From Publishers Weekly
This slim retro-look paperback by crime master Vachss (Only Child; Pain Management) delivers the guilty pleasure of a dime novel, which means that although it is a few writerly steps up from a Dick Tracy comic, the emphasis is on action. Characterization is handled with a few deft strokes. As usual, Vachss, a lawyer who represents children and once directed a maximum-security prison for violent youth, suffuses his story with compassion for children and a razor-sharp outrage at their abusers. Here, Vachss takes us inside the mind of Eddie, a young man who has survived a string of incarcerations with his innocence seemingly intact. Dismissed as an idiot by a few seedy characters, he is prized for his loyalty and his unsurpassed ability behind the wheel by the big-time heist artist J.C. When he isn't customizing vehicles for the biggest heist of J.C.'s career, Eddie is happily ensconced in the barn behind J.C.'s cabin hideaway, watching videos that feature getaway driving. Enter J.C.'s girlfriend, Vonda, who just can't leave Eddie alone. Taking advantage of J.C.'s frequent overnight trips to work out the details of the big job in the offing, Vonda gets cozy with Eddie, confiding details of her abusive relationship with J.C. She becomes Eddie's secret girlfriend and inspires him to new heights of daring as a getaway driver. The surprise ending is so abrupt that it will cause most readers to jam on the brakes and wonder where the road went, but it's smooth sailing right up to the edge of the cliff.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Vachss takes a break from his popular Burke series to type a tribute to the Gold Medal pulp paperbacks of the 1950s and 1960s. Though it's a present-day noir like the Burke books, it's lighter in tone and steers clear of their dark subject matter. Eddie, the narrator, is a quiet, not-too-bright loner who loves to drive cars. Joyriding and a few stints in juvenile prisons lead him to hard time and hardened thugs who see potential in his single-minded loyalty--when Eddie's out front in the car, he waits until his partners come out, whether the cops are coming or not. After a few different gangs and adventures, he finds himself partnered with a tough ex-con planning the ultimate noir cliche: one last big score so they can all retire. This novel has all the standards, including stand-up guys, manipulative dames, double-crossing partners, and an aura of predestined failure that hangs over the proceedings like cigarette smoke in a waterfront bar. But Vachss gives it a nice twist by telling the tale from the point of view of the dim guy instead of the sharpster with all the angles. Except for a few slip-ups where Eddie uses too-nice wording ("a spring rain was slanting down"), or is almost too clueless to believe (he's never rented a video), it works. This should be a pleasant detour for both Vachss followers and fans of the genre. Keir GraffCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved