URBAN RENEWAL by Andrew Vachss


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More criminal adventures for tougher-than-thou hireling Cross and his covey of Chicago assassins (Blackjack, 2012).

“Adventures” may not seem like the best word for an antihero who rarely ventures outside the dank comforts of Red 71, his secure bunker. But it’s appropriate to the episodic nature of his skullduggery this time. In rapid succession, Cross and his crew—Ace, his partner in the Double-X strip club; the deadly Amazon Tiger; man-child Princess and his killer Akita Sweetie; squeaky giant Rhino; Samoan doormen K-1 and K-2; Buddha, Condor and all the rest—do what needs to be done on a dozen different fronts. They dispose of the overly possessive boyfriend of the newest dancer in the Double-X. They deal with an undercover agent in their midst. They discuss plans to snap up houses on a crumbling block and rehab them. They discuss possible double crosses among the rehab financiers and how to deal with them. They take on a job of pest removal in the ranks of a Chicago mobster. They eliminate the weak link from a bunch of street kids they want to use as guards. They provide an unwitting organ donor for a patient whose wife is desperate. And although Cross keeps telling everyone who outlines a job to him that they don’t need to say anything else, they talk and talk, and when they’re done talking, they go out in the Shark Car and kill people: one bullet, one death. As new plots blossom, flit by and flame out, readers may think of a collection of short stories or a comic book without pictures.

Zero at the bone. Just the thing when you want something less good-natured and reflective than Lawrence Block’s tales of Keller the hit man.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8041-6881-6
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2014


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