The Weight is Andrew Vachss's latest powerful novel. There are crime and mystery elements here, to be sure, but as much as any of that it is a character study and, ultimately, a love story. Its central character and narrator is Tim "Sugar" Caine, an old-school professional thief who takes the weight for a crime he didn't commit rather than provide an alibi that would have blown the whistle on others who were involved with him in a big-money jewel heist. It is Sugar's narration of this sequence of events and then his subsequent reflections while serving his prison time that give the reader a deep insight into the people and prior events that have shaped him into what he is --- a man on the wrong side of the law, yet someone with a very strict set of values and rules that he adheres to at all cost. Further complicatons stemming from the long-past jewel heist arise after Sugar has served his time and his subsequent efforts to tie off this loose thread forces Sugar to face danger and duplicity --- yet at the same time find trust and love --- in ways he never expected.
As usual, Vachss's prose is scalpel-sharp, his characters are memorable, and his descriptions of the intricacies of criminal life are fascinating.
For more details, you can read my full review of this book on Amazon.
If anyone hasn't guessed by now, I am a big fan of Andrew Vachss and I'm also proud to count him as a personal friend.
This has been a very busy Fall for Andrew. In addition to the newly released THE WEIGHT, as mentioned above, you'll also remember his novel HEART TRANSPLANT as covered in my October 20 blog.
Furthermore, his very first novel, A BOMB BUILT IN HELL, was released by Amazon Kindle on October 26. This novel was written in 1973, prior to his success with FLOOD (the beginning of his popular Burke series) and never saw print publication. At the time it was deemed unprintable, "too unrealistic", "a political horror story" ... because it predicted things like the turmoil in Haiti, the rise in sex predators, and school shootings such as Columbine and the rest that have followed. It is the story of Wesley, whom readers of Vachss will remember from the Burke books, and it is as hard-hitting and memorable as anything you will ever read --- made even more so by the timing of when it was written.
Finally, if you need just a little more of a Vachss fix, you can check out http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/ where you will find an original Vachss short story, "As The Crow Flies", as well as a lengthy review of The Weight and an in-depth interview (both by Ken Bruen).
Vachss's life work is combating abuses against the young and the weak in our society --- and thereby short-circuiting the "monsters" who grow out of these abuses and end up threatening society in return. His voice is strong, his message is strong --- Heed what he has to say.
Persevere --- WD