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The Getaway Man [Paperback]

Andrew Vachss
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 4 2003 Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original
Eddie starts stealing cars long before he's old enough to get a license, driven by a force so compelling that he never questions, just obeys. After a series of false starts, interrupted by stays in juvenile institutions and a state prison term, Eddie's skills and loyalty attract the attention of J.C., a near-legendary hijacker. When he gets out, Eddie becomes the driver for J.C.'s ultra-professional crew. J.C., the master planner, is finally ready to pull off that one huge job every con dreams of ... the Retirement Score. But some roads have twists even a professional getaway man couldn't foresee ...

Andrew Vachss, a writer widely acclaimed for breathing new life and death into the crime genre, here presents a classic noir tale, relentlessly displaying and dissecting not guilt, but innocence.

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Product Description

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.

From Booklist

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 Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Book! May 24 2003
By Davita
Mr. Vachss has said that "The Getaway Man" is a story about innocence. When you read, you'll understand that he doesn't equate innocence with stupidity, or even naivete. Eddie, the main character, is someone who functions without ulterior motives or a hidden agenda. His desires tend to be as straightforward as his sentences. Even his need to drive isn't motivated by financial gain or bravado, but by his need to stop "waiting for someone else to decide what was going to come next in my life." He is also highly observant and seems especially aware of his own effect on the people around him - likely, it's what has helped him survive thus far. But he can't defend himself against slings and arrows that he never sees coming, and this will be the biggest adjustment for anyone already familiar with the hypervigilant Burke from Mr. Vachss' well-known book series (Eddie wants control, Burke TAKES it).
Even more compelling than the examination of innocence are the varied reactions to it: with few exceptions, they are overwhelmingly negative. Eddie is belittled, used, manipulated, threatened physically, all with no provocation on his part. His presence alone is enough to bring bullies and predators out of the woodwork (most notably the toxic Vonda, who perhaps shared Eddie's innocence at one point). It's this and Eddie's recurring dream - or premonition?? - that forecast the unhappy outcome.
This book has been described as a departure for Mr. Vachss, but that doesn't seem accurate. It seems more like a much-earlier chapter of his continuing story: the exploration of an uncorrupted soul and what happens when the world gets ahold of it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding "Non-Burke" Retro Journey .... April 16 2003
By Reader
Probably best known for his "Burke" series (FLOOD, STREGA, PAIN MANAGEMENT, ONLY CHILD, et al.) Andrew Vachss' newest book, THE GETAWAY MAN is vividly reminiscent of the fast-paced, tensely-plotted thrillers offered up by such publishers as Gold Medal, Lion, and Popular Library during the 1940s and 1950s ... authors such as David Goodis, Charles Williams, Harry Whittington, William Campbell Gault, Paul Cain, Jim Thompson, Robert Edmond Alter, and Bruno Fisher come to mind.
THE GETAWAY MAN tells a deceptively simple tale of Eddie, a young man on the cusp of adulthood whose one goal in life is to become a first-class driver of "getaway" cars. The simplicity of Eddie's goal belies the depth of the person he is. Though limited in education and experience it would be a mistake to think of Eddie as merely simple-minded or dim ... he is very capable, quite perceptive, and remarkably focused ... his innocence, his courage, and his honor are paramount. Eddie's voice, in a streamlined, first-person narrative, takes the reader on a journey through time spent in a juvenile institution for Grand Theft Auto, to his "apprenticeship" with several criminal crews, and ultimately arrives at a violent and startling climax.
Mr. Vachss' "first" profession as an attorney representing youth, his training as a federal investigator, as well as a stint running a maximum security facility for violent juvenile offenders stand him in good stead as he "fleshes out" Eddie's story with a number of vignettes which might appear, at first glance, to perhaps be peripheral to the main action. These vignettes (one of which involves the abuse of a female child) are far from being tangential or irrelevant ...
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3.0 out of 5 stars Vachss gets away with it March 26 2003
I bought this book thinking that it was a vintage crime book, not a new Vintage crime book. The updated, irritating photo of Andrew Vachss with the eyepatch on the backcover should have helped me figure out that this is a new book. The Getaway Man is Vachss' take on the classic story of a young hood with a lot of character climbing the criminal ranks. I love the cover. It's brilliant, harkening back to the '40s and '50s, when these novels were at their peak.
Vachss tries to imitate the feel of the genre, but has written a book without soul. Those books are charming because they were written that way instinctively; Vachss plays copycat. I admire that Vachss has placed his timeless character in the modern age instead of setting this as a period piece, but in doing so he falls short. His naive getaway man, though having spent many years of his life in jail, is unconvincing. His character has never used a VCR or rented a tape. All he knows are cars and driving. Come on.
Still, I enjoyed this short read, which you can finish in a week of commuting. But it ain't Raymond Chandler. Then again, nothing is.
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The latest effort in the impressive body of work from Andrew Vachss, THE GETAWAY MAN, tells the story of Eddie, a character whose outwardly simple nature masks a complex psychology that reveals itself in the subtext of this carefully crafted story.
Eddie is determined to fulfill his dream of becoming a getaway driver. That is the extent of his ambition. Eddie is not in the game for easy money or for the thrills --- he just wants to drive. He is a simple and likeable character, whose dedication to his craft and loyalty to those who hire him for his abilities is admirable, if misguided. But that's a good deal of what makes Eddie so fascinating. He takes to the outlaw's life in a manner so unassuming and natural that it's as if "Life of Crime" was a booth he visited on Career Day in high school. For Eddie, a straight life was never a consideration --- it wasn't even on the radar.
Despite his chosen profession, there isn't the slightest hint of menace in Eddie. This sets him apart from Burke, the main character in several of Vachss's previous books. Burke is a bad guy, an anti-hero whose moral matrix occasionally syncs-up with the law. Burke oozes a streetwise menace that is as impressive as it is frightening. Eddie, on the other hand, is as threatening as a cocker spaniel, yet he and Burke follow a similar moral code. But where Burke survives on projecting this menace and on the judicious delivery of the violence it presages, Eddie gets by on a keen ability to read people and tell them what they want to hear. Yet, there's nothing insincere about Eddie. He's not manipulative; he's desperate for approval. There's a childlike quality about this need that hints at some hidden tragedy. This is something that Eddie and Burke share: a dark and troubled psyche that is implied rather than revealed.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Far From A One-Tracked Story
From a very early age Eddie only ever had one dream and that was to be a driver. This is the story of how he realised that dream and how he came to earn the respect of his peers,... Read more
Published on Dec 8 2003 by Untouchable
5.0 out of 5 stars Jim Thompson would be proud
Fan of tough-guy, noir-esque fiction? Enjoy the bleak, cynical tough-guys popularized by Chandler, Thompson and Willeford? Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2003 by D. Ross
4.0 out of 5 stars Vachss Returns with a Good One!
His best since Shella. The Burke books were getting to be repetitive and Vachss a paraody of himself. Read more
Published on Oct. 1 2003 by Ann M Eadie
5.0 out of 5 stars a dark gem
Up until now, I've not been a Vachss fan, since I have usually found his Burke novels to be too over-the-top. But after reading The Getaway Man, I may have to reconsider. Read more
Published on Sept. 29 2003 by S. Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars It doesnt disappoint
I loved this book. Most books I figure out the ending to, and I don't like that. If you don't want something predictable, you want to read this book. Read more
Published on Sept. 9 2003 by TwisttedShe
5.0 out of 5 stars Man, This Thing Sticks In Your Head
At first I thought it was just a good guy against bad guy thing. And it is. But then I saw it was much deeper. It's kinda like those Bible stories. Like remember Adam and Eve? Read more
Published on Aug. 14 2003 by Oliver Towne
5.0 out of 5 stars Let's hope this starts a trend
The reason this book appears to be so retro is that most of the current crime writers are trying to follow the editorial rules and transcend the genre. Read more
Published on June 21 2003 by Richard B. Schwartz
5.0 out of 5 stars Great old-fashioned storytelling!
This book is an obvious homage to the Gold Medal books of the 50's and a welcome return for those of us who yearn for those well-crafted tales of crime and criminals. Read more
Published on June 21 2003 by "jdny"
5.0 out of 5 stars James Cain Lives!
Perfect control of language, seamlessly written, Vachss makes no mistakes here. It's like reading James Cain again, only better. Classic noir lives! Read more
Published on May 24 2003 by Dan Allison
4.0 out of 5 stars Take me back
A good old fashioned style scores big. This is a good one. Nobody's good and some are real bad. The author plays his cards close, and holds to the last page.
Published on May 16 2003 by John Bowes
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