A Brooklyn junkyard is the center of this first novel’s hopeless universe of dully endangered crooks.
Fat Tommy Rosselli, a.k.a. Tommy Bagadonuts, is the alleged brains behind the Troutman Street operation, part salvage-yard, part chop-shop. Stoney, his partner, is an alcoholic whose grip on reality is no tighter than his hold on his family. Their employees range from yard boss Walter to used-truck chassis buyer Jimmy the Hat to Eddie Tuco, a “Nuyorican” gofer, 18, whose refusal to join his cousin Miguel’s gang has already marked him as somebody who goes his own way. After a menacing curtain-raiser in which Tuco discovers two dead teenagers when he comes in to work, Green settles down to a leisurely, yet somehow still menacing, round of anecdotes about Stoney, Tommy, and their colleagues in the salvage business. But he takes a special interest in Tuco, because although the kid is low man on the junkyard’s totem pole, he’s the only one who’s going anywhere, even as far as the nameless prostitute down the street. Just as the hooker is looking forward only as far as her next fix of “Dr. Jack,” the drug that’s given her seller-pimp the same reputation as famed suicide enabler Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Stoney and Tommy seem to have nothing better to do than mark time and hire futile protectors as whoever killed those two kids and executed junkyard accountant Marty Cohen closes in on them. The setup screams thriller, but Green throws away one sharp, threatening incident after another—and eventually his whole plot—because he’s after something more subtly disturbing: a group portrait of despair so deep that getting killed just doesn’t seem like that much of a risk.
An indelibly etched mood piece for readers who don’t insist that every action needs to provoke an equal and opposite reaction.