Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book Review: Blank Confession by Pete Hautman

Blank Confession by Pete Hautman
Release Date: November 16, 2010
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Pages: 176
Received: Library
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 
Goodreads Page


Officer Rawls is ready to go home when a teenage boy walks into the station requesting to confess to murder. Shayne Blank, the teenager, is in no hurry to disclose the name of his victim or the method of death. Instead, he takes Rawls back to a few weeks before the incident, recounting a twisted tale of bullying, extortion, and the sordid world of drug dealing. Running counterpoint to Officer Rawls’s account of Shayne’s confession is Mikey’s similar, but significantly different, narration of the events. Both narrations unfold in parallel, steadily building to reveal the murder and the shocking truth behind Shayne Blank.


Much as I love a solid 250-350 page book (or series!), I always appreciate a well-told short novel. Clocking in at only 176 pages, Blank Confession doesn’t waste a single word and never feels rushed or under-developed. Instead, the reader is taken on multiple journeys following the various characters as their experiences intersect and build to a satisfying conclusion. These multiple perspectives flesh out the story and add character depth that could not have been accomplished as well with a different narration style. It is little features like this narration choice that set really good writers apart.

Each of the characters offer something different, with easy, likable voices and personalities I can relate to well. Shayne reminded me of a younger version of Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name. He is the definition of quiet cool. He calmly evaluates situations, protects the weak, and bravely confronts the villains. We see Shayne through both Mikey’s hero-worshiping eyes and Rawls’s adult perspective. Both versions of Shayne present positively and make me wish my path would cross with someone like him.

While Shayne is the focal point of the story, Mikey is the true main character. We see half the book through his eyes. He is the character we are supposed to relate to, and with his candid narration this is an easy and enjoyable experience. This book is about Shayne’s actions, but more importantly it is about how Shayne’s actions, presence, and influence affect Mikey. Mikey grows considerably throughout the book and engages in a good deal of introspection and change. Despite the brevity of the book, these changes don’t seem rushed or unbelievable at all.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the plot is what kept me turning pages late into the night. The chapters are very short and the plot moves at a satisfyingly brisk pace. Hautman continually teases the reader, layering events in a way that steadily builds to the shocking conclusion. Here I related strongly with Rawls, sitting at the edge of my seat and wanting to reach into the book and shake the conclusion out of Shayne.

We know from the outset that someone dies, but we don’t know who it will be and the plot twists offer up numerous possibilities. Some characters I hoped would die, but others I was biting my nails hoping they would be ok. The more I read, the more worried I became because I was also growing increasingly attached to Shayne and I hoped he hadn’t killed someone I cared about.

I appreciated the way Hautman chose to end the book. I am satisfied with the murder/victim and the final reveal about Shayne brought this book to another level and gave me one final bone to chew over for weeks after having finished the book. This book impressed me and I will be sure to check out more of Pete Hautman’s books in the future. If you're interested in reading another review, then check out this equally glowing review from The Book Vixen!
 Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 


  1. This sounds really good. I love books in multiple perspectives. Great review :)

  2. It does sound rather good. I've not heard of this author before.

  3. I just got this one from the library myself. I hadn't heard of it until I saw it on the library shelf. The blurb caught my interest as well as it's smaller size.

  4. This book sounds good, especially the plot, and I appreciate you choosing a "well-told short novel". Those are always a great find! :-)

  5. I'm excited about this book - I'm putting it on my list. I've read others by Hautman, but this one has escaped my radar. Thanks!

  6. Hmm, sounds really good. I especially like how short it is, but full of action. What genre would this be classified under?

  7. Nic, I like multiple perspectives too. The author does a really good job with it.

    The Slowest Bookworm, I hadn't heard of the author before either. I'm going to have to check out his other books now.

    The Book Vixen, I hope you enjoy it! I'll be looking forward to your review. :)

    Jessica, I love well-told short books! They really impress me.

    Annette, You're welcome! I hope you enjoy it. I think it's his most recent book

    Gina, I think you might like this one. I think I would classify it as contemporary.

  8. I'm usually not a fan of books that are this short. If I love a book, I want it to keep on going for pages and pages. And it seems hard to imagine that someone could relate a well thought out plot in such a short space. That said, this does sound like it has managed to avoid that and still have a satisfying ending.

  9. Wow, this sounds like an amazing book! As Aylee said, I too, usually don't enjoy short reads. However, this one sounds very appealing and I can't wait to try it out! Great review!

  10. Aylee and TB, Oh I know what you both mean. I think this book was the perfect length to tell the story though. The characters were developed well, the plot was engaging without feeling rushed, and the book never felt incomplete or too short.

  11. Well, that's good to hear then! I find it very impressive that the author was able to accomplish that in such a short space!

  12. Me too. I'm always in awe of authors who can pull that off.

  13. Oh, I don't know if I could have kept from looking at the back page. Just reading your review made me tense. This one sounds so good and if it were 250 or God forbid 350 pages I'd never get through it! I'm definitely going to read this one. Great review!


  14. I hope you enjoy it! I have to admit, it was very difficult to keep myself from peeking ahead. :) But don't!

  15. I'm back! (Now that I've read this book.)

    This was my 2nd book I read from this author. The first book I read was How To Steal A Car. Simple, yet interesting premise about a crime of opportunity. I'll probably read more by this author. His writing is different yet captivating.

  16. This is the first book I've read by Pete Hautman, but I think I'm going to look into How To Steal a Car now on your recommendation. I agree, his writing is captivating. I'm surprised at how much depth he was able to write with so few pages.


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