Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Books: That's How I Roll by Andrew Vachss

That's How I Roll: A NovelThat's How I Roll: A Novel by Andrew Vachss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Esau Till is writing his memoir from prison - death row as a matter of fact. But he is a man with a plan, the state may take his life, but he will do anything within his power to make sure that his developmentally disabled brother Tory-Boy is taken care of after he is gone. The story is told in non-sequential order, with Esau in prison, finally caught as one of the premiere contract killers of his location. When one of his bombs kills a federal agent, they track him down and his fate is sealed. Esau Till has a disability of his own, spina bifida, but even though he is confined to a wheel chair, his genius mind knows no bounds. After surviving a horrible family life under his sadistic biological father, aptly named The Beast, Esau slowly moves into a life of crime, first by selling painkillers and then using his technological skills to be a potent bomb-maker. All the while, his prime concern is being his brothers caretaker. Torn between working for two rival crime bosses, Esau plays both sides against the middle and gets as much work as he can ask for, building a network and a nest egg for Tory-Boy's care because Esau knows if the authorities don't get him, his condition will, it's just a matter of time. So as the clock ticks down to his either natural or state mandated death, he does whatever it take to make sure his brother is cared for. This was a fine book. It deals with themes that are familiar in Vachss' work, namely the sanctity of family and the nature of trust. One of the prime movers for Esau's good side was the town librarian, I was happy to see, and Vachss even gives a shout-out to his friend and fellow storyteller Joe R. Lansdale by naming the "good" crime boss after him. One of the most appealing things about Vachss' stories is that there always consequences for actions. There may be heroes, but there are no superheroes and everybody has to carry his own weight.

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