Blank Confession

Blank Confession

by Pete Hautman


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Shayne Blank is the new kid in town—but that doesn't stop him from getting into a lot of trouble very quickly. The other kids don't understand him. He's not afraid of anything. He seems too smart. And his background doesn't add up. But when he walks into the police department to confess to a murder, it quickly becomes apparent that nothing is as it seems. There's more to Shayne—and his story—than meets the eye. As the details begin to fill in, the only thing that becomes clear is that nothing about Shayne's story is clear at all.

Blank Confession is a compelling mystery that will keep readers turning pages, from National Book Award-winning author Pete Hautman.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416913283
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 11/15/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 449,861
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Pete Hautman is the author of National Book Award–winning novel Godless, Sweetblood, Hole in the Sky, Stone Cold, The Flinkwater Factor, The Forgetting Machine, and Mr. Was, which was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America, as well as several adult novels. He lives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Visit him at

Read an Excerpt

Blank Confession

  • Five lousy minutes.

    Detective George Rawls hung up the phone, brought his feet down from his cluttered desktop, looked at his watch, and sighed. If the kid had walked into the station five minutes later, Rawls’s shift would have been over. He would have been driving home to enjoy a peaceful dinner with his wife.

    Five more minutes and Benson would have caught this case. Rawls stood up and looked over the divider toward Rick Benson’s desk. Benson, looking back at him, smirked. Rawls rolled his eyes and hitched up his pants. They kept falling down—his wife’s fault, all those vegetables she’d been feeding him since his cholesterol numbers came in high.

    He opened the upper left-hand drawer of his desk and took out his service revolver. Rawls was old school; he still used the weapon that had been issued to him as a rookie. He emptied the cylinder into the drawer and slid the unloaded weapon into his shoulder holster.

    The unloaded gun was a prop. These young punks were impressed by such things. Most of them. He left his jacket hanging on the back of his chair and made his way out of the room and down the hallway toward the front entrance. He walked past the long citizens’ bench, automatically checking out the four people sitting there: A slight, pale-faced boy—black jeans, black T-shirt, scuffed-up black cowboy boots—sat with his elbows resting on his knees, staring at the floor. Probably some middle-school bad boy picked up for shoplifting. Next was a young woman wearing a tight skirt, smeared mascara, and a nasty bruise on her right cheek. A hooker, no doubt. Then an anxious-looking older woman, probably there to report a runaway husband, or a purse snatching. At the end was a scowling middle-aged man in a rumpled suit—could be anything.

    Rawls made these assessments automatically and effortlessly. Part of the job.

    Directly facing the front doors of the police station, John Kramoski sat behind his elevated desk flipping through the duty roster. Rawls stopped in front of him. The desk sergeant looked up.

    “Sorry, George,” Kramoski said. “I know your shift is almost over, but you were up. And it’s a kid—your specialty.”

    Rawls was the precinct’s unofficial “Youth Crimes” officer. He had once believed that, working with kids, he might actually make a difference. These days he wasn’t so sure.

    “Where is he?” he asked.

    Kramoski jerked his thumb toward the bench.

    Rawls looked over, surprised. “How come he’s not in the interview room?”

    “He walked in here by himself. Besides, look at him. What’s he gonna do?”

    “We’re talking about the kid on the end, right?”


    Rawls shook his head. “He looks, like, twelve.”

    “Says he’s sixteen.”


    “And Mary and Joseph, bro.” Kramoski returned his attention to the duty roster.

    Rawls walked back down the hall, past the man in the suit, past the older woman, past the prostitute. He stopped in front of the kid and waited for him to look up. It took a few seconds. The kid’s hair was thick, the color of dried leaves, maybe three weeks past needing a cut. He slowly sat back and raised his head to look directly into Rawls’s eyes, his expression devoid of all emotion.

    Rawls felt something throb deep within his gut. He had seen that expression before, on other faces. The face of a mother who had lost her only child. The face of a man who had just learned he would be spending the rest of his life in prison. The face of a girl who woke up to find that she would never walk again. A look of despair so deep and profound was as if the connections between the mind and the face were severed, leaving only a terrible blankness.

    He had seen that expression in other places too. The morgue. Funeral parlors. Murder scenes.

    The face of the dead.

    But this boy was not dead. Somewhere behind those eyes there existed a spark—a spark that had brought him here, to this building, to this bench, to George Rawls.

    “Are you Shayne?” Rawls asked.

    The boy dropped his chin. Rawls took that as a yes and sat beside him on the bench, feeling every last one of his forty-three years, fifteen of them as a cop. Despite having conducted hundreds of such interviews, he found himself at a loss. Something about this kid—who could not have weighed much more than his Labrador retriever—frightened him. Not fear for himself. The other kind of fear: fear that the universe no longer made sense, that everything was about to change.

    “So ...,” Rawls cleared his throat, looking straight ahead, “...who did you kill?”

  • Customer Reviews

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    Blank Confession 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
    steffiebaby140 More than 1 year ago
    Having never read a book by Pete Hautman before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had read a review from someone I know who loved it, and it sounded intriguing so I picked up a copy to see if my first impression was correct. Initially I was excited by this book. It was being told through the POV of a friend of Shayne’s who knew the story that he was telling to the cops. This was interesting but not fascinating. I didn’t really connect with the character and I feel that it made it VERY obvious what was going to happen based on who was narrating and what he said. But even though I had the horrible feeling it was going to end up exactly like I suspected by chapter 2, I carried on. I don’t really feel like all that much happened in this book. The tension level was set at 10 from the beginning of the book, but then nothing really happens and we’re hearing all these extraneous details that I didn’t really care about. I wanted to know who Shayne killed and why, I didn’t want to know about his friend who wears second-hand suits to school to stand out or the friend’s sister who’s got a penchant for bad boys. I wanted to know about things relevant to the plot, and the only time I got that was when they were referring to the person who he claims he killed, which didn’t really make it that hard to figure out. The only way it was ever going to be anyone else is if Shayne is a complete psychopath, which is not what he was portrayed to be. And it did end up being exactly who I suspected it was going to be, and so the tension in the book never really ramped up again after the first few pages. One thing I did like about this book was the part about Shayne’s past and his history. That was interesting and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately that was, quite literally, the very last chapter. In the end I can’t say that I particularly loved the book, but it was decent enough. If you are looking for a mystery, this is probably not the book for you since the predictability levels are off the charts. However, I did find it to be a very poignant statement about bullying which seems to be so prevalent in the youth of this world today. For that reason I am rating this a 3, not great but decent enough that I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it. This review also posted at my blog & other book sites.
    TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
    Although Shayne and Mikey have only been friends for a week, they are both involved in a murder investigation. One of them has confessed, but is he really the guilty one? Shayne describes Mikey as a "dink." Combine Mikey's tiny stature and the odd thrift store suits he wears to school every day, and you have a bully magnet. Their friendship begins on Shayne's first day in the high school when he comes to Mikey's rescue. The two couldn't be more different, but a tight bond between them soon forms. Readers learn the short history of this unusual friendship when Shayne confesses to murdering a high school tough guy named Jon Brande. Mikey fills in the back story as he explains his accidental involvement in Jon's drug distribution ring and his sister's current fascination with "bad boys." Shayne's role in the story is revealed in his drawn out confession to Detective George Rawls. Together, the two parts of the story intertwine to reveal each character's weaknesses and secrets. Author Pete Hautman always seems to give his tales an unusual twist, and BLANK CONFESSION is no exception. This fast read will satisfy his many fans and probably earn him some new ones. If you are looking for something a bit different to kick off a new year of reading, try BLANK CONFESSION.
    edischri on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Blank Confession is a fast, fun read. Officer Rawls is interviewing Shayne Blank, who walked into the police station and confessed that he killed somebody. In alternating chapters, Mikey tells what really happened when Shayne started attending his school. Mikey got on the bad side of the local drug dealer, and Shayne kept stepping in to help him. I liked the characters, particularly Mikey, who compensates for being short by dressing in "bar mitzvah suits" and cracking wise.
    TigerLMS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Shayne Blank is confessing to a murder. From the outset of this short (167 pages) young adult novel, you know that the new-to-town teenager Shayne is ready to tell detective George Rawls everything. But the cop doesn't immediately believe what he's hearing, and it takes almost all 167 pages for the reader to learn what exactly happened. Told in alternating chapters between Shayne in the police interview room and Mikey, a scrawney-suit wearing high schooler who has yet to hit a growth spurt, the novel tells the brief story of how Mikey was bullied by his sister's drug-dealing boyfriend. Mikey's dad is a recovering alcoholic who used to beat his wife and verbally abuse his children; Shayne says his dad is in the military and in a couple different fights Shayne shows off ninja-like skills that wows Mikey. The plot is straight-forward and Hautman wastes no words in telling the tale that spans only a couple weeks on the calendar. This suspenseful read will especially appeal to reluctant male readers.
    ken1952 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I've enjoyed Pete Hautman novels in the past. But this one just didn't come together for me. I might have read it in too many "pieces".
    mamzel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Shayne Blank walks into the police station and confesses that he committed a murder to Detective George Rawls. In alternating chapters we hear about the murder from Shayne's lips and events from the view of Mike Martin, an undersized, overdressed high school student whose sister, Marie, is dating drug dealer Jon. When police show up at the school with drug sniffing dogs, Jon shoves a bag into Mike's backpack. Suspecting that there may be drugs in the bag, Mike dumps it in a garbage can. Of course, Jon wants his bag back the next day, the garbage has been emptied, and trouble really starts for Mike and consequently for his sister.In rides Shayne on his white horse, er, BMW mortorcycle, to save the day. Like the Lone Ranger he rides in to assist the innocent, punish the guilty and ride away without waiting for thanks. Who was that masked man?A fast read well worth the time.
    ChristianR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A teenager goes to the police station to report that he just killed someone. The story is told bit by bit, some in third person chapters at the police station and other chapters in first person told by Mikey, a high school student. The boy who is confessing, Shayne, is a new student and he and Mikey become friends just as Mikey is targeted by the local drug dealer who claims Mikey owes him $500 after Mikey threw away the drugs planted on him. Turns out Shayne is awesome at martial arts whose modus operandi is to move from school to school, defending victims and teaching a school bully a lesson before disappearing. The reader (along with the police officer) does not find out who, if anyone, is killed until the very end of the book. Shayne was too accomplished at just about everything for me to fully buy into it. However, I can see how the book could reach teen readers who like stories where the good guy wins through smarts, physical superiority, and compassion.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Blank confession takes place in a small town, much like small towns pretty much everyone knows everyone. But the one particular person here, Mikey is involved without hesitation in a bad situation because of a bully named jon who gave him a brown lunch bag filled with with something that would cost him his freedom. Mikey is the main character sense everything that’s bad going on always ends up recashe’s its way back to Mikey. One of the prevalent themes in blank confession is “ I think checkers are like people”. Mikey was a queen, always had someone in front to protect him, until Mikey lost everyone at one point but gained them back and later on, he became a pawn. However in the book Mikey is peer pressured into holding an item for a Jon at a bad time. Because jon had a dope business and as he gave him the bag, Mikey later threw it away because of a school check up that could’ve resulted bad for Mikey. This book also gives a 1st person view of only 3 characters Rawls the interrogator who trying to get a confession from shayne but also getting a story. Mikey the whimpy but smart person ironically makes bad decisions. Shayne is the one who has the tough background but is a sensitive guy guy when comes to a calm moment. Mikey is the main character that starts of wimpy and awkward until he met a new guy named Shayne who really really had an impacts on his impacts on his action and decisions. Shayne is a new guy who meets mikey right away and Shayne and mikey really kick it off to being good friends. Jon is the person being the worst influence on people such as Mikey and his sister Marie. Which is good and bad on Mikey. The way it’s good he doesn’t punk on him more than others. Bad he always comes by when Maries around. Marie is pretty much a follower by emotion, if she’s around jon she’s snotty but around shayne she’s like Mikey says “more like herself ”. Rawls is an interrogator who has currently doing that to shayne for something he’s not saying. This book would be more like breaking bad sense there is a drug conflict in this book that gets edgy. The author did a great job in the mixture of the feeling in the book from each character tells each side of there sto
    MissPrint More than 1 year ago
    Blank Confession (2010) by Pete Hautman Shayne Blank doesn't expect to make friends or even really get to know anyone when he comes to town. Then he walks into the police station to confess to a murder. Shayne's confession is woven with a narrative from the perspectives of Shayne's newest (most well-dressed) friend Mikey and the world weary detective interviewing Shayne. The story here has good writing as well as an intriguing premise. Unfortunately that does not make for a good book in this case. Mikey, who narrates most of the story, is a caricature at best with his pipsqueak persona and suit-wearing style. The phrasing throughout the novel verges on the absurd with motorcycles being referred to as "crotch rockets" at least three times, among other atrocities. Shayne is an under-developed character. Readers learn more about him in the last chapter than they do in the entire rest of the novel. While the idea is sound, and the story is short making it potentially great for reluctant readers, the characters drag this book down. The premise of a high school bully having the capacity to menace an entire town quickly wears thin as do the stunningly flat female character (because yes, there is only one).
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Love this book
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book was great. I liked the way the story unfolded and how the complicated nature of what actually did happen. I think I liked the book so much is because it kept me thinking and how mysterious everything was. Also, as soon as you get into the book it grabbed my attention and holds it throughout the story. Its about Shayne confessing a murder he did and Mikeys story and it everything just keeps on adding up making it very suspenseful. I loved most of the characters and how they all fit in together but Jon is just that mean bully in school. But, my favorite character would have to be Shayne because hes so mysterious and to me is what kept it interesting. Overall, I enjoyed the book very much just because of the way everything turned out and how everything that happened was exciting.    
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I just couldn't put the book down.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    THID BOOK WAS AMAZING !!!!! I read it in two days . I couldnt stop reading from moring to sun down . It catches your intrest .
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I liked the way u almost knew what coming next and right at tgat moment it changes on u to something better or atleast unexpected. I loved it especially the main character if only i met someone like that i wouldnt let him get away.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I like the way the book was written, being told from 2 different point of views in 2 different settings. Characters were good, I thought the main character Mikey was a little odd. Overall nothing that really stuck out to me as amazing but nothing wrong with it either. A good book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love this book very nice
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I thought this book was really good