Readers used to novels featuring Vachss's continuing character Burke will find this book a true change of pace. Vachss alters his literary voice completely in his creation of Eddie, a professional getaway driver. Eddie is as far from Burke as can be imagined, an innocent in a world of corruption, a man who is a criminal mainly because his talents are best suited for that particular job. He is a driver who lives to drive, and spends his evenings watching old movies that he likes to think parallel his own life (like Thunder Road and Moonshine Highway). Loyal and honorable, realistic but trusting, Eddie seems a sweet child in an evil man's world until, as in the classic plots of James M. Cain, a woman makes him reexamine his priorities and loyalties. To say more would give away too much of the plot, but Vachss never takes a wrong turn on Eddie's drive away from innocence.
The tight prose and simple style suit the subject perfectly. Eddie isn't nearly as eloquent with language as Burke, and there are frequent grammatical errors in this first-person narrative which only add to the richly drawn portrait. Nor is Eddie as outwardly intense as Burke. There's no crusader in these pages, only a guy trying to make a living doing what he loves to do, and trying to deal with the temptations and moral dilemmas that go with the job. The sense of the 1950s predominates, although there are frequent references to contemporary technology.
The book is short, less than 200 pages, and they fly effortlessly by, with Vachss's trademark style of using simple breaks rather than the artificiality of chapter heads. The trade paperback package is totally simpatico with the novel's spirit, displaying stylish 50's cover artwork and logo, and even creases printed on the covers, to give that stuck-in-the-back-pocket paperback feel (you'll have to break the spine yourself). It's a terrific book that ends with a perfectly measured body blow to the gut, and those who appreciate crime fiction at its best would be fools to miss it.