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The Weight: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 9, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of this tepid stand-alone from Vachss (Haiku), professional thief Tim "Sugar" Caine finds himself in an interesting dilemma--a rape victim has mistakenly identified him as her attacker, but he hesitates to tell the cops the truth because he was participating in a jewel robbery at the time. The canny ex-con figures that if he does time for the sex crime, he will evade scrutiny for the crime he did commit. Caine ends up serving a five-year sentence for sexual assault before he's back on the New York City streets, where he reconnects with Solly Vizner, the man who put the jewel heist together. Most of the book concerns Caine's efforts to track down another member of the crew who Vizner fears could squeal on everyone else, but a less than exciting lead and a slow-moving plot make this one of Vachss's weaker crime novels. (Nov.) (c)
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From Booklist

Sugar Caine is a thief. When he’s pinched after a job, he’s offered a deal: roll over on his partners or take the fall for a rape he didn’t commit. Caine takes the weight for the rape, knowing his life will never be the same. When he gets out, his share for the job is waiting for him, but it won’t last forever. Solly, the mastermind behind the job, wants Caine to tie up some loose ends concerning a recently deceased planner who Solly thinks may have left behind evidence tying them to the case. Caine heads to Florida where he connects with the planner’s widow, a trophy wife whose motives Caine can’t pin down. Tying up the loose ends may take Caine places he thought he’d never visit. Vachss’ work is usually unrelentingly dark and set in the shadow worlds of sex predators and the homeless. The tone may be a bit lighter this time, but Vachss still creates a world that readers won’t really want to experience except on the page. It’s just too damn scary. Vachss’ fans will not be disappointed. --Wes Lukowsky
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307379191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307379191
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,812,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This latest novel by Andrew Vachss is as much a character study and, ultimately, a love story as it is a crime thriller or mystery. There nevertheless are mystery elements here and crimes certainly do take place in the course of the story. As usual, Vachss's distinct prose style propels the plot and demands the reader to keep turning pages. His deft characterizations are spot-on, and the intricacies of criminal life that he portrays are nothing short of fascinating.

The central character and narrator of THE WEIGHT is Tim "Sugar" Caine, an old-school professional thief who follows a strict set of rules that include doing only jobs arranged through his "planner", Solly. But even the most careful plans can go unexpectedly awry. When Sugar is wrongly charged for a vicious rape and picked out of a line-up by the victim herself, his only chance to beat the charge and avoid prison time is to alibi himself by admitting to a big-money jewel heist he was participating in at the time of the rape and try to make a deal by naming the others who were in on the job with him. But that goes against the rules Sugar lives by. He refuses to deal and does the prison time --- i.e. takes the weight, rather than give up any other members of the heist crew.

How he handles his prison time, his reflections while inside on previous incarceration and the events and people who have shaped his life up to this point start to give the reader deeper insight into Sugar. The title also plays off this pivotal period in the story --- the weight of the rules Sugar so rigidly adheres to, the weight he takes for the jewel heist, the weight he lifts regularly in the prison yard (and elsewhere) to maintain his impressive physical strength ...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sugar is a professional. He's a thief, he's good at his job, and he's proud of his adherence to the rules of the game. Sugar has just finished a jewelry store heist planned by his friend Solly when he's picked up for a rape. He couldn't have committed the rape but he can't give the cops an alibi without admitting that he was stealing jewels when the rape was committed. Eventually he takes a deal, doing time for a sexual assault but skating on the jewelry store job. When he gets out of prison, Solly gives him his cut but sends him to Florida to tie up some loose ends. The bulk of the novel focuses on Sugar's actions in Florida, his attempt to puzzle out what Solly really wants, and his relationship with the woman Solly sends him to meet.

Getting into the heads of society's outcasts is one of Vachss' greatest strengths. Few writers match his ability to create authentic criminal characters. Sugar is a big guy, bulging with muscle mass acquired from lifting weights -- and weight (or wait) becomes an important metaphor in the novel (hence the title). Sugar learned an early lesson about the life of a thief: it isn't how much weight you can lift, it's how much weight you can take. Sugar has a reputation as a stand-up guy, an exception to the axiom that there's no honor among thieves. He could have saved himself from prison time and sex offender registration by giving up the planner and the rest of the crew on the burglary, but he elects instead to keep his mouth shut and do his time.

Some readers don't like novels unless the hero is morally stalwart or the novel delivers a morally uplifting message. I admired Sugar's integrity -- his refusal to be a rat -- but a thief's integrity (and Sugar's reluctant use of violence to secure his safety) won't appeal to some readers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Somehow alike to the other works of Andrew Vachss and somehow different, this is the story of a thief who takes the fall for a burglary- he "takes the weight." On release he comes around to understanding how his "event planner" Solly manipulated him. He falls in love, and he matures. Chicanery unravels, and turnabout takes shape.

Vachss themes of finding moral justice in an unjust world, of making justice through personal responsibility, choice and action, all run strongly through this book as his others.

The characters and events of this book bring back fond memories of Max, the Prof, the Mole, Michelle and others who readers came to enjoy and now have been retired. They are not imitated and the whole setting and story and cast are all fresh. But the thematic elements satisfyingly rise again.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Andrew Vachss' BURKE series. So I assumed I'd like WEIGHT with different characters.
Not so. I forced myself thru the do-it-yourself type of book to help others understand the 'honor' between inmates/thieves in prison.
I would not recommend this is a first time read of Andrew Vachss' books... it doesn't do him justice.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoy Mr. Vachss' work. I am certainly disappointed with his other Burke series coming to an end. I felt as if I personally knew the characters. I am happy he is still writing though, and plan to follow his future endeavors.
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Format: Hardcover
I always enjoy Andrew Vachss's books, although "enjoy" really isn't the word one should use. You *experience* Vachss's fiction - it's several strengths stronger than most, and it always takes the reader on a journey through deep darkness to reach the light. THE WEIGHT is another of Vachss's non-series novels (though Buddha, who makes a brief appearance, may be recognized as a former resident of the "Vachssiverse" for lack of a better term). The protagonist is "Sugar" Caine, a thief and a good one, who is convicted of a rape he didn't commit in order to keep from being charged with a burglary he *did*. He takes "the weight" to keep from having to rat on his friends, something which just isn't in Sugar's code. After he does his time, there's something else he has to do for the man who planned the job and who saved Sugar's share.

It sounds pretty straightforward, but the narrative turns out to be as twisted and labyrinthine as the minds of Vachss's characters, and it takes some effort to follow all the plot turns. What seems simple becomes deeply complex, and at times I felt as lost as the characters to whom the motivations are being explained in Vachss's always authentic dialogue. Still, the explanations always came through and made sense, making me marvel at Vachss's continuing ability to convey the devious workings of the criminal mind. The believability of the dialogue, the gritty reality of the characters and the settings, and the way the story works itself out to its satisfying conclusion are all hallmarks of Vachss's work, and they're in good form here.

Since his ending of the Burke series, it's been fascinating to see in what directions Vachss's work is going. HAIKU was a masterpiece of emotional brevity, with a larger cast of characters.
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