Book Review: The White Van by Patrick Hoffman
Posted on June 13, 2023 at 6:21 am by Gene Ambaum
The White Van by Patrick Hoffman. Grove Press, 2014. 9780802124203. 240pp.
When I walked into BLMF Books a few weeks ago, the proprietor JB saw me and said, “I’ve got a book for you.” He handed me The White Van and said it was great and he’d read it quickly. He also asked if I’d ever heard of Hoffman. I hadn’t, but now that I’ve finished this book, I’m glad I bought his second novel that day, too.
This is a dark crime story with a robbery at its heart, and the fewer specifics you know about going in the better. It all starts with a woman named Emily, one step from living on the street in San Francisco, and a man she meets in the bar who buys her drinks. He coaxes her back to his hotel room with the promise of drugs while swearing that he doesn’t want sex. And he’s not lying. He and his accomplices convince her to stay there with drugs and cash, promising her the chance to earn more if she goes along with their plan, which they’ll reveal at some point. It involves the Russian mob, several folks who have fallen into debt, and a high-stakes heist that supposedly has zero risk. Two cops, out for themselves, also figure in.
The mistakes everyone makes seem realistic throughout, as do the ways everything goes wrong. A dark, compelling crime novel.