The Bottom Line: One of the year’s best crime novels. Homeowner with a Gun is a white-knuckled, ripped-from-the-headlines thriller about the unexpected consequences of killing intruders during a home invasion.
What could be more terrifying than a home invasion? As author Samuel Hawley demonstrates in Homeowner with a Gun, it could be the paradox of self-defense.
Jeff Shaw is a family man, homeowner and grocery store clerk. When his wife awakens him at 2:18 a.m., he comes to the startling realization that intruders have broken into their 1920s fixer upper. He reaches for his handgun. Jeff’s tour of duty in Iraq may have been strictly food service, but thanks to his professional weapons training, he manages to kill both prowlers.
When daylight arrives, the shaken family man just wants to put the whole thing behind him. Until he receives a threatening phone call. Enter Thomas Montgomery, AKA “I-Man,” a hardened criminal and cousin to one of the dead intruders. I-Man is working a dead-end job at a carwash to appease his parole officer, but he’s still involved in a dangerous street gang called ANG (“Ain’t No Game”). The only thing he can think of – and perhaps the only thing he has to live for – is revenge for his cousin’s death.
The police’s advice? Stay somewhere else for a while. But for Jeff, that means a lifetime of fear that ANG will continue to terrorize – or kill – his family. So when he’s inadvertently left alone at the police station with a list of suspected ANG gang members, he senses a chance to put his fears to rest for good.
The genius of Jeff Shaw is that he’s just like most of the people on your block (think Walter White during the first episode of Breaking Bad). It would have been easy for Hawley to draw him as a vigilante making a political statement about gun control. But instead, Jeff is just a guy who agonizes over whether to renew his AAA membership and how much much fixing his roof will cost. After killing the intruders, he’s filled with anything but relief, and that sense of humanity is exactly why Homeowner with a Gun works on so many levels. That’s also why you’ll root for him as his flawed plan for resolution takes a shocking twist.