Synopses & Reviews
Electrifying, compelling, and ultimately terrifying, Two Trains Running
is a galvanizing evocation of that moment in our history when the violent forces that would determine America's future were just beginning to roil below the surface.
Once a devastated mill town, by 1959 Locke City has established itself as a thriving center of vice tourism. The city is controlled by boss Royal Beaumont, who took it by force many years ago and has held it against all comers since.
Now his domain is being threatened by an invading crime syndicate. But in a town where crime and politics are virtually indivisible, there are other players awaiting their turn onstage. Emmett Till's lynching has inflamed a nascent black revolutionary movement. A neo-Nazi organization is preparing for race war. Juvenile gangs are locked in a death struggle over useless pieces of "turf." And some shadowy group is supplying them all with weapons. With an IRA unit and a Mafia family also vying for local supremacy, it's no surprise that the whole town is under FBI surveillance. But that agency is being watched, too.
Beaumont ups the ante by importing a hired killer, Walker Dett, a master tactician whose trademark is wholesale destruction. But there are a number of wild cards in this game, including Jimmy Procter, an investigative reporter whose tools include stealth, favor-trading, and blackmail, and Sherman Layne, the one clean Locke City cop, whose informants range from an obsessed "watcher" who patrols the edge of the forest, where cars park for only one reason, to the madam of the county's most expensive bordello. But Layne is guarding a secret of his own, one that could destroy more than his career. Even the most innocent are drawn into the ultimate-stakes game like Tussy Chambers, the beautiful waitress whose mystically deep connection with Walker Dett might inadvertently ignite the whole combustible mix.
In a stunning departure from his usual territory, Andrew Vachss gives us a masterful novel that is also an epic story of postwar America. Not since Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest has there been as searing a portrait of corruption in a small town. This is Vachss's most ambitious, innovative, and explosive work yet.
"Vachss's latest, set in 1959, leaves recurring character Burke behind to explore the teeming, clannish, race-driven underside of American politics. The Southern town of Locke City, at the mountainous foot of the rust belt, has become the vice-driven fief of one Royal Beaumont, a wheelchair-bound 'hillbilly' who indulges in casual incest and rules the town by force. When the New York mafia tries to cut in on the action, Beaumont fights back, determined to protect his stake and the town's racial composition, especially with a stealthy local black militant cell gaining in strength. Michael Shalare's Irish mob arrives and proposes a truce on the grounds that once 'our man' Kennedy gets in, the Italians will be 'told' to leave, and racial as well as monetary order will be preserved. The book is broken by episodic bursts of dialogue with time-stamp headings ('1959 October 04 Sunday 20:46'); the dialogue itself doesn't feel differentiated enough from tough guy to tough guy, and smacks of faux periodisms. Some of what Greil Marcus called the 'old, weird America' surfaces, but any scene with a woman in it yields awkward results. The pace is good and the plot is riveting, though the telescoped sociopolitics feel rigged from the start, as does a bloody climax." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"It's slow...and so dialogue-heavy it's like James Ellroy by way of Studs Terkel. Hard to say whether fans of Vachss' brutal Burke series will follow him back into the past." Booklist
"Vachss plows a field famously sowed by Dashiell Hammett and reaps his own kind of red harvest....Dark, violent, blood-drenched, page-turning." Kirkus Reviews
"The voice of Vachss: uncompromising, exciting, and fiercely original." George Pelecanos, author of Hard Revolution
In a thrilling departure, Vachss, the creator of the Burke novels, takes readers back to 1959 in this masterful crime novel that is also an epic story of postwar America.
About the Author
Andrew Vachss is the author of many novels and of two collections of short stories. He has written for Parade, Antaeus, Esquire, Playboy, and the New York Times, among other publications. He divides his time between New York City and the Pacific Northwest.