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Citizen Vince Hardcover – 11 Apr 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (11 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340819944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340819944
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 24.2 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,506,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Splendidly entertaining, thoughtful (Sunday Telegraph)

A tasty novel. Funny, sad, mad, scary ... I liked it a lot. (Independent on Sunday)

Refreshing ... entertaining ... [with] wry precision and expert timing (New York Times)

It's been a long time since I've read a book as compulsively, indeed greedily, as I read CITIZEN VINCE. Here are characters who seem to live of their own volition, who talk out of a terrible inner need to make themselves known and understood, who reveal not just themselves but the yearning heart of our great flawed democracy. (Richard Russo, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of EM)

A nerve-tingling narrative (Manchester City Life)

Dazzling ... wry dialogue ... agile prose ... and a finely tuned plot. (Seattle Times)

Utterly inventive ... excruciatingly breathless (Washington Post Book World)

Admirably unpredictable ... always engrossing. Walter's best by far. (Kirkus Reviews)

Citizen Vince is fresh and different - a gritty story of betrayal, and an extended riff on life, death and politics. Walter is a literary talent writ large. (Boston Globe)

This tale of unlikely redemption works because of Walter's virtuoso command of character and dialogue - along with a wicked second-act twist (Booklist)

Intelligently written, bittersweet and thoroughly absorbing. (Seattle Times, on OVER TUMBLED GRAVES)

Jess Walter has just about lapped the field with his superior first novel OVER TUMBLED GRAVES. The suspense and surprises are terrific, but best of all are the characters he has managed to create. (James Patterson on OVER TUMBLED GRAVES)

Walter renders his blind land with a clear-eyed, compassionate vision. (Kirkus Reviews, on LAND OF THE BLIND)

A most accomplished debut. (Sunday Telegraph, on OVER TUMBLED GRAVES)

Book Description

The totally absorbing and evocative new thriller from the writer of OVER TUMBLED GRAVES and LAND OF THE BLIND.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Redemption is one of the big themes in fiction and narrative film. Alas, the sheer pervasiveness of redemption stories means that they really have to sparkle to stand out. Here, Walter flirts with greatness but never quite achieves it with a semi-crime story set in the days leading up to the 1980 presidential election. Vince Camden is a donut-maker in Spokane, Washington, living a fairly quiet routine of work, sleep, and late nights of cards at Sam's Pit -- a place kind of like Cheers, but with cops, crooks, and hookers as patrons. (This was a real place at 528 E. 2nd St. that shut down in the early '90s after several police raids.) The reader quickly learns that Vince is in the FBI's witness-protection program, having given evidence in a small-time New York mob case after getting stuck with a loan he couldn't repay to people that really don't like it when you don't repay loans. In addition to his donut gig, Vince is building up a little nest egg by running the same credit card number scam he ran in New York and dealing a little pot. He's even got a little romantic interest, with a crush on legal secretary who comes in for donuts every day, plus the hooker with a heart of gold he met at Sam's Pit. With his new identity, he's even eligible to vote for the first time, a symbol of his "rebirth" that becomes a totem of his new life.
However, as in all the great noir films, the past comes a-knockin'. First, his partners in the credit card scam start getting all squirrelly on him, and then a face from "the world' shows up. "The World" is, of course, the East Coast mob scene he ran away from. And like all good heroes from Mythology 101, Vince realizes he must journey to the underworld to face his demons in order to actualize his redemption.
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Format: Paperback
Once in a while you read something that makes you realize why you enjoy reading in the first place. I am an avid reader and book reviewer and at a conservative estimate I have read over a thousand books. When I say that investigative journalist and author Jess Walter's `Citizen Vince' is one of the top five books I have ever read I am not succumbing to unjustified hyperbole. I went into this one feeling a little jaded to be honest. Well, in a very short time indifference gave way to fascination and guilty enjoyment.

The novel concerns one Vince Camden, a nondescript thirty six year old donut maker in Spokane. There seems nothing at all remarkable or interesting about him until you learn his real name is Marty Hagen, a criminal since his teens and originally from New Jersey. He has been given a new identity by the Witness Protection Program. Since testifying against the mob his rights have been restored including his right to vote: something `Citizen Vince' has never done before. Voting in the coming 1980 Presidential election suddenly becomes the most important thing in his life - a symbol of redemption that even someone with his background can change.

But as with all things in real life your past can have an unpleasant way of revisiting you and Vince's arrives in the shape of a very nasty hit man. With just three days to go to Election Day Vince must avoid crooks, cops and a demented and determined killer as he tries to save not only himself but also his dreams that include Beth, a waif he is involved with and a simple life that he secretly covets.

This could easily have become a shamelessly corny flag waver with a Capraesque feel permeating proceedings. It could also have fallen into `Mean Streets' and `Goodfellas' territory by being too violent and too gritty.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I started reading this book and after the first dozen pages believed it was not for me. However, I persisted and was glad I did.Vince, a former mobster, became with each page a more and more likeable character. By the end, I sincerely wished him well. There are plenty of plot twists along the way to make it an engaging read.
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By Philip Mayo VINE VOICE on 10 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book. A good yarn and well written in an interesting style. Not a formulaic thriller but no windows opened on the human condition / dilemma either. But I will certainly try another of his books. A little on the style of James Ellroy although not quite as staccato-like.
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