Audiobook Review: The Getaway Man by Andrew Vachss

23 02 2012

The Getaway Man by Andrew Vachss

Read by Phil Gigante

Brilliance Audio

Length: 4 Hrs 39 Min

Genre: Crime Fiction

Quick Thoughts: The Getaway Man is a vintage crime tale for those who like their rebels without a cause and often, even a clue. It’s a lean, taunt thriller with gut punch twists and a wonderful main character. Fans of Andrews Vachss’ writing will find The Getaway Man to be a breath of fresh air, and those new to his work can experience his style and themes without some of the darker elements.

Grade: B+

There something nice about revisiting a favorite author. There is a comfort to it, like wearing that favorite pair of Jeans or settling down into your favorite chair that fits you just right. With a favorite author, on some level, you know what to expect, stylistically, and thematically. Oh, they may surprise you, throw you for a loop, but more often then not, you know what type of story is right for you at that moment and you know just what author may fit you mood. It’s tough to use the word comfortable when discussing taking on a novel written by Andrew Vachss. His stories are often about shining a light onto the darkness of humanity. His characters are never simple, even if they may seem that way on the surface. With Vachss, you rarely find a good guy in the mix. Often times, a single shade of grey may separate the protagonist from the antagonist of a given tale. Yet, I know when I am in a mood for a Vachss novel. I know when I am open to exploring the darker sides of our species. When I take on a Vachss novel, I know that the person I will be rooting for is quite possibly a person who may view me with disdain if we ever met. So, when I am in the right state of my, I never hesitate to grab one of Vachss novels. While he rarely disappoints, often he manages to surprise me.

The Getaway Man is a novel about driving, not about cars. It centers on a young man named Eddie, who as a teenager, would steal cars just to drive. Eddie is a fascinating character. He’s what most people would call slow, not much of a reader and awkward in social situations. Yet, he has a talent for driving and a penchant for loyalty that is noticed by more hard core criminals, and earns him a level of respect. Vachss doesn’t do much to explore what lead Eddie to this path, but in some ways just speculating about Eddie’s development added to the story. Eddie is similar to many of Vachss characters in that while he lives on the edges of society, he has his own rigid moral code that he clings to. Yet, unlike many of Vachss characters, you actually grow to like Eddie, and sometimes forget that at his core, he is a criminal. Yet, Vachss never tries to justify his behavior, or present it as anything more than what it is. It is up to the reader to decide on the nobility of his actions and mindset. The Getaway Man has an old time, outlaw loner movie feel to it. There is the loner, who in reality is searching for a place to fit in. There is a femme fatale that you fear is leading our malleable outcast down a dangerous path. There are devious plans, and daring heists, and a wonderful ending that leaves you breathless. And there is driving. The Getaway Man is a vintage crime tale for those who like their rebels without a cause and often, even a clue. It’s a lean, taunt thriller with gut punch twists and a wonderful main character. Fans of Andrews Vachss’ writing will find The Getaway Man to be a breath of fresh air, and those new to his work can experience his style and themes without some of the darker elements.

Phil Gigante goes soft and slow for his reading of The Getaway Man bringing to the surface Eddie’s youthful naivety, while still capturing his hidden depths. His soft southern drawl captures Eddie perfectly, and works as a anchor for Eddie’s character. Gigante balances this out with fully vocalized peripheral characters, from an unstable socialite to a hardcore, cold hearted criminal mastermind. I love how both Vachss and Gigante gives this book a vintage feel. Despite the modern setting, there is almost a timeless quality to the production. The Getaway Man is a short listen, coming in at under 5 hours, but Vachss’ lean style and Gigante’s crisp narration packs a lot into its punch.

Note: A special thanks to those good people at Brilliance Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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