cover image Blackjack: A Cross Novel

Blackjack: A Cross Novel

Andrew Vachss. Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, $13.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-307-94957-8

Having appeared in short stories and comics, Cross, the “ultra-pragmatic man-for-hire,” makes his full-length fiction debut in this lively cartoon in prose from Anthony Award–finalist Vachss (Batman: The Ultimate Evil). Cross and his unusual crew (Buddha, Ace, Princess, and Rhino) operate from a Chicago subterranean poolroom known as Red 71. Another group of similarly unusual characters (Percy, Tiger, Tracker, Wanda, and “the blond man”) want to hire Cross to find a live “specimen” of a creature that removes the spinal cords of its victims as trophies. Such a creature, described as a “blotchy mass” or “shadowy blob,” flows down the sides of an abandoned gas station in one chilling scene. The devastating climax comes at one creature’s chosen killing field—a federal prison divided among hostile groups of whites, blacks, and Latinos. Vachss effectively channels Predator and Rambo in this heated blend of fantasy and machismo in the urban jungle. Agent: Lou Bank, Ten Angry Pitbulls. (July)