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Posted December 9, 2008
fabulous testosterone filled historical thriller though Burke-less
In 1959 Locke City is completely owned by Royal Beaumont, wheelchair-bound since childhood. Royal, living up to his first name, uses excess force to rule over his vice-laden kingdom that has made the town a Mecca for tourists looking for illegal prostitution, gambling, and a few more violent activities for the right price. No one dare say no or criticize this dictator although a local militant black movement is growing. --- In the fall, two rival New York mobs discover Locke City; each demands a piece of the action threatening Beaumont. First the Italian mafia tries to push Beaumont around; soon afterward an Irish mob offers Beaumont a deal in which they receive a cut in exchange for tossing out the Italians and crushing the blacks. Beaumont has his own plan taking advantage of the ethnic hatred and distrust by bringing in his own killing machine Walker Dett. However, in the midst of compiling one hit after another by outflanking the Italians, the Irish and the blacks, Walker falls in love. Will a woman soften this hit machine? --- Though Burke-less, TWO TRAINS RUNNING is a fabulous testosterone filled historical thriller that grips the audience once the mobs arrive at Locke City, but especially takes off when Walker starts his destruction. Royal will remind the audience of Broderick Crawford in All the King¿s Men while Dett steals the show as a perfect killer until the intriguing twist of when he meets Tussy; that actually slows down the flow of blood (what can one expect with sex, naps, and showers) yet humanizes him. Andrew Vachss is at his action packed best with this convergence of dark forces in a small town in 1959. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 10, 2005
History and Mystery, Intertwined
I love the Burke books, but when Andrew Vachss decides to step out into new arenas, I am even more entranced. Two Trains Running is set in 1959, when every social faction in America geared up to take control of the 1960 presidential election. Who will win, and what will each group draw the line at how far it will go to win? Vachss sets readers the task of putting together the evidence. This book reads better than any Sherlock Holmes (or CSI) plot, because Vachss gives readers all the information to come to their own conclusion. The story is strongly drawn, and the sense of place is astonishingly three-dimensional. Locke City is a crossroads of low-down activity, disguised as a rundown industrial river town. The characters all have secrets, but we tease those out only by keeping our eyes and ears open, since the omnicient third-person narrative so common to mystery and suspense writing is laid aside here. It's the right choice, as knowing what the characters are thinking would be like adding training wheels to the book. What's important is what the characters say and do, and that information is reported in a series of vignettes that are time-coded like police surveillance. I can't praise this book enough. If you love richness and texture in your reading, snap this novel up. The Burke series made me a Vachss fan, but this book is even more special, like a fine brandy distilled from sumptuous wine.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 6, 2005
Vachss's best yet
Andrew Vachss has always been an important novelist, and with TWO TRAINS RUNNING he becomes a major one. His subject is nothing less than how America came to be what it is today as a result of what happened in the pivotal year of 1959, when his story takes place. As rival gangland factions gather and clash over the future of Locke City, so do other larger, more entrenched and no less corrupt forces clash over the future of the country itself. In the center stands the protagonist, Walker Dett. Dett functions as a passenger on both ¿trains,¿ the express running on the Locke City plotline, and the slower but more powerful engine bearing the country itself to a future formed as we watch. While Vachss¿s portrait is of far more than the city in which the tale is set, so too is his subject far more than crime. He delves deeply into the still unresolved problem of race relations, revealing the roots of black anger and burgeoning black pride. He examines the genesis of gang violence and the motivations that draw the young and rootless into that particular hell. And he takes a hard look at government intrusion into all aspects of society, and how the investigation of corruption can lead to the corruption of the investigator. What makes Vachss¿s story even more journalistic is its style. The book is constructed of a series of scenes presented chronologically with the date and time at the start of each. Never does he reveal the thoughts of any character, even his protagonist. He ¿merely¿ reports. With such a seemingly cold and clinical way of relating events, it¿s surprising how much warmth and compassion come through in the human story. The book is filled with well-drawn characters rich in moral ambiguity. Vachss weaves all their stories together seamlessly, and even engages in some fascinating speculation in the process. TWO TRAINS RUNNING works brilliantly on all of its many levels, and is one of those books that repays rereading. It¿s a new American classic ¿ an intriguing story well-told, and a deeper rumination on how we got to where we are todayWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 10, 2009
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