"...Story goes, Vincent Zandri—prominent photojournalist and globe-trotter—stumbled backward into the story for this book (The Innocent), back in the nineties. He was working on the memoirs of some guy who used to work as a prison guard at Sing Sing or Alcatraz or some such, when the basic premise of the novel, As Catch Can, came to him.
"I don’t know if he ever wrote those memoirs. But in ’99, As Catch Can was published and got all the accolades that a young writer always hopes for: it sold pretty well, the critics dug it, and there were even some vague stirrings of interest from the Cash Cow we call Hollywood. Riding on the success of As Catch Can, Zandri wrote another two novels and was well on his way to establishing himself as a major name in hardboiled fiction circles.
"Then something happened, I dunno what. He dropped out. Some say Zandri—who, remember, is a sort of world-travelin’ action-man type—was forced on the lam after seducing the wife of a prominent Southeast Asian warlord. Some people were convinced he’d been murdered by a drug cartel after discovering a secret connection between them and the CIA. Still others were certain that Zandri had finally fallen into the bottle and was strapped up in some padded room in his hometown of Albany.
"Thing is, no one really knew what had happened.
Thing is, nothing had happened.
Zandri had only been recharging, and reacclimating himself to the new world of publishing. While he’d been away, working the day job as a picture-snapping super hero, the industry had changed dramatically and even someone with as remarkable a track record as our hero had his work cut out for him getting a new book on the stands.
"So he went to the small press with his novel, Moonlight Falls. Out of necessity, Vin is a relentless self-promoter. By the sweat of his brow he made sure readers and critics noticed Moonlight Falls and his hard work paid off—Falls actually sold remarkably well for a small-press release and was reviewed favorably all over the place. His next small-press novel, The Remains, was even better and showed off Vin’s diversity and lean style beautifully.
"I’ve told you all that to tell you this: The novel you hold in your hands (or on your Kindle, or whatever) is really As Catch Can, just with a new title and a fancy new cover. Our hero has come full circle, you could say. And I kinda envy you, about to read this book for the first time. It has all the wild enthusiasm of a young writer’s first crack at the genre, and it’s tough-minded and lyrical and unforgettable.
"And, as a new starting place for Vincent Zandri, it’s more than a little symbolic. Vin has lots more stories in his head, and this “touching base” with his origins, I suspect, is just a prelude to even more great work."
Heath Lowrance, noir critic and author of The Bastard Hand
September 4, 2010