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Two Trains Running

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  526 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
In his most original and compelling book yet, Andrew Vachss presents an electrifying tale of corruption in a devastated mill town.  It is 1959--a moment in history when the clandestine, powerful forces that will shape America to the present day are about to collide.Walker Dett is a hired gun, known for using the most extreme measures to accomplish his missions. Royal Beaum ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published June 6th 2006 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published January 1st 2005)
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Apr 17, 2007 Todd rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people with little imagination
Shelves: crime-pulp-noir
Normally, I would recommend an Andrew Vachss novel to anyone who enjoys Hammett, Chandler, Woolrich or anyone other author of crime fiction. Vachss is the most fast-paced, gritty and violent writer of crime fiction I've read in the past few years (but I haven't read all that many others either).

In Two Trains Running, however, he not only slows down his usual pace to a crawl, he deconstructs his usual anti-hero into a lame, tongue-tied avatar of his own fate, Walker Dett, capable of only being d
Alan Mills
Jul 27, 2015 Alan Mills rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-crime
A "one off" by Vachss (not part of a series...although it surely could be). Set in a small town in an unidentified state (but apparently a border state--my guess is southern Ohio/Pennsylvania or Northern Kentucky--although it could equally be Cairo, Illinois) in 1959. The local politics, gambling, sex trade, and most everything else is controlled by a local gang, which is being pressured by the Italians and the Irish. The local powers bring in a contract killer, which--as it always does--sets al ...more
Kiera Healy
May 20, 2014 Kiera Healy rated it it was ok
I admit that I am slow to review this - I've been neglecting my Goodreads lately. Two months after I finished Two Trains Running, I had to skim it a bit to jog my memory; it didn't leave much of an impression. It's a noirish number with an enormous cast of characters - different gangs, criminals, politicians, etc, etc - and it's all spread rather too thin and difficult to follow. I didn't care for the protagonist, and the plot is so complicated that the characters spend most of their time remind ...more
Oct 27, 2013 Jacob rated it really liked it
I read this one ten years ago when it was originally released but surprisingly it didn't stay with me very well. That's to my benefit though as rereading it was great. It starts a little slowly and is very over descriptive at the start, but soon you find yourself hurtling down the tracks full speed ahead. This book has several irons in the fire and weaves them together well with the only regret being there hasn't been a sequel yet.
Deborah Katz
Oct 26, 2007 Deborah Katz rated it really liked it
It's cheesy noir.

But in a good way. It's cheesy noir for people who would otherwise throw cheesy noir across the room.

It's a beach read if you're reading on the beach when it's cloudy and sort of cold and damp out.

It's the thinking man's noir when he doesn't want to think too hard...just wants to fall into a genre but not feel stupid about it. I mean, would the thinking man read fucking Scott Turow?

It's Sol Yurick if Sol Yurick were more retro than PoMo.
Dec 07, 2008 Nancy rated it liked it
I'll always read whatever Mr. Vachss writes, but his more recent books make me miss the older ones, which had more heart. Two Trains is all plot, with two many characters spread too thinly. I didn't get nearly enough of the protagonist. Still, I like his voice, and his message and mission are consistent.
Maria Magdalena
I don't know why I read this book, other than it came in a bundle of NY Times Best seller list...
I don't know why I persevered in reading this book, the subject matter did not interest me. The list of characters is so long that half way trough the story I totally did not know who belonged to which 'gang' or what the hell was happening.
Rick Folker
May 27, 2017 Rick Folker rated it liked it
suspenseful, fast-paced, and a fun read
Don Crouch
Jan 01, 2014 Don Crouch rated it it was amazing
You aren't ready for this. No, really. No one is ready for the amazing turn Andrew Vachss has taken his writing life. And that, of course, is the best part. Two Trains Running is a book that astonishes the reader on many levels.

Known, of course, for the durable Burke series, Vachss here takes his loyal readers down a completely different track. For those just getting on board, the welcome is there for the reading, as this is a totally new creation from Vachss. A historical noir--told in a voice
Sep 12, 2009 Maddy rated it liked it
Shelves: 2005-reads
RATING: 3.25
SETTING: 1959 Locke City (fictional town in the midwest US)

Locke City is located in the central United States and has been run for decades by Royal Beaumont and his minions. It's the kind of place that becomes a destination if you're interested in gambling or other vices, with the appeal being that you won't be cheated or harassed. A place like that is bound to attract others who want to have the power and rewards of Locke City has to offer
Aug 25, 2008 Gary rated it it was amazing
Sin City

OK, so maybe I've just crawled out from under a rock, but I'd never heard of Andrew Vachss. And then I started reading Ken Bruen's bare-knuckled crime fiction, and kept running across Bruen's frequent and reverent references to Vachss. I figured it was time to find out what was impressing the venerable Bruen so much.

I find myself agreeing with Bruen's superlatives. "Two Trains Running" is a remarkable novel that can be enjoyed on several different levels. On the surface, it is a kick-but
Jan 06, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it
If you like old-school, hard-boiled noirish type crime novels this is for you. Vachss has been writing these types of book for ages. Just to show you what a fan I am of his stuff I've got every book he's written and that numbers to around 18 spots on my bookshelf not including the newest one that I haven't picked up yet. He normally writes about a character named Burke who's usual scenery is the underbelly of NYC where he hijacks scumbags and torments pedophiles and other sexual predators. "Two ...more
Jun 14, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
In his most original and compelling book yet, Andrew Vachss presents an electrifying tale of corruption in a devastated mill town. It is 1959--a moment in history when the clandestine, powerful forces that will shape America to the present day are about to collide.Walker Dett is a hired gun, known for using the most extreme measures to accomplish his missions. Royal Beaumont is the "hillbilly boss" who turned Locke City from a dying town into a thriving vice capital. But organized crime outsider ...more
Jul 01, 2008 Trilby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller, noir, crime
A very good "noir" novel about a postindustrial town filled with corruption. The main character, hit man Walker Dett, is darkly enigmatic. His "ethics" as he works his way through the underworld labyrinth are fascinating to watch. Although this has many historical details (e.g. description of '50's cars), it's allegorical, not realistic. The reader gets to observe the thinking of each group of crooks/bad guys (Klan, FBI, IRA, Mafia, "hillbillies", police, gangs, politicians) through discussions ...more
Theresa Leone Davidson
Oct 31, 2011 Theresa Leone Davidson rated it really liked it
Although there is something like one hundred characters in the story (all right, maybe not that many) and some of the time I was reading and didn't know who the heck I was reading about, this is a fun book. Set in 1959, the novel covers gangsters, the Klan, the emerging Civil Rights Movement, prostitutes, and Nazi sympathizers. The central character, Walker Dett, a contract killer, is so likable that he's the reason I was hooked fom the beginning. Shella, the novel by Andrew Vachss that was my f ...more
Mar 27, 2011 Jake rated it really liked it
This book had an edge to it that kept me hooked the whole time. The reader desperately wants to find out who exactly Walker Dett is and what happens to Locke City. With regards to that, it's well-written. However, while I did find this an enjoyable read, I think it's a little too ambitious for its own good, breaking off way more plots than necessary. The author also gets a little too cute with the foreshadowing. Still an interesting and engaging read, not what I expected (gangland wars-type stuf ...more
Jul 19, 2011 Mike rated it liked it
Taking a step back from the Burke novels was probably one of the smarter things Vachss has done - Two Trains Running isn't a marked improvement over them (I've come to accept that while I enjoy them, they're not great literature), but it's an interesting variation. The plot shifts between varying characters -- mob bosses, juvenile gang members, etc. (though it mostly focuses on Burke-alike Walker Dett) -- and has a sort of ticking time bomb intensity to it. The late-50s setting is also a nice sh ...more
J Curley
Sep 19, 2016 J Curley rated it it was amazing
Andrew Vachss is an exceptional writer and "Two Trains Running" stands out is a field of great work. The characters are rich and complex. It is an exceptional period piece and while reading it, it felt like I was in 1959. It is at the same a mystery, crime fiction, a period piece and a love story. He captures racial and political tension in a very realistic way. He writes heroes, villains, abusers and abused in a wa y that I felt I knew them, some I was happy to, others I wished I had never met. ...more
John Grazide
Aug 15, 2015 John Grazide rated it really liked it
Epic! That is about the only word that comes to mind. So much happening and so well told.

This is my first non-Burke by Vachss and it certainly didn't disappoint. There are a few similarities but not hardly enough to even begin to "feel" repetitive, just familiar. Some beautiful lines as well. The one that I feel will stick with me is; "The sky had broken its morning promise. A dull, leaden rain slanted down with the self-assurance of an experienced conqueror." Awesome!
Mar 04, 2012 Stephane rated it really liked it
Very interesting book that slowly reveals that it is not what you thought it would be at first. Vachss reveals himself to be a very good observer of the time period, especially of small town USA and shows his understanding of socio-politic of the time.
Very good noir/crime story. Highly recommended.
William Thomas
Dec 07, 2009 William Thomas rated it really liked it
an absolutely astounding departure from his usual novels, this book is extremely reminiscent of jim thompson's rough edged noir. glad to see burke put on the back burner and this novel woven with a huge cast of characters and a cornucopia of agendas. an amazing novel even though it seems to lull in the middle for a bit.
Jul 26, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, action, thriller
Thriller - Rival factions want control of 1959 Locke City, a small "vice" open city in the Midwest. The leader of the controlling mountain men has called in Walker Dett to dissuade the encroaching Mafia interest. But as the national election looms, there are growing interactions between Nazism Black Power, IRA, FBI, police, and press factions.
Apr 07, 2015 Wendi added it
I was very interested in the book, stuck with it, got more and more confused by the ever increasing subplots and I don't know if I just wasn't paying attention, but it lost me at the end - I reread the last chapter and it was so convoluted, I just couldn't follow it.
Jan 11, 2013 Dominick rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
Long, sprawling novel set in 1959, involving various intersecting plots about political machinations, race war, gang war etc. The contract killer character is interesting, but there's a lot of typical Vachss blather that slows everything down, and it ultimately is just too scattered.
Jonathan Jeffrey
Jun 23, 2008 Jonathan Jeffrey rated it liked it
I ordinarily love the books Vachss writes. While good enough to eventually read all the way through, the book is not up to his usual standards. I only read this book after three abortive attempts. If you've not read the Burke books, do so instead or at least first.
Jan 18, 2013 Kaitlin rated it did not like it
i couldnt even finish it honestly. i felt like going to sleep every time i picked it up. and usually i can read any book and love it.
Dec 21, 2012 Andrea rated it it was ok
It took me forever to slog through this. Parts of it were good but mostly it was just a chore to read. My least favorite Vachss book.
John Newman
Apr 04, 2010 John Newman rated it it was ok
Not my favorite of Vachss books. He seems to have lost track of the story half way through writing it.
Jan 04, 2009 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
another non burke book. Looking forward to it.
Feb 18, 2009 Stephanie rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I kept waiting for something significant to happen in this book and felt as if it were a waste of time.
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Andrew Vachss has been a federal investigator in sexually transmitted diseases, a social-services caseworker, a labor organizer, and has directed a maximum-security prison for “aggressive-violent” youth. Now a lawyer in private practice, he represents children and youths exclusively. He is the author of numerous novels, including the Burke series, two collections of short stories, and a wide varie ...more
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