Andrew Vachss' pre- novel was written in 1973. It was rejected by every publisher, one of whom described it as a "political horror story," others of whom berated it for its "lack of realism," including such things as Chinese youth gangs and the fall of Haiti. And the very idea of someone entering a high school with the intent of destroying every living person inside was just too ... ludicrous.
Readers of Vachss' Burke series will immediately recognize Wesley, the main character of . This is his story.
Burke, the relentless urban mercenary, returns in this riveting new thriller by bestselling author Andrew Vachss. Two decades ago, Burke "recovered" a teenage runaway from a pimp. Now she's on the run, again. After seeing the man who hired him to find her gunned down by a professional hunter-killer team, Burke realizes he could be next. The master urban survivalist knows he has to finish the job to learn the truth, only now he's looking for a predator, not a victim. The search will force Burke to walk down the one dark alley that has always terrified him -- his past.
From Publishers Weekly
Hard-boiled crime fans will enjoy the latest entry in Vachss's long-running Burke series (, etc.). The renegade New York City PI, who operates by an idiosyncratic private moral code, has been lying low since being shot in the face. But a longtime fixer, Charlie, soon sees past Burke's attempt to pose as his own brother and arranges a meeting with a prospective client, who wants to find a missing woman. What should have been a routine setup turns deadly when professional hit men gun down the client as he's attempting to retrieve Burke's retainer from his car. Burke, afraid that the gunmen may come after him and the data-filled CD the dead man gave him, uses his own network of allies and contacts to learn more about the missing woman, Beryl Preston, whom he happens to have saved from a pimp 20 years earlier. Despite a familiar plot, the sharp-edged prose and cutting insights into New York's underbelly elevate this above many similar crime novels.
For years Burke has harbored an outlaw's hard love for Wolfe, the beautiful, driven former sex-crimes prosecutor who was fired for refusing to "go along to get along." So when Wolfe is arrested for the attempted murder of John Anson Wychek, a vicious rapist she once prosecuted, Burke deals himself in. That means putting together a distrustful alliance between his underground "family of choice," Wolfe's private network, and a rogue NYPD detective who has his own stake in the outcome.
Burke knows that Wolfe’s alleged "victim," although convicted only once, is actually a serial rapist. The deeper he presses, the more gaping holes he finds in the prosecution’s case, but shadowy law enforcement agencies seem determined to protect Wychek at all costs, no matter who it sacrifices. Burke ups the ante by re-opening all the old "cold case” rape investigations, calls in a lot of markers from both sides of the law, and finally shows all the players why "down here" is no place for tourists.
In his seventh outing, Burke, Vachss's flinty ex-con and relentless crusader for abused kids last featured in Sacrifice , is still reeling after having killed a kid in a previous case gone sour. Here, he leaves his underground detective network headquartered in Manhattan's Chinatown for a rarified Connecticut suburb shaken by a series of teen suicides. Burke is hired to protect Randy, a listless high school grad whose absent, jet-setting mother did a favor for Burke years ago when she was a cocktail waitress in London and he a clandestine government soldier en route to Biafra. Still haunted by his experience in the African jungle and his encounter there with the suicidal tug of the abyss--the eponymous "zero"--Burke plunges into his plush surroundings with the edgy vindictiveness of a cold-war mercenary, uncovering a ring of blackmail and surveillance, a sinister pattern of psychiatric experimentation based at a local hospital and a sadomasochistic club frequented by twin sisters named Charm and Fancy. Vachss's seething, macho tale of upper-crust corruption is somewhat contrived and takes a gratuitously nasty slant toward its female characters.
After years on the run, Burke is desperate to return to his native New York, the only way he can reconnect with his outlaw "family." But to survive in their part of the City, where reputation is everything, Burke must take major risks to reestablish his presence. So when a Mafia man contacts him about the murder-as-message of his sixteen-year-old daughter - the offspring of what he calls an "outside the tribe" affair that he must keep secret at all costs - Burke's depleted bankroll persuades him to step out of the shadows and do something he hasn't done in years...actually investigate a crime.Burke needs cover to penetrate the teenage subculture of the Long Island town where the girl lived and died, so he puts together a crew of gifted role-players, including a pair of lesbian "power exchangers" who market their special brand of sex on the Internet. When Burke himself surfaces as a casting director, seeking tomorrow's stars for a movie to be shot on location, the investigation quickly spins off into uncharted depths. What he discovers is a new kind of filmmaking, a new kind of violence, and a predator unlike any he's ever known. When they meet head-on over a brutal work of cinema verite, only one of them will survive the final cut.
When last encountered (2000's ), career criminal Burke was on the rebound from a nearly successful assassination attempt, lying low and licking his wounds in Portland, Oregon. Severed from his connections in NYC, Burke survives on jobs--"violence for money" mostly--brokered by his live-in lover, Gem, an Asian beauty with a painful, larcenous past and a present to match.
At hand is a task Burke has done before: the recovery of a runaway, a 16-year-old girl named Rosebud. But Burke, an assassin with scruples, knows when things aren't right. Rosebud's father, Kevin, has a '60s-era contempt of "The Man" that doesn't jibe with his obvious wealth. Mother Maureen limps through life on pharmaceutical crutches. Younger sister Daisy and best friend Jennifer know things but won't share. As his search spirals out from Portland's mean streets, Burke encounters a mysterious young woman, Ann O. Dyne, who offers to help for a price. Her raison d'être is pain management--securing and dispensing medications vital to the terminally ill but held beyond their reach by a largely uncaring cadre of doctors, lawyers, and politicians. Eventually, of course, this plot line connects with Rose's whereabouts.
Andrew Vachss's MO here, as usual, is a mystery (Rosebud's disappearance) plus an actual cause célèbre (humane pain management). It's a risky formula that aims both to entertain and to enlighten. With its believably unbelievable characters, Vachss's spare noir, and steely pacing that counterpoints a bolt-upright climax, Burke's 13th outing is every bit as satisfying as the dozen that came before.
When his girlfriend, Crystal Beth, is gunned down at a gay rights rally in Central Park, Burke, the underground man-for-hire and expert hunter of predators, vows vengeance. But someone beats him to the task: a shadowy killer who calls himself Homo Erectus and who seems determined to wipe gay bashers from the face of the earth. As the killer's body count rises, most citizens are horrified, but a few see him as a hero, and they hire Burke to track him down...and help him escape.
In Choice of Evil, Burke is forced to confront his most harrowing mystery: the mind of an obsessive serial killer. And soon the emotionally void method behind the killer's madness becomes terrifyingly familiar, reminding Burke of his childhood partner, Wesley, the ice-man assassin who never missed, even when the target was himself. Has Wesley come back from the dead? The whisper-stream says so. And the truth may just challenge Burke's very sense of reality. Expertly plotted, addictive, enthralling, Choice of Evil is Andrew Vachss' most haunting tale to date.
"In the first rank of American crime writers. . . . Next to Vachss, Chandler, Cain and Hammett look like choirboys." --Cleveland Plain Dealer
Burke--ex-con, mercenary, sometime killer--makes his living preying on New York's most vicious predators and avenging their innocent victims. But in Andrew Vachss's mercilessly suspenseful new novel, Burke finds himself working the other side of the street, where guilt and innocence are as disposable as the sheets in a Times Square hotel--and as dirty. Burke's new employer is Kite, a fanatical crusader who specializes in debunking "false allegations of child sexual abuse. Kite has a case that may be the real thing, but needs Burke to tell him if it is. And if mere money can't persuade Burke to cooperate, Kite has plenty of other incentives at his disposal--including a fanatical bodyguard with a taste for corsets and brass knuckles. A tour guide to hell written in icy prose, False Allegations is Vachss at his most unnerving.
"Burke is the toughest talking first-person narrator since Mike Hammer." --Los Angeles Times
"Vachss . . . writes hypnotically violent prose." --Chicago Sun-Times
In Burke himself is in danger of becoming a victim. Two rogue cops are stalking him. The coolly seductive Belinda Roberts wants him to free a man charged with a grisly string of rape-murders. The brutal and half-crazy Detective Jorge Morales may be trying to frame Burke for the same crimes. What ensues is a novel of high-wire suspense and nightmarish authenticity informed by an insider's knowledge of the city where everything—from flesh to other people's cellular phone numbers—is up for sale.
In the figure of Burke, Andrew Vachss has given contemporary crime fiction one of its most mesmerizing characters. An abused child raised in orphanages, foster homes, and prisons, Burke is a career criminal and outlaw who steals and scams for a living.
In an old cellmate has summoned Burke to a fading Indiana mill town, where a young boy is charged with a crime he didn't commit and a twisted serial sniper has turned a local lovers' lane into a killing field. And it's here that Burke meets Blossom, the brilliant, beautiful young woman who has her own reasons for finding the murderer—and her own idea of vengeance. Dense with atmosphere, savagely convincing, this is Vachss at his uncompromising best.
The new novel from Andrew Vachss puts Burke 'hard-core career criminal and man-for-hire' up against a new breed of predator: stalkers. Some obsessed, some deranged, all dangerous.Burke's old prison pal Hercules, hired by a shadowy network that runs a safehouse for stalking victims, botched the job, and one of the stalkers is dead. To save his partner, Burke has to penetrate the network, and he makes a deal with the boss, Crystal Beth, a woman as obsessed as the stalkers. But Crystal Beth has a stalker of her own, an extortionist who threatens to bring down her entire network unless she surrenders one of the women she's hiding.When Burke learns that the extortionist might be government-issue, and that the stalker he's protecting is a member of a neo-Nazi cell with plans to make Oklahoma City look like a pipe bomb, his survivalist instincts go on full alert ("When there's too many loose threads, somebody always weaves them into a noose"). And when it comes down to making his own house and his family-of-choice safe, Burke turns lethal.With blistering power, Safe House reminds us why Kirkus has called Burke "one of the most fascinating male characters in crime fiction."
Electrifying, compelling, and, ultimately, terrifying, Two Trains Running is a galvanizing evocation of that moment in our history when the violent forces that would determine America's future were just beginning to roil below the surface.
Once a devastated mill town, by 1959 Locke City has established itself as a thriving center of vice tourism. The city is controlled by boss Royal Beaumont, who took it by force many years ago and has held it against all comers since. Now his domain is being threatened by an invading crime syndicate. But in a town where crime and politics are virtually indivisible, there are other players awaiting their turn onstage. Emmett Till's lynching has inflamed a nascent black revolutionary movement. A neo-Nazi organization is preparing for race war. Juvenile gangs are locked in a death struggle over useless pieces of "turf." And some shadowy group is supplying them all with weapons. With an IRA unit and a Mafia family also vying for local supremacy, it's no surprise that the whole town is under FBI surveillance. But that agency is being watched, too.
Beaumont ups the ante by importing a hired killer, Walter Dett, a master tactician whose trademark is wholesale destruction. But there are a number of wild cards in this game, including Jimmy Procter, an investigative reporter whose tools include stealth, favor-trading, and blackmail, and Sherman Layne, the one clean Locke City cop, whose informants range from an obsessed "watcher" who patrols the edge of the forest where cars park for only one reason, to the madam of the country's most expensive bordello. But Layne is guarding a secret of his own, one that could destroy more than his career. Even the most innocent are drawn into the ultimate-stakes game, like Tussy, the beautiful waitress whose mystically deep connection with Walker Dett might inadvertently ignite the whole combustible mix.
In a stunning departure from his usual territory, Andrew Vachss gives us a masterful novel that is also an epic story of postwar America. Not since Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest has there been as searing a portrait of corruption in a small town. This is Vachss's most ambitious, innovative, and explosive work yet.
Andrew Vachss returns with a mesmerizing novel about a hard-core thief who's about to embark on a job that will alter his life forever.
Sugar is that rarest of commodities: an old-school professional thief, as tough and loyal as a pit bull, packing 255 pounds of muscle. When he's picked out of a photo array in a vicious rape case, the cops find his apartment empty. A stakeout catches Sugar when he returns… carrying a loaded pistol. The sex-crime cops get nothing from their interrogation, but a streetwise detective figures out why Sugar offers no alibi: at the time of the rape, a holiday-weekend break-in job was being pulled at a jewelry store. The DA offers Sugar two options: give up his partners in the jewelry heist and walk, or plead to the rape he didn't commit – and he'll toss in the gun charge. For Sugar, that's not two options; he takes the weight.
When Sugar finishes his time, his money is waiting for him, held by Solly, the mastermind behind the jewelry heist. But Solly tells Sugar that one of the heist crew was actually sent by another planner – and that planner has just died. In Sugar's world, all loose threads must be cut. He suspects that there's more to this job than what Solly is telling him. But nothing he suspects or imagines can prepare him for what he finds…
"Vachss is a contemporary master." – Atlanta Journal Constitution
"His writing has the power of a rogue elephant." – Cleveland Plain-Dealer
"A confection from Hell- a poison pill laced with acid and wrapped in razor-edged concertina wire." – Courier-Post (Philadelphia)
"Jolting…eerily seductive." – Washington Times
"Each [Burke book] is as savage as Celine. And there it is, a three sentence throwaway paragraph, as pure as Euclid. I'm a sucker for such Elegance." – Newsday
"It's wonderful. The words do leap off the page. The principal character is an original. The style is as clean as a haiku." – Washington Post
"Andrew Vachss is unique among modern writers; no one else comes close to the raw power and intellectual ambiguity that he manifests so elegantly, so coldly." – Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MI)
Now a paid assassin, Burke is on a collision course with a man named Train, who runs a "safehouse" for kids. But when Burke learns that his suspicions about Train are right (the safehouse keeps kids in harm's way), he becomes his own gun-for-hire.
From Publishers Weekly
In his first novel, Flood, attorney-turned-novelist Vachss introduced Burke, the ex-con investigator who's not averse to working either side of the law. The book captured the brutal atmosphere of New York 's underbelly. This modern-day Robin Hood returns to that seamy world, complete with a merry band that includes a mute Mongolian strongman, a weird genius who lives in a junkyard, a transvestite prostitute and an intimidating dog named Pansy. Hired by a strangely alluring Mafia princess calling herself Strega ("witch" in loose translation), Burke must find a certain photograph of a child forced into a sex act. Plunged into the world of kiddie porn, he wreaks havoc on the perverts, pimps and pedophiles he despises, the true "bad guys" in his view of things. Despite its action and fast pace, the book is less compelling than the author's first, lapsing into a sort of predictability and short on the pulsing energy a thriller must sustain. 50,000 first printing.