Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The White Van

by Patrick Hoffman

“Gritty, exhilarating . . . The White Van, with its quick and scary turns, provides a hell of a ride; the action never stops—even after the final page.” —Wall Street Journal

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 256
  • Publication Date September 15, 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2420-3
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $14.00

About The Book

At a dive bar in San Francisco’s edgy Tenderloin district, drug-hustling Emily Rosario is drinking whiskey and looking for an escape from her desperate lifestyle. When she is approached by a Russian businessman, she thinks she might have found her exit. A week later—drugged, disoriented, and wanted for robbery—Emily finds herself on the run for her life.

When cop Leo Elias—broke, alcoholic, and desperate—hears about an unsolved bank robbery, the stolen money proves too strong a temptation. Elias takes the case into his own hands, hoping to find Emily and the money before anyone else does.

A sharply drawn cast of characters—dirty cops, Russian drug dealers, Chinese black-market traders, street-smart Cambodians, and shady entrepreneurs—all take part in this terrifying tour through San Francisco’s underbelly. Confronted with the intimate details of characters that blur the line between good and evil and twists that surprise until the end, readers of The White Van will find their own moral code challenged by the desperate decisions the characters are forced to make.


“Exhilarating crime debut . . . Hoffman gives his story a stunner of a twist, where roles are reversed, lies become truths, and it all gives way to the most perfect hustle of all . . . Hoffman’s crime plot doesn’t just thicken, it boils with surprise after surprise and suspense as tight as a noose . . . He cinematically captures a seamy San Francisco . . . the hard-boiled prose glints like a broken mirror . . . wildly satisfying.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Gritty, exhilarating . . . The White Van, with its quick and scary turns, provides a hell of a ride; the action never stops—even after the final page.” —Wall Street Journal

“An impressive debut.” —Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal

“Outstanding . . . Hoffman writes with great authority.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Almost perfect in the way it oscillates between black comedy and high suspense. The White Van is a caperish delight, channelling Elmore Leonard and Donald Westlake to exhilarating and unexpected effect.” —Guardian (UK)

“A Faberge egg of a thriller, spring-loaded with revelations.” —Anna Mundow, Barnes & Noble Review

“Filled with epic twists and savage turns, the pace is relentless, and Hoffman’s drive sets fire to the pages as he crawls across the sinister black underbelly of the Californian dream. Hoffman unflinchingly looks into the heart of the sleaziest inhabitants of the underworld, yet manages to bring each of them alive in distinctive, almost hypnotic, detail . . . Exhilarating and powerful.” —Daily Mail (UK)

“My favorite debut of 2014 . . . Hoffman delivers a relentless, gritty thriller with a cast of characters way out of their depth.” —MysteryPeople

“A crackling thriller. Starts with an offbeat bank job and burns through the pages to a slam-bang finish. Keep your eye on Patrick Hoffman—he’s got the right stuff.” —James Carlos Blake, author of In The Rogue Blood

“If you intend to read The White Van, I hope you’ve cancelled any other plans for the next day or two, since you won’t be moving from your couch. In this rocket-paced San Francisco thriller, the cops are as desperate as the criminals, and the criminals as sympathetic as the cops. Patrick Hoffman has written an absolutely spellbinding novel.” —Michael Kardos, author of The Three-Day Affair

The White Van will grip you from the first page and leave you looking over your shoulder for weeks. Patrick Hoffman is nothing less than an emerging master of the crime genre. Whatever he writes, I’ll read.” —Jordan Bass, executive editor, McSweeney’s

“A wild ride into the black heart of classic noir that unfolds in a pulsating series of betrayals, black mail, bad decisions, and worse luck; this is the stuff of Dashiell Hammett’s best nightmares.” —Mark Haskell Smith, author of RAW

“This thriller, winding through the seamy underbelly of San Francisco, is stuffed with truly shocking twists.” —Tina Jordan, Entertainment Weekly, “Top Picks in New Paperbacks”


A Wall Street Journal Best Mystery of 2014
One of San Francisco Chronicle‘s Best of 2014: 100 recommended books
An Amazon Big Fall Favorite
A Publishers Weekly Book of the Week
Named one of the 22 Most Exciting Literary Debuts of 2014 by Buzzfeed
Shortlisted for the 2015 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award


Emily woke up at dawn, freezing cold. She had no idea where she was. She saw wet leaves and dirt. Her head felt like it had been smashed with a metal pipe. She had experienced many bad mornings in her life, but this was the worst.

She was in the woods. Dirt and woods and trees. The cold was painful, like cuts and burns. Her mind turned over images, trying to straighten things out; she tried to trace the night. How the fuck did I end up here? The Russian popped into her mind and stayed there like a picture.

The hotel, the van, the wig, the redhead, the guard, the cops, the customers; all of these images slowly rolled through her mind . . . She felt guilt inside her like she was filled with black tar. She was swimming in it. What have I done? She had pointed a gun, she’d stolen, she’d yelled—she had done all these things, including the drugs: the crack, the booze, and the pills (what were the pills?). She had been made into a slave.

Her head pounded; her hands ached with cold. For a few seconds she sobbed into the side of the canvas bag, and then she realized what it was. Her chest tightened with panic. She opened the top of the bag with her cold fingers. She pulled the bag open. There were stacks of bundled money: hundred-dollar bills. She stopped crying.