The Getaway Man Paperback – Feb 4 2003
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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 Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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 ...Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on Dec 8 2003 by Untouchable
Fan of tough-guy, noir-esque fiction? Enjoy the bleak, cynical tough-guys popularized by Chandler, Thompson and Willeford? Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2003 by D. Ross
His best since Shella. The Burke books were getting to be repetitive and Vachss a paraody of himself. Read morePublished on Oct. 1 2003 by Ann M Eadie
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 morePublished on Sept. 29 2003 by S. Harris
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 morePublished on Sept. 9 2003 by Kindle Customer
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 morePublished on Aug. 14 2003 by Oliver Towne
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 morePublished on June 21 2003 by Richard B. Schwartz
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 morePublished on June 21 2003
Perfect control of language, seamlessly written, Vachss makes no mistakes here. It's like reading James Cain again, only better. Classic noir lives! Read morePublished on May 24 2003 by Dan Allison