The latest effort in the impressive body of work from Andrew
Vachss, THE GETAWAY MAN, tells the story of Eddie, a character
whose outwardly simple nature masks a complex psychology that
reveals itself in the subtext of this carefully crafted
Eddie is determined to fulfill his dream of becoming a getaway
driver. That is the extent of his ambition. Eddie is not in the
game for easy money or for the thrills --- he just wants to drive.
He is a simple and likeable character, whose dedication to his
craft and loyalty to those who hire him for his abilities is
admirable, if misguided. But that's a good deal of what makes Eddie
so fascinating. He takes to the outlaw's life in a manner so
unassuming and natural that it's as if "Life of Crime" was a booth
he visited on Career Day in high school. For Eddie, a straight life
was never a consideration --- it wasn't even on the radar.
Despite his chosen profession, there isn't the slightest hint of
menace in Eddie. This sets him apart from Burke, the main character
in several of Vachss's previous books. Burke is a bad guy, an
anti-hero whose moral matrix occasionally syncs-up with the law.
Burke oozes a streetwise menace that is as impressive as it is
frightening. Eddie, on the other hand, is as threatening as a
cocker spaniel, yet he and Burke follow a similar moral code. But
where Burke survives on projecting this menace and on the judicious
delivery of the violence it presages, Eddie gets by on a keen
ability to read people and tell them what they want to hear. Yet,
there's nothing insincere about Eddie. He's not manipulative; he's
desperate for approval. There's a childlike quality about this need
that hints at some hidden tragedy. This is something that Eddie and
Burke share: a dark and troubled psyche that is implied rather than
revealed. Vachss trusts his readers to look not just at the
characters in the spotlight, but also at the shadows they cast.
It's there where Eddie takes shape, where his form is filled in and
it's there that Eddie gets into your head.
Eddie's story is told in first person, in a narrative that
describes his evolution from misguided teen to career criminal. The
story is a remarkable distillation of detail and action into a form
so crisp and concise that reading it is a bit like pouring water
onto a dried sponge --- it expands before your eyes. In the end,
you're astonished that a story so rich was contained in so small a
Reviewed by Bob Rhubart on January 22, 2011
The Getaway Man