One day you know more dead people that live ones... Jess Walter is a writer with a rare talent for finding humanity and emotional truths in lives lived on both sides of the law. With his third novel, Citizen Vince, Walter has crafted a story as inventive as it is suspenseful -- an irresistible tale about the price of freedom and the mystery of salvation. It's the fall of 1980, eight days before a presidential election that pits the downtrodden Jimmy Carter against the suspiciously sunny Ronald Reagan ("Are you better off than you were four years ago?"). In a quiet house in Spokane, Washington, Vince Camden wakes up at 1:59 a.m., pockets his weekly stash of stolen credit cards, and drops in on an all-night poker game with his low-life friends on his way to his witness-protection job dusting crullers at Donut Make You Hungry. This is the sum of Vince's new life: donuts, forged credit cards, marijuana smuggled in jars of volcanic ash, and a neurotic hooker girlfriend who dreams of being a real estate agent. But when a familiar face shows up in town, Vince realizes that no matter how far you think you've run from your past . . . it's always close behind you. Over the course of the next unforgettable week, on the run from Spokane to New York's Lower East Side, Vince Camden will negotiate a maze of obsessive cops, eager politicians, and emerging mobsters, only to find that redemption might just exist in -- of all places -- a voting booth. Darkly funny and surprisingly hopeful, Citizen Vince is the story of a charming crook chasing the biggest score of his life: a second chance.
It's October 1980, and laid-back loner Vince Camden never misses a morning making maple bars at the doughnut shop he manages in Spokane, Washington. And he rarely misses a night relieving locals of their bankrolls at an after-hours poker game, selling his hooker pals pot at cost, and running a lucrative credit-card theft ring. Vince has landed in eastern Washington via the witness-protection plan, and he is starting to like the simple pleasures, including receiving his first voter-registration card. So even when a hit man, a local cop, and Mob-boss-in-waiting John Gotti get Vince in their crosshairs, he keeps trying to figure out if he should pull the lever for Reagan or Carter. This tale of unlikely redemption works because of Walter's virtuoso command of character and dialogue--along with a wicked second-act twist. The novel is also a gritty love letter to Spokane and all the other second-tier cities where residents don't realize how good they've got it, and with its Capara-like spirit, it serves as a surprisingly satisfying antidote to the avalanche of cynical chatter emanating from this year's political campaigns and commentators. --Frank Sennett Copyright 2004 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Library Journal Review
Even though he is a low-level criminal hiding out in witness protection, Vince Camden is a likable fellow, trying to figure out his life and fix all he has done wrong. It is eight days before the 1980 election between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, and Vince, who has just received his voter registration card under his new name, has decided that he needs to vote since it will make him a "real" citizen. As he desperately tries to decide between the two candidates, he must also deal with a hit man who has blown his cover, handle a love life that involves a needy call girl, travel to New York City to make amends to the mob, and, finally, accept that his life as a baker in a small town is really not such a bad thing. What makes Walter's third novel (after Over Tumbled Graves and Land of the Blind) so enjoyable is Vince, a flawed but sympathetic character trying to find redemption. Recommended for most fiction collections.-Marianne Fitzgerald, Anne Arundel Cty. Schs., Annapolis, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Jess Walter was born on July 20, 1965. He graduated from Eastern Washington University. Before becoming an author, he worked as a journalist. His work has appeared in Newsweek, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. He has written one nonfiction book and several novels. His works include Every Knee Shall Bow, Over Tumbled Graves, The Zero, and Beautiful Ruins. His novel, Citizen Vince, won the 2005 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel. He was the co-author of Christopher Darden's 1996 bestseller In Contempt. (Bowker Author Biography)