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Another Life (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – September 15, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030739039X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307390394
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #638,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Book Description
In this blistering new novel, Burke ("lord of the Asphalt Jungle"–-The Washington Post Book World) is forced into a journey that will change the lives of the urban survivalist and his outlaw family ... forever.

The only person Burke has ever called "father," a legendary crime planner known throughout the underworld as the Prof, is in a coma, barely clinging to life in the off-the-books hospital where the crew stashed him after their last job went off the rails. So when Pryce, a shadow-man with deep (and very dark) government connections, offers a package–Presidential-grade medical services for the Prof and a wiped-clean slate for everyone who participates–Burke signs the contract without reading it.

The two-year-old son of a Saudi prince has been kidnapped. A highly professional snatch: no errors, no forensics ... and no ransom note. Burke's job: get the kid back. Whatever it costs, whatever it takes. Pryce came to Burke because the profile concluded this was the work of a pedophile ring. But after Burke turns over every rock and comes up empty in his hunt for maggots, the ultimate man-for-hire must return to the day "Baby Boy Burke" was written on his birth certificate to conduct the one interrogation that could possible save this child and write, in the blood of his enemies, the final act of his life story.

An Interview with Andrew Vachss on Another Life

Q: There has been some discussion that this might be the last novel in the Burke series. Do you see it that way? And if so, why?

Andrew Vachss: I don't just "see" it that way, I wrote it that way. Another Life is the coda to the Burke novels, the final chapter in a series that has been running since 1985. The timing was no accident. If I was to keep faith to those who gone the distance with me, I had to be true to my original promise: unlike some series in which the protagonist never ages, I set out to have each book show the main characters not only aging, but changing as well. Even dying. This series is all about "Family of Choice." All the members of Burke's family share this truth: The most righteous of parents don't want their children to "follow in their footsteps," they want their children to walk past those footsteps. Burke's family have always walked the outlaw road, and can never walk another. But as the children reach adulthood, it is the family's blood obligation to fork that road for them. And that time has now come.

Q: This is the 18th volume in the Burke series. How has the series changed? How have the issues you address in the novels changed over the years?

AV: I am not sure the series has changed... because all the changes depicted throughout have been part of the original concept. Of all of the descriptions of my books, Sonny Mehta dubbing them "investigative novels" is the one I am proudest of, because I wanted the books to be Trojan horses, a platform from which I could show people a world known only to the "Children of The Secret." I didn't know there was a name for such an intent until I won the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière and a French reporter told me the Burke series was "littérature engageé." My goal was not to raise consciousness, but to raise anger. Ours is a country where anything can be accomplished if enough people get angry... because, in America, we act on our collective anger. If you want proof of how that works, just take a look at how New York State finally closed the hated (and virtually unknown) “incest exception.” When I first wrote about predatory pedophiles modem-trafficking in kiddie porn, reviewers condemned the book as a product of my "sick imagination." Who would say that today? Time and time again what I have written about has "come true." This is not because I am prescient, it is that my work takes me places most citizens never see. So the issues never really change, but as more and more folks become aware of the foundational truth in my "fiction," those issues no longer flourish in the shadows. Years after the series launched, enough folks focused their rage at how children are seen as property in America to form the first PAC (Political Action Committee) solely devoted to child protection. Anyone who says "books don't change anything," or--more commonly--that crime fiction is the wrong genre for promoting social change--should take a closer look.

Q: Burke has a very close family of choice. What drew these people together, and what do you see is the future for them, beyond the series?

AV: It would be easy to say that everyone in Burke's family was a "Child of The Secret," but that would not be true. What they have most powerfully in common is a marrow-deep hatred of humans who prey on children. The rest of the question is actually answered within the book itself, and I'm not a fan of "spoilers."

Q: Over the years, you're consistently ahead of the curve in terms of spotting cultural, political, and criminal trends before they become headlines. How are you constantly able to do this? And is there anything in this new novel that you think is likely to be in tomorrow's headlines?

AV: It's no great trick to spot things you see with your own eyes, which is why I wrote about predatory pedophiles deliberately seeking work in day care centers, or organ trafficking, or cults practicing "baby-breeding"... it's a long list. Most folks had never even heard the word "piquerist" before my novel on the subject. And although it looks as if I "predicted" the use of the Internet to lure children, or what I called "noir vérité," etc., I was functioning far more as journalist than a novelist when I wrote about such things. Burke has two extraordinary skills which set him apart from his contemporaries: the "pattern-recognition software" inside his mind, and his ability to extract information. Another Life is going to showcase both of those skills far more than any previous book. As for "tomorrow's headlines," you have to remember that I wrote the book over a year ago... so some have already surfaced. Ask my scalpel-penciled editor--Edward Kastenmeier--if you doubt my word. Many times we have had to alter a manuscript because what I was "predicting" had just come to pass. I don't know how long it is going to take for some of the truth revealed in Another Life to reach public consciousness. It may be "tomorrow's headlines"... or it may be another year or two. But if you look at my track record, you'll know where to put your money down.

(Photo Credit National Association to Protect Children) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

After a nicely gritty opening (Revenge is like any other religion: There's always a lot more preaching than there is practicing), Vachss's 18th Burke thriller (after Terminal) goes off in disparate directions that never quite coalesce into a satisfying whole. When a sniper shoots Burke's father, the Prof, the Prof's uneasy relationship with the law means that his life-threatening wounds can't be treated at a hospital. While his father's fate remains uncertain, a shadowy figure connected with U.S. intelligence draws Burke, an ex-con turned avenging angel for hire, into a kidnapping case. Early one morning, somebody removed the infant son of a Saudi prince from his father's custom Rolls, parked near an abandoned pier near the Hudson River, after the prince was serviced by a prostitute, who didn't realize the child was in the back seat. Burke visits his usual seamy corners of New York City in the ensuing investigation. Those who enjoyed previous books in the series will find more of the same. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Andrew Vachss has been a federal investigator in sexually transmitted diseases, a social-services caseworker, a labor organizer, and has directed a maximum-security prison for "aggressive-violent" youth. Now a lawyer in private practice, he represents children and youth exclusively. He is the author of numerous novels, including the Burke series, three collections of short stories, and a wide variety of other material including song lyrics, graphic novels, essays, and a "children's book for adults." His books have been translated into twenty languages, and his work has appeared in Parade, Antaeus, Esquire, Playboy, The New York Times, and many other forums. His books have been awarded the Grand Prix de Littérature Policiére, the Falcon Award, Deutschen Krimi Preis, Die Jury des Bochumer Krimi Archivs and the Raymond Chandler Award (per Giurìa a Noir in Festival, Courmayeur, Italy). Andrew Vachss' latest books are Mortal Lock (Vintage, May 2013) and Aftershock (Pantheon, June 2013). The dedicated Web site for Vachss and his work is

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Rose Dawn Scott on January 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Another Life is the final chapter of the Burke series -- I've always viewed the entire series as analogous to a single book, with each novel representing a chapter in Burke's story. If you've been a fan of the series, you will of course want to read this book; nobody sets down an engrossing read with the last chapter untouched. You won't be sorry. Burke, and the series, leave our lives on a high (or rather, hopeful) note. The conclusion may or may not leave you reeling, but it's guaranteed to leave you *thinking*.

It seems to me that Vachss' novels always have two simultaneous "themes" -- there are the action points, what most reviewers will tell you the book is "about" -- and then the slightly more subtle, infinitely more meaningful underlying thesis. On one level, Another Life is about Burke agreeing to look for the abducted toddler son of a Saudi royal in exchange for medical care for the Prof, clinging to life after being shot in the last chapter, and a clean slate for other Family-of-Choice members. Another (chance to continue the same) Life. At its heart, though, AL is a book about the things we do, the lengths we will go to, for "those who come after."

I'd heard a couple folks say this book was "predictable," and that frankly surprises me. Burke is in no way an impromptu type of individual, he plans everything he does down to the last detail. He doesn't *want* surprises, and those who've taken this journey with him all the way are likely justified in feeling we know how Burke will react to many given situations. This is where the surprise (on my part) came in. Vachss has written before in the series about people who "do the right thing for the wrong reason," and neither Burke nor Vachss has any problem with that.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By C. Williamson VINE VOICE on January 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Another Life" is the concluding chapter in the long novel that has been Andrew Vachss's Burke series, and will be no disappointment to those who have been following the story since 1985's "Flood." On the contrary, the book is the quintessence of what Burke tales have always been.

There is a puzzle to be solved, the investigation of which stretches throughout the book, taking Burke and the reader into areas of society that are tough to visit even through the filter of "fiction." There are the vivid characterizations and relationships between the main characters of Burke's crew, relationships that have grown deeper with every book. There are the frequent asides and soliloquies on contemporary life and society that I've always found as fascinating as the actual plots. And there is a climax that serves as a textbook definition of the perfect ending: surprising but inevitable in retrospect.

Add to all of these qualities the emotional resonance that comes with knowing that this is the last time we'll ever be able to walk with these characters, and "Another Life" is a gem, a novel that lets us look back to Burke's past and ahead to whatever future we can imagine for him and his family of choice. At once valedictory, heart-breaking, uplifting, and deeply satisfying, readers who have vicariously shared Burke's life for nearly a quarter century should no sooner miss this final chapter than the Prof should speak two sentences in a row without a rhyme. Like Mr. Henry says, "Only thing that's true is what you do," and what you've got to do is read this one. It rings true and clear as always, and for the last time...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Linda Koban on February 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Vachss' incredible ear translated into Burke's dialogue is unprecedented. Perhaps Burke and his family of choice have reached the kind of stability many of us hope for, but Vachss hopefully won't leave us without the only authentic view into the world of monsters and predators that most of us, fortunately, will never have contact with. I'll miss Burke and the gang, especially mama; we should all be so lucky. But if you you've been on board this unprecedented body of work you will want to say goodbye, and if you haven't the flashbacks provide a taste of what you've been missing. The family has entertained us for years, now it' s time to get involved in the issue and Vachss' website provides more than enough opportunities and incentive to do that.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. W. Lees on October 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
Maybe a bit harsh, but my impression was this was a book that had to be written quickly before the author could move on. It may also be that the "book" I had in my head for Burke's last outing was so different.

A number of pivotal characters in Burke's past are very conspicuous by their absence. Little set pieces that are not plot driven but familiar to all Burke fans were also card games with Max, no bets on the trotting. Even Burke's relationship with a new dog is glossed over and made irrelevant and unbelievable.

I am glad that most reviewers found the book to be 5-star but I'll stick with my version. If Mr Vachss gives me permission I might even write it!

In the meantime I'm going back to Flood to read through the series again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Setter on February 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As sad as I was to see the Burke series end, I thought that it was done well. Burke is approached by a shadowy character, Pryce (from Safe House) to retrieve the kidnapped son of a Saudi prince. During his search for the missing boy, Burke takes a road of self-discovery and redemption. While not my favorite Burke novel, I liked the way that the case was solved while Burke dishes out his own brand of justice. Cleverly enough, some of the popular characters are allowed to gracefully withdraw from "the life," while Burke sort of fades out. Vachss makes more than his usual social commentaries without pulling any punches. That in itself was entertaining.
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