Blackjack by Andrew Vachss
A Cross Novel (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)

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Synopsis



    As darkness fell, Viktor was
standing in front of his headquarters. Despite the weather, he was
wearing a thick coat made of bear fur and a hat of the same material.
    "Bolshe!" he barked into a satellite phone. He listened to the response, then said, "Ne vazhno!" into the mouthpiece, and thumbed off the phone.
    He
signaled to a group of men standing close by. A line of five identical
midnight blue Audi A8 sedans pulled to the empty curb. As Viktor
prepared to enter the back seat of the middle car, the satellite phone
in his hand seemed to change color, as if a shroud of shadow had been
draped over it. A low sound, outside the human hearing threshold, came,
short and sharp:
    "убил!"
 
#

    Just
before daylight, a Chicago cop stared through the windshield of his
cruiser. "Holy Jumping Jesus Christ! I've been on the force since before
you were born, kid. And I've never seen anything like ... that."
    Both
the retirement-age sergeant and the rookie sitting next to him were
staring at bodies draped over a row of identical dark blue sedans. Each
body had been skinned, graphically displaying that all were missing
large bones, from femurs to skulls.
    Neither
cop noticed the city-camo shark as it slipped past the scene. Running
without headlights, it looked more like a shifting shadow than a car.
    Inside
that shark, Buddha said, "Someone got to him first, boss." His gloved
hands delicately fingered the thickly padded steering wheel as his eyes
checked the instrument display projected on the lower windshield.
    "Viktor always was an optimist."
    "Huh?"
    "He was a HALO jumper," Cross said.
"Absolutely positive his chute would open whenever he decided to pull
the chord. This time, the ground got there first."
    "Chang sees a picture of this, he'll think you worked some magic, getting it done so fast."
    "Yeah. So will the Russians."
    "They paid, too?"
    "More than Chang. The Russian Bear is a sacred icon to them. In their eyes, Viktor was looting a national treasure."
    "But it had to be some of their own people doing the actual poaching."
    "Sure. But that's their problem, at their end. We only got paid to solve the one at ours."
    "Comes out perfect, boss. It's like Viktor's number came up, and we hit that number at the same time."
    "Yeah," Cross says. "Perfect."
    "What's wrong?"
    "Come on, Buddha. You saw those bodies yourself. All of a sudden we got partners? Silent partners?"       
    "Chang sees a picture of this, he'll think you worked some magic, getting it done so fast."
    "Yeah. So will the Russians."
    "They paid, too?"
    "More than Chang. The Russian Bear is a sacred icon to them. In their eyes, Viktor was looting a national treasure."
    "But it had to be some of their own people doing the actual poaching."
    "Sure. But that's their problem, at their end. We only got paid to solve the one at ours."
    "Comes out perfect, boss. It's like Viktor's number came up, and we hit that number at the same time."
    "Yeah," Cross says. "Perfect."
    "What's wrong?"
    "Come on, Buddha. You saw those bodies yourself. All of a sudden we got partners? Silent partners?"   

 

About Andrew Vachss

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Hardboiled writer Andrew Henry Vachss was born on October 19, 1942 in New York City. He attended Case Western Reserve University and the New England School of Law. Vachss has worked in many government and law enforcement organizations, ranging from the U. S. Public Health Service to the New York City Juvenile Justice Planning Project. Vachss' work as a writer includes a series of books featuring an unlicensed private detective named Burke. Burke's appearances include Flood, Strega, Blue Belle, Hard Candy, Blossom and Sacrifice. Vachss has also written comic books and graphic novels.
 
Published July 10, 2012 by Vintage. 242 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Blackjack

Publishers Weekly

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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).

May 07 2012 | Read Full Review of Blackjack: A Cross Novel (Vin...

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