Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Signwave -- Andrew Vachss

I read and enjoyed most of the books in Andrew Vachss' series about Burke, but I hadn't read any of the titles in his new series about Dell and Dolly.  It was easy enough to pick up on the characters with the third book in the series, Signwave, however.  There are a number of references to events in previous books, but they're not distracting or overly puzzling.

Dell is a former legionnaire and assassin, but now he and Dolly, a former nurse, have settled down in a small Oregon town and have begun accumulating a family of choice.  Dell is entirely devoted to protecting Dolly and keeping her safe.  Anyone who threatens her, even vaguely, is making a big mistake.

I'm guessing there wasn't a lot of backstory about Dell in the previous volumes because there's a lot of it here, and we find out a good bit about what made him who and what he is.  The book is as much a meditation on violence as it is a crime novel.  Dell is man with very particular set of skills, skills he acquired over a very long career. Skills that make him a nightmare for people who threaten anybody he cares about.

The man who makes the vague threat is a hedge fund millionaire, and he's proposing to build a magnificent tourist attraction for the town.  It won't cost the town a thing, but it will bring in tourists and money.  A good thing, right?  Or does he have ulterior motives? 

Dell investigates and finds out a number of things, but I'm not sure of how much bearing they have on the man's motives.  There are, I suppose, two villains in the book, but they appear only twice, briefly. The thing is that their motives don't matter.  A threat is a threat.  Dell deals with threats only one way.

Vachss' writing is tight and incisive.  He knows how to create and build suspense, and the characters of the family of choice are all interesting.  If you're a Vachss fan, you'll want to read this one.  If you're not sure, the original Dell and Dolly story can be read right here for free.  Check it out and see what you think.


Mike Stamm said...

I've read quite a few of Vachss's books, though not for a few years now, and enjoyed them all; and I met the man when he was here in Eugene, Oregon for a book signing. Fascinating guy. So the Dell and Dolly stories are intriguing, and I'll check this one out--but your link to the first one, alas, gives me a "Not Found Error 404" message.

Unknown said...

Don't know what happened with the link, Mike, but it's fixed now.

George Kelley said...

I've read a lot of Vachss, too. I like his early work a lot.

Jeff Meyerson said...

I read several of his early Burke books a long time ago. Will check this out as it sounds different. (By the way, AFTERSHOCK is the first in the series for those too lazy to look that up.)