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Two Trains Running (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – 6 Jun 2006

2.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 447 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc; Reprint edition (6 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400079381
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400079384
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,865,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa2444558) out of 5 stars 43 reviews
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa33d821c) out of 5 stars A new & successful direction for Vachss 14 Jun. 2005
By C. Williamson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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 today
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2e4adbc) out of 5 stars fabulous testosterone filled historical thriller 14 Jun. 2005
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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 Klausner
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2e4ced0) out of 5 stars Dense & dark noir novel 24 Jun. 2005
By Winchester - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Vachss has semlessly woven together FBI corruption, the Mafia, politics, small town corruption, redemtion, the JFK/Nixon election, drugs, gangs both black & white, porn, the Tuskeggee experiment, race relations, mysticism, love & hate, Emmitt Tell,the Irish political machine, human nature both good & bad into his densist novel ever. Set in the border town of Locke City in 1959, all the above issues, and more, twist & turn, simmer and finally boil over. The many plot threads become a little hard to follow, but are worth the effort. The main character, Walker Dett, is in some respects the scariest of Vachss creations, a remorseless killer on a mission of his own, but not of his own making. My only complaints are the absence of Jimmy Proctor for most of the novel, this character just dissapears for the middle 85% of the book; and I must agree with another reviewer, the interplay between the sexes seems strained, but then all of these characters are damaged so that is not surpising. We will be seeing Walker Dett again. Dallas, Tx. Nov. 1963.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2e4cfd8) out of 5 stars Very Visual Novel 19 July 2005
By Sharon Katz - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The time is 1959 and the setting is the dirty underbelly of a town, Locke City. It's not a big place, but it has grown in leaps and bounds to be one of the vice capitals of the country. Royal Beaumont is the wheelchair bound head of the crime "family" made up of men he trusts and grew up with. But the times are changing and the Italian syndicate and other criminal groups are trying to edge in and take over. So Beaumont calls in an outside killer, in the person of Walker Dett, a cold blooded, intelligent professional to take care of some business for him.

But what Beaumont doesn't know is that changes are brewing and boiling up all over: the civil rights movement is taking off and becoming radical in the poorer black section of town, a group of Irish Catholic men are planning that the country must soon have a new kind of president, a man "like them," there is an Aryan white power group making hidden and undercover plans of their own, and a few members of the FBI who have the idea that it's time for independent thinking, are selling weapons to the more violent gangs in order to make a case against them. Into this pressure cooker is thrown a cop and a newspaperman. The result is violent in the extreme.

TWO TRAINS RUNNING almost takes place in real time, with chapters dated and time stamped to show that we are getting a glimpse of action that's taking place at the same moment all over town. There's no one lead protagonist, but more of a large cast of characters. The novel is closer to a fast cut movie than a book, with dialogue taking up a large percentage of the pages. The author, Andrew Vachss, takes a lot of time detailing each and every character's description, from the color and type of boot on their feet to the two buttons opened at a neckline. The minutia of details makes TWO TRAINS RUNNING very visual, again underlining the idea that this is more like a movie than a written story.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Gary Griffiths - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
OK, so maybe I've just crawled out from under a rock, but I'd never heard of Andrew Vachss. And then I started reading Ken Bruen's bare-knuckled crime fiction, and kept running across Bruen's frequent and reverent references to Vachss. I figured it was time to find out what was impressing the venerable Bruen so much.

I find myself agreeing with Bruen's superlatives. "Two Trains Running" is a remarkable novel that can be enjoyed on several different levels. On the surface, it is a kick-butt pulp crime fiction, a hardboiled and tight-lipped gem reminiscent of Jim Thompson or Raymond Chandler. A level deeper, you've got an authentic slice of late-Eisenhower America that includes the racial tension, gangs, drugs, and corruption not often depicted in the old "Happy Days" nostalgia typically associated with this era that was setting up the mayhem for the turbulent 60s. And then, running through it all is a near supernatural undercurrent that can only be described as weirdness - a surreal tone that reminds one of the brutal and bizarre "Sin City", Frank Miller's comic book nightmare brought to garish life on the big screen.

The story unfolds in Locke City, and decaying mid-America mill town run by wheelchair-bound boss Royal Beaumont and his unmarried sister Cynthia. Unlike most pulp fiction which it mimics - or perhaps parodies - Vachss' "Two Trains" is epic in scope - long and convoluted, with multiple subplots and even more messages to sort through and ponder. Beaumont brings to town Walker Dett, an enigmatic hit man hired to thwart encroachment by an emerging Mafioso. It is soon clear that Dett is not what he seems, but what he is is an entirely different matter. And if you're like me, he will having you guessing right up to the last bloody page.

A couple of words of caution: this is a long and complex novel that should not be read casually or sporatically. Vachss paints this masterpiece with lots of parallel stories and a rich set of characters, told in a staccato shorthand that may have you scratching your head and thumbing back through pages to pick up the thread. It is beautifully blunt and as far from politically correct as you can get, so the more sensitive readers may be offended by frequent use of racial slurs blatant bigotry. But in the end this is a brilliant example of crime fiction smashed together with cutting social commentary, a vivid and intelligent story that will not easily be forgotten. Bravo, Mr. Vachss.
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