reading his (Joe Pitt) series, and I have no interest in vampire books.....
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