cover image That’s How I Roll

That’s How I Roll

Andrew Vachss. Pantheon, $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-307-37994-8

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. (Mar.)