Electrifying, compelling, and ultimately terrifying, Two Trains Running is a galvanizing evocation of that moment in our history when the violent forces that would determine America’s future were just beginning to roil below the surface.
Once a devastated mill town, by 1959 Locke City has established itself as a thriving center of vice tourism. The city is controlled by boss Royal Beaumont, who took it by force many years ago and has held it against all comers since.
Now his domain is being threatened by an invading crime syndicate. But in a town where crime and politics are virtually indivisible, there are other players awaiting their turn onstage. Emmett Till’s lynching has inflamed a nascent black revolutionary movement. A neo-Nazi organization is preparing for race war. Juvenile gangs are locked in a death struggle over useless pieces of “turf.” And some shadowy group is supplying them all with weapons. With an IRA unit and a Mafia family also vying for local supremacy, it’s no surprise that the whole town is under FBI surveillance. But that agency is being watched, too.
Beaumont ups the ante by importing a hired killer, Walker Dett, a master tactician whose trademark is wholesale destruction. But there are a number of wild cards in this game, including Jimmy Procter, an investigative reporter whose tools include stealth, favor-trading, and blackmail, and Sherman Layne, the one clean Locke City cop, whose informants range from an obsessed “watcher” who patrols the edge of the forest, where cars park for only one reason, to the madam of the county’s most expensive bordello. But Layne is guarding a secret of his own, one that could destroy more than his career. Even the most innocent are drawn into the ultimate-stakes game–like Tussy Chambers, the beautiful waitress whose mystically deep connection with Walker Dett might inadvertently ignite the whole combustible mix.
In a stunning departure from his usual territory, Andrew Vachss gives us a masterful novel that is also an epic story of postwar America. Not since Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest has there been as searing a portrait of corruption in a small town. This is Vachss’s most ambitious, innovative, and explosive work yet.