SKINNER by Charlie Huston

Mulholland Books
Pub date: July 7th, 2013

There are very few authors that truly excited me. There are 3 that turn me into a complete fan boy geek. Those are James Ellroy, Joe Lansdale, and Charlie Huston. Those are the guys who I get all giggly over the release of a new book from. Books by those guys to me are the equivalent of new Star Wars films or Game of Thrones episodes to others.

Charlie Huston finally has a new book out called Skinner. It’s been a long awaited release. Huston doesn’t have much of an online presence so it wasn’t like you would see a Facebook update mentioning working on a new book. There was total radio silence. Nobody knew when it would drop. All of a sudden a few months back there was a release date, a title, and a cover. I for one finally had a book to look forward to. It had been a while for me. This summer people have been talking about Man of Steel and World War Z. The hell with that shit. This is the summer of Skinner.

Before I even begin to tell you what the book is about, this book is not the Charlie Huston you are familiar with. This is a very different type of book. Yes, there are elements of pulp in it but it is not a pulp crime novel. Charlie Huston has evolved. Some people will love what he has done and where he is headed. Others will hate it because it’s not a rehash of his Joe Pitt or Henry Thompson books. Anybody who read his novel Sleepless could see that Huston’s views were changing. But nobody could have predicted what was coming and that was Skinner.

Skinner is a man with the job of asset protection. To touch anybody under his protection is to invite complete destruction. That means he will kill anybody remotely involved with fucking with the asset under his care. I’m talking 100% scorched earth. Skinner is very scary. He is so scary that he has been banished to the outer limits of the intelligence community. In the slums of Mumbai, a plot is growing. It’s one that could have the most catastrophic consequences if allowed to happen. Government contractors decide to send in Jae, a genius roboticist to try and track down the root of the plot. Her contractors give her Skinner as her bodyguard. Together they embark on a globetrotting adventure seeking out the people behind the plot.

This is one of those times that I could go on about the plot in detail but that would just ruin it for you. To be quite honest, this is one book that will require multiple reads. There is a lot going on in its pages. Some of it feels ripped straight from the headlines of whatever form of media you get your news from. I wasn’t kidding when I said before that Charlie Huston has evolved. He has clearly begun a new phase in his career. I think he will both lose and gain fans. I for one loved Skinner. Some will have issues with Huston’s evolution. I for one am thrilled with it. I love seeing artists grow. I also wouldn’t be surprised if this book breeds a bit of controversy due to its subject matter. Hell, we may even see parts of it come true.

Dave Wahlman