Read All Hat by Brad Smith Online


A novel about hope, redemption, and getting even, not necessarily in that orderJust out of prison for attacking the man who assaulted his sister, Ray Dokes heads back to the small Canadian town where he was raised. Vowing to lie low, he moves in with Pete Culpepper, a Texas cowboy who has always been a grounding influence on Ray, but whose debts are growing faster than hisA novel about hope, redemption, and getting even, not necessarily in that orderJust out of prison for attacking the man who assaulted his sister, Ray Dokes heads back to the small Canadian town where he was raised. Vowing to lie low, he moves in with Pete Culpepper, a Texas cowboy who has always been a grounding influence on Ray, but whose debts are growing faster than his corn. Between roofing houses and watching Pete's nine-year-old gelding at the races, Ray soon crosses paths with just about everyone in town, including Pete's new jockey, Chrissie, a tough young woman whose ease with horses is equaled only by her mistrust of people, and Ray's former lover Etta, who views him with more skepticism than ever. Then there are the hired hands of the Stanton Stables: Dean, a wise guy who embodies the phrase "all hat and no cattle," and his sidekick, Paulie, a simple-hearted man who has a way with animals. And last but not least, there's Sonny Stanton, the vicious, violent, and spoiled heir of his father's electronics fortune-and the man Ray spent two years in jail for nearly killing. When the opportunity arises to con Sonny out of some ill-gained wealth-and protect themselves and their homes in the process-everyone's willing to band together and take a gamble.Surprisingly poignant yet laugh-out-loud funny, All Hat tells a classic story of little guys fighting big guys and reaffirming the meaning of honesty and friendship-and second chances-in the process. ...

Title : All Hat
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780805072174
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

All Hat Reviews

  • Brad
    2019-04-10 23:58

    This review was originally published in "ffwd Weekly." The quotes were gathered during my interview with Brad Smith.Sometimes you crack open a book and you think, “Hmm. Where have I read this before?” You might be tempted to put that book down and move on to something else – something more original – but resist the temptation with Brad Smith’s new novel All Hat.We’ve heard variations of Smith’s dialogue in countless movies – mostly in old B-grade film noir – and the plot is as familiar as your parents’ ratty old sofa. The book opens with Ray Dokes leaving prison. He’s the classic ex-con who got a raw deal from the justice system after defending the honor of his sister. He’s a cross between Batman and “Robin Hood,” a man that nearly everyone looks up to and respects. Meanwhile, Etta, the woman he loves, is struggling to keep her farm and care for her ailing father while Sonny Stanton, the son of a rich horse breeder, is buying up all the surrounding land to put together a shady development deal. Admittedly, it’s a struggle to get through Smith’s early onslaught of the over-familiar. But once the clichés are embraced by the reader something interesting begins to happen: Smith’s small town Ontario characters begin to grow on us. Recognizing the conventions with which he is playing, Smith makes a conscious effort to overcome cliché by providing depth to characters that might otherwise be mere archetypes:“Even if a lot of it doesn’t make it onto the page I know who these people are,” says Smith. “I know Etta’s background and Paulie’s background. Just to have one or two main characters, to really give the development to them, and have these other characters be sort of one dimensional doesn’t work because people just won’t care about them.”But he definitely succeeds in making us care. The story itself – the plot – has been seen in countless Hollywood movies and, at times, it feels like a crazy mix of Dick Francis & Elmore Leonard, but Smith actually manages to make us feel for his characters – despite their conventional setting. Smith’s characters are so compelling, in fact, that he’s consistently being asked about the fate of two of his supporting cast: Paulie and Dean. These men started out, conceptually, as villains, but they became something very different as Smith tapped his book into the computer.“When I started writing All Hat they were nastier than they turned out to be,” explains Smith. “They were going to be just a couple of punks, but it really wasn’t working. But then I got going with Paulie and his love of animals and he really just took off from there. And, because of that, it really brought Dean around a bit. He’s not as evil as I thought he’d be – he’s kind of a bonehead – but he’s not an evil guy.”Once Ray, Paulie and Dean – and all the others who populate Smith’s world – have grown on us it’s hard not to cut Smith slack for the familiar feel of the rest of the book, particularly when his background is taken into consideration. Smith is a screenwriter, and his craft has an obvious influence on his prose.“I write strong cinematic dialogue and very visually,” says Smith. “It’s the only way I know how to write, really. To Smith’s credit, his writing calls to mind the novels of another screenwriter/novelist, John Sayles. Not bad company for a small town Ontario author. All Hat is not a great piece of literature. It should not win any major literary prizes. But it’s fun, light and likable. And, as a summer read, as a backyard sun tanning book, that’s exactly what it should be.

  • Larry
    2019-04-12 17:48

    Ray Dokes is a decent man, fresh out of prison, and not sure of what comes next in his life. Well, next is a thoroughly enjoyable Canadian tale about horse racing, good guys and bad guys and just desserts. Ray moves in with an old buddy, Pete, one of a dying breed of small-time racehorse owners. He connects with former girlfriend Etta, a no-bullcrap young jockey named Chrissie and his old nemesis, the lowdown horseman, Sonny Stanton (any character in a novel named Sonny you know is a bad guy). Then there’s Jackson Jones, trainer of Stanton Stables, plus Dean and Paulie, Sonny’s go-fers. And they are all fed up with this a-hole who always seems to have the upper hand. The action is real, the characters just seem right, and that includes the horses who are all given distinct personalities. And the ending is straight out of the old ‘Mission Impossible’ tv show.

  • Mkb
    2019-03-21 22:58

    I am sure that part of why I am charmed by this book is that it is set in a southwestern Ontario that I recognize. I like the characters. When I started reading it I compared All Hat to An Elmore Leonard novel (loser criminals and ex/cons who are trying to get it right) but I think the characters seem to have greater depth than EL's sometimes do. I like the sympathy with which the author portrays the very difficult situations people find themselves in, trying to hold on to the family farm.

  • Mimi Davis Hopkins
    2019-04-11 19:07

    Country LivingThis is a very enjoyable story! All of the characters are imitations of someone we have all come across. The storyline is great with a very good flow. This story has a great ending.

  • Philip
    2019-04-07 23:53

    ???????????That's my first assessment of this book! I find it very difficult to review this book as I so wanted to like it because I chose it to read as part of my project to read Canadian Crime writers and especial stories set in Canada - BUT?????????First, I guess the PROS --- - I definitely liked the writing and the character development as all the main characters were well developed as well as some of the minor ones, although I think Ray's sister could have used a bit more depth but that;s a very minor flaw. - The actual story premise and plot was OK and actually would have been quite enjoyable except for the MAJOR goofs!! - The setting was superb!Now the CONS --- - First and foremost is the fact that if a writer is going to place a novel in a specific industry he/she should have at least a basic knowledge of how that industry operates and the laws, rules and regulations governing that industry. If he/she doesn't have that knowledge, personally, then he/she MUST do adequate research to find the facts or just forget about writing any fiction based in that industry! In this novel THERE IS NOT ONE THING IN THE RACE RELATED SCENES THAT IS EVEN REMOTELY POSSIBLE IN THE RACING INDUSTRY IN ONTARIO! Absolute NONSENSE!!!! And since I have worked in the racing industry in Ontario for 56 years I think I know what I'm talking about!!!!!!! - Second - And this is a personal beef! - Since in those 56 years I've been involved with StandardBred horses (Basically Same Rules & Regulations as the Thoroughbreds except the Standardbreds use Artificial Insemination which is banned in the Thoroughbreds - ANOTHER ERROR in the book!) I take great exception to the repeated use of "Scrawny Standardbred" . I have seen damn few Scrawny Standardbreds in my life but I seen quite a few far from robust Thoroughbreds!!!!!As I said I really wanted to like this book as the author is almost a neighbour, living only a few Kilos from me but I was very disappointed. I do have the movie on DVD and will watch it (Another habit of mine - Read the novel - watch the movie in either order) and I'll probably read another of his books 'cause I acquired it free!! But I doubt I'd buy one!!

  • Steven Langdon
    2019-04-10 17:48

    "From the title and the cowboy hat and the horses, you might think this is an Alberta-based novel. But nope, this is southern Ontario, where most of the cowboys are wannabees, the horses are headed for the racetracks, and the men and women are scrabbling to make ends meet, not thriving on oil revenues. This is where I grew up, and this truly feels like the working class part of the towns and villages and small farms of the real Ontario. Brad Smith captures the tough guy loyalties, the sometimes conflictual romances, and the often precarious insecurities in this rugged world.This is a guy book, seen through men's eyes, in which the good guys, in an amazing and amusing coup, come out on top of the rich sob's who normally have things their own way. And it is a fun book -- vividly written, with an outrageous plot, a wicked populist edge, and characters you would like to hear from again."

  • Kerry Clair
    2019-04-06 18:00

    Wasn't really crazy about this one. It was well written, progressed smoothly, was a good tale...but for me there was just too much secrecy about everything. Took you forever to be told the history and information about the characters and it wasn't like the info really changed anything about the story. So you're just sort of in the dark the whole way through. I also really didn't attach myself to any of the characters. Really didn't have opinions for them one way or the other. Shrug. Just didn't care too much for this one.

  • Bellarush
    2019-04-14 21:06

    I'm surprised I gave this as high a rating as I did, given that the horse and racing related details are so completely WRONG in this book I wanted to throw it in the woodstove. They became so frequent I gave up and convinced myself to enjoy the book in spite of this very consistent inaccuracy. The characters won me over, and were a major redeeming feature. Fantastic dialogue. Too bad this guy didn't get the horse part right, it would have been a really great book if he had.

  • Chi Dubinski
    2019-04-08 19:53

    Brad Smith’s “All Hat,” is the story of Ray Dokes, just out of prison for beating up the man who raped his sister. Ray returns to the farm owned by an old friend, and the two men wonder if it’s worth it to try to keep the struggling farm alive for another season. The friend has his hopes pinned on winning a race with a bargain horse picked up at an auction. The cast of characters includes a foul mouth woman jockey, Ray’s old lover, and a wanna be wise guy who is “all hat and no cattle.”

  • Daniel Kukwa
    2019-04-08 15:48

    I'm not usually a fan of books that heavily feature cowboys or horse racing. But Brad Smith certainly manages to write a suitably entertaining novel using such ingredients...while adding a bit of tasty & satisfying retribution into the mix. THIS is the kind of novel that would translate extremely well to television...preferably on HBO or Showtime.

  • Neil
    2019-03-21 20:44

    I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.This is an easy read with some interesting characters to keep it rolling on.The ending is left open for a further story but other than this there are no complaints.

  • Theo
    2019-04-02 20:05

    A Canadian cowboy story of "comeupance" where the "little guy" works together with the other "little guys" for revenge and cowboy justice. A fun read! I understand it has been made into a movie...I'd see that!

  • Elliot Cosubei
    2019-04-01 21:07

    Fun; recommended by Trillium Cosubei. I'll write more later. Maybe.

  • Martha
    2019-03-30 19:53

    first few chapters read like a country-and-western song

  • Rodd
    2019-03-21 17:03

    Good. Read more of his.

  • Erna
    2019-04-18 21:55

    Good story and characters. I like the description, "All hat and no cattle". It is better than a fry short of a happy meal.

  • John
    2019-04-13 16:55

    One of my favorite Canadian authors. A fun book about horse racing, swindles and double crosses.

  • Patricia Caviglia
    2019-04-01 20:50

    My favourite author! Great realistic characters without boundaries, set in Canada, and a crazy scheme.

  • Glenn
    2019-03-31 21:39

    Actually 3.5 stars - combining a western theme with the horse racing world and a great con.

  • Susan Scamara
    2019-03-27 17:39

    I read a review that made this sound like a humorous mystery, which it is not. However, it is a good story with well developed characters & one humorous scene that had me rolling on the floor.

  • Cristah Cochran
    2019-04-09 22:50

    So, cowboys aren't really my thing, and I think if they were, I'd have liked this book a lot more. Definitely worth reading, though.

  • Nic
    2019-04-09 18:45

    I loved the country-noir and grit in this was like Last Picture Show mixed or No Country For Old Men mixed with humor and a great heist storyline. It was a fun read.