Manual Urban Renewal: A Cross Novel (The Cross)

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Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine.

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Learn how your comment data is processed. We rated this book: He's a tough teacher, but he's the best. Oct 21, Amanda Byrne rated it it was ok Shelves: The entire time I was reading Urban Renewal, I felt like I was missing something, like there was an inside joke I wasn't privy to. It's a frustrating read, one that wanders all over the place with only the barest sense of cohesion. The blurb's misleading, and that's the most frustrating thing of all.

Buying up the houses is only a minor part of the story. There's something in there about manufacturing a turf war, another thing about Cross being on someone's shit list, and while the beginning sce The entire time I was reading Urban Renewal, I felt like I was missing something, like there was an inside joke I wasn't privy to.


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There's something in there about manufacturing a turf war, another thing about Cross being on someone's shit list, and while the beginning scene does eventually get tied into the overall story, it takes a while and then the thread gets lost in the muck of this story. And let's not forget the unnecessary backstory and the lack of chapters. It's like Vachss wants you to read Urban Renewal in one sitting, only I kept putting it down. Cross is pretty much a blank canvas, and that's okay. I didn't mind the fact the man had little personality. It was his thing, to be so unremarkable that he's not really a blip on the radar.

Each of the characters were distinct, though Princess drove me a little nuts, as did Tiger. I would have liked more Ace and Tracker. The quiet ones are always the ones who leave you wondering.

Urban Renewal (Cross, book 2) by Andrew Vachss

Characters aside, Urban Renewal was a mess. I was hoping for a taut, twisty crime novel. Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Not a typical Vachss I'm used to the Burke series which arcs towards the moral.

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This was a more self-centered book than I expected. Sparsely written and lots of random violence. Excellent tale, but not the greatest back story. Not sure I'm a fan of this group in the book.

A New Chapter for King's Cross, London

Jun 08, Chadwick rated it did not like it Shelves: This book is so bad that it is funny. The text is mostly dialogue, and rarely has more stilted and exposition-jammed supposedly hard-boiled speech been inflicted upon the reading public. Every voice in the book sounds like the same foul-mouthed five year-old trying to sound tough. The plot is scattershot and meandering, with pages of backstory inserted simply to explain a throwaway one line reference. Such as it is, it concerns the violent pursuits of a gang of super-competent criminals run by a This book is so bad that it is funny.

Such as it is, it concerns the violent pursuits of a gang of super-competent criminals run by a cold-eyed assassin named Cross. Vachss wants us to like this ridiculous, broadly painted gaggle of preposterous stereotypes: They are sworn siblings, bound together by their history of abuse and their thirst for vengeance against the institutions that damaged them "We hate them. All of them" is the motto of this band of brothers. They have a code — sort of.

Sometimes they only kill "wrong-doers," but then they abandon that to knock off two strippers at their club, one of whom is a Fed plant.

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Vachss has a personal obsession with child abuse. He is an advocate for children, and he has a hatred for those who hurt them. Let us all very seriously and without irony applaud him for his very necessary work in this domain. That being said, shoehorning these things into every damn novel he writes does not make for good fiction. Do they have Mary Sues in noir fiction?

I feel like the author is fantasizing about getting his vengeance upon abusers by imagining himself as Cross. These books serve as revenge porn for Vachss, and I suppose those who read him as well. Don't get me wrong, it's a subject that should be addressed, again and again, but not as clumsily as it is here.

This book also contains some of the weirdest writing about hip hop I have ever came across. There is a brief subplot where a character murders a Chicago rapper, and Vachss summation of the geography of the rap world — "East and West, they go to the death to prove who's the best. Only thing they agree on is there can't be no 'rest' — you see the picture I'm painting for you? An out of touch, old, white Martian.

And his African American dialogue is eeesh. Vachss lives in New York, he's a lawyer for troubled and abused kids, his wife was a prosecutor: And yet his bizarro grimdark underworld characters are lifeless and unbelievable.

The crimes they commit are pointless and clumsy. I am not certain if it is intentional, but there is a sort of science fiction feel to the setting. Chicago apparently has a miles-deep junkyard that the Cross Crew run as their personal fiefdom why? I guess this shit is from the comic book. Whatever, it is dumb as hell. There is also a real-estate scam subplot that is totally uninteresting. All that being said, this is a book I just couldn't put down. It was so awkward and weird and awful that I enjoyed it.

People I respect like Vachss, so I keep picking him up, and I keep failing to be impressed, but this one is awful to an absolutely baroque extent.

Urban Renewal

So yeah, read it I guess. Oct 13, Brett Thomasson rated it did not like it Shelves: Sometimes you read a book where you resent every tuppence, farthing, ha'penny or copper shaving that's in any way transferred from your possession on account of you choosing to read it. Welcome to Andrew Vachss' Urban Renewal , the second in the series about Cross and his crew of mercenary Chicago criminals. Cross and his crew are investing in real estate, buying some available property with an eye towards making some semi-legal money off of it. So they'll have to run off some gangs that occu Sometimes you read a book where you resent every tuppence, farthing, ha'penny or copper shaving that's in any way transferred from your possession on account of you choosing to read it.

So they'll have to run off some gangs that occupy the nearby area. And they do some other crimes, and we flash back to how the crew began, when Cross met Ace in a juvenile prison and then included the immense Rhino. Then Cross and crew murder the pimp's other hooker because she has enough money that she might hire a private detective once she decides he's missing, and wind up murdering both the hooker they'd tried to rescue and the dancer who brought her in because someone said the rescued hooker worked for the FBI.

And after mocking the dancer for being stupid enough to believe them when they said they would let her go. Tons of fine crime stories have criminals as antiheroes that we wind up rooting for because the writer built the story around interesting people who happen to be tough-guy crooks. Vachss has built the Cross stories around people who are less tough guys than they are bullies with a mean streak.

You might complain that I have spoiled some of the book, but that would be incorrect. It was spoiled as soon as the ink hit the page. Vachss, who has never been one to underestimate his own prophetic voice, would probably counter that the world of the Cross books is so bleak because it represents the lives of too many people used by a predatory part of society and cast off by the indifference of the rest. But telling me what made the people I'm reading about become such mean-spirited bullies doesn't tell me why the story they're in wanders all over the place while managing to go nowhere doing it.

Vachss knows how to write, and he knows how to construct a storyline with characters you'd rather see make it to the end of the book instead of die early so you could get rid of what they came in and wash your hands repeatedly.

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He did so several times in his Burke series, and he wove his philosophical points into the story in ways that showed what he wanted to say instead of telling it. With Chicago's gang situation fractured — microgangs claim territory by the block rather than the neighborhood — Cross buys recently abandoned property prime for rehab.

What is he up to? His rivals want to find out. Let the games begin. Vachss is unlike any other crime writer.