Andrew Vachss, the master of hard-boiled fiction, returns with a deeply revealing new novel about an assassin whose love forced him to kill his own conscience.
Esau Till’s race is almost run. After pleading guilty to a series of homicides, he sits on death row, awaiting lethal injection. And writing his life story. But his memoir is no case study in tragedy—it’s his one last chance to protect his brother, Tory, after he’s gone. And, as too many have learned, when it comes to protecting his baby brother, Esau Till is a man without boundaries.
Esau’s father was a widely feared beast who, it was commonly believed, killed his wife and used his own daughter as a substitute. In Esau’s own words, when your sister is your mother, too, you know you’re not going to come out right. Not you, not your life, not nothing.
When the genetic cards were dealt, Esau drew a genius IQ but a horribly crippled body. His brother Tory drew a “slow” mind but almost superhuman strength. Very early on, Esau learned that the only way to guarantee his baby brother’s safety was to make himself indispensable to certain people. A self-taught explosives expert, he became the top assassin for two rival local mobs. When a third mob attempted to recruit his brother, Esau took them all out, unaware that one of them was an under-cover FBI agent.
Execution looms, but no prison can hold Esau’s mind. Or his love. As the State prepares to take his life, Esau plots going all-in on the last and most deadly hand he will ever play.
One can count on Vachss being grim whether writing one of his Burke novels (Another Life, etc.) or a stand-alone like The Weight, but this first-person story, which narrator Esau Till makes clear is neither apology nor confession, is grimmer than most. From death row, Esau, who s crippled by spina bifida, recounts a horrific childhood of parental abuse. He finds purpose in protecting his strapping little brother, Tory-boy, whose only defect is being a little slow. Esau later becomes a bomb maker and assassin, carving out a precariously balanced life plying his deadly trade for both of the two crime bosses who share his unnamed community. When the authorities finally catch up with him, Esau continues to plan to protect Tory-boy whether Esau is dead or alive by cleverly playing both sides of the law. Crafty, strong-willed Esau combines courtly manners, deadly paybacks, and ruthless singularity of purpose in this chilling tour de force.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Slow and not nearly as smart as it try's to be.
A waste of time. I have read every book Andrew Vachss has written, and don't know if I will bother after this one.