RARA-AVIS: Pete Hautman

From: Paul Farrell ( pm_farrell@hotmail.com)
Date: 19 Aug 2003

Craig Larson wrote:
>One of the books I read while I was away for a two-week
>vacation was Pete Hautman's _Rag Man_. The blurbs on the
>book led me to expect a rollicking, comedic story along
>the lines of Carl Hiaasen, but this was a pretty downbeat
>and ultimately depressing story that really doesn't seem
>that out of place for a mention on this list. Has anyone
>else read it? Other Hautman titles?

I've also recently finished Hautman's "Rag Man". I've read 4 other books by him, and I think "Rag Man" is the weakest of his that I've read, though there are still good scenes in it, most of which occur when MacWray stops being meek.

The other 4 I've read by Hautman are in a more Hiaasen/Leonard vein, unlike
"Rag Man" which strays into definite noir territory by the end. 3 of them have a poker-playing ex-cop named Joe Crow as the main character:

Drawing Dead. The first published Hautman novel. A great con-job story involving comic books and poker playing. Not really noir, but lots of fun.

Short Money. The second Hautman book, though I suspect it was written first, as it's set before Drawing Dead and the writing isn't as good. The story involves an unpleasant plastic surgeon (shades of Hiaasen) and some dangerous hunters who are after him. A bunch of misunderstandings drive the plot, which gets tedious. A weaker effort, but worth reading if you've already read his better books.

Ring Game. A long book involving the crazy founders of a cult and the various people at Joe Crow's gym. The most Hiaasen-ish of Hautman's books, this one is a bit ridiculous. It's still fun to read though.

As well as the Crow books, there's The Mortal Nuts, which has Crow's dad's best friend as its main character. This book is Hautman's best. The plot involves a taco stand at a fair, and an attempted robbery of another stand. The book succeeds because of great characterisation and slow-building suspense.


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