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Down Here: A Burke Novel Hardcover – April 13, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews
Book 15 of 18 in the Burke Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Burke is back with a vengeance, and with the full complement of underground irregulars who've populated his dozen or so previous noir adventures. For starters, there's Max the Silent and the Prof (short for both Professor and Prophet), Pepper, Mole and Michelle, street folks all, as well as the giant menacing rottweiler known as Bruiser, who protects the beautiful crime fighter Wolfe. No series offers a richer world of night people, or one as dark and brutal. For the Burke fan, plot becomes almost secondary to the immersion into Vachss's thrillingly seductive downtown Manhattan shadow land. But this installment has a terrific hook as well: Burke and company must come to the rescue when Wolfe, a righteous former prosecutor specializing in sex crimes, is framed for the attempted murder of one of the serial perps she once put away, a lowlife named John Anson Wychek. Vachss's prose is at its brittle best in his presentation of the case against the taciturn Wolfe, as well as Wychek's criminal past. At length, Burke learns that Wychek inexplicably has federal protection, and conceives an elaborate scam to snare him. Posing as reporter pal J.P. Hauser, Burke works his way into the life of Wychek's yuppie sister, Laura. This extended cat-and-mouse game (or perhaps Burke is falling in love?) has quiet depth as well as tension. Burke's an original, often imitated but never matched because Vachss keeps raising the bar.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In the nineteenth Burke novel, convicted rapist John Wychek, released from prison on a technicality, is shot. Before losing consciousness, he implicates Eva Wolfe, the attorney who put him behind bars. Wolfe now works the edges of the system to assist the exploited victims of sex crimes the official bureaucracy can't--or won't--help. Her efforts have taken her to the murky underworld in which Burke eliminates predators--sexual or otherwise. Burke sets about gathering the evidence to free her but finds that Wychek is a key player in a larger scam involving powerful people. Burke, with an assist from his not-so-merry band, hatches a plan of his own to erase Wychek and his accomplices from the game. This is yet another carefully crafted descent into a hellish environment in which sexual predators roam virtually unchecked, at least until targeted by Burke. One would think the same revenge plot would get old when recast again and again, but, amazingly, Vachss adds enough subtle differences to keep each novel unique and engaging. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Series: Burke Novels
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; New title edition (April 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400041732
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400041732
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,327,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 vachss.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Andrew Vachss' stories about Burke have covered a lot of ground since I started reading them. The early novels were deeply tortured, tales of an anti-hero scarred down to his core by a legacy of pain and abuse. Surrounding Burke are the members of his 'true' family. All children of the 'secret,' all people driven to living on the fringes of society, all finding meaning in their shared companionship. In this world Burke is both feared and loved. Loved for his fierce loyalty to those he shares a bond with, and fired by those who have made abuse a landmark in the corridors of darkness.
Burke is inteliigent, but not an intellect. He has friends like the Professor and the Mole for that. But he is street smart to the nth degree. While no longer the automatically violent character of the early novels, Burke has no qualms about the use of violence when his version of justice requires it. Down Here is a novel of complex interlocking plots, but the edge is still there as he searches for a way to unravel a plot to frame Wolfe, a woman he has long admired, for shooting a serial rapist she once convicted, who has now gone free on a technicality.
The more Burke digs into the accusations and the stonewalling by the district attorney's office, the clearer it becomes that there is more involved than the accusations against Wolfe. The FBI has become involved, as well as white supremacists and terrorists. Wolfe is a pawn in a deeper game. And while she fights to beat the case against her, it is not all that clear that she welcomes Burke's involvement.
To me, Down Here marks Burke's real return to the city and his friends. Previously, right after he returned from his 'trip' to the West Coast, his membership in New York's underground felt awkward and stilted.
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Format: Hardcover
It's difficult to believe that Down Here is the fifteenth novel about Burke, that grown-up "Child of the Secret" who lives across the border that separates the normal world from the world of lawlessness and violence. The novels read more like one lengthy, continuing story, each book another chapter in the story arc of Burke's life. Some chapters are naturally more interesting than others, but all have been well worth reading, and Down Here is one of the more effective ones. There is a power to Vachss's writing that sustains and nourishes the reader during even the most procedural of scenes, and there are a great many of those here. That's only natural, however, since Burke is put in the situation of investigator. The woman he deeply admires and possibly loves, Wolfe, is a former sex crimes prosecutor who has been accused of attempted murder by a convicted multiple rapist now free on a technicality. Burke takes it upon himself and his colorful crew to prove Wolfe's innocence, but once that's done, there are still more puzzles to be solved and links to be made. The plot is primarily that of discovery, and it's to Vachss's credit as a writer that the process never becomes boring. Interest is maintained by his icy prose style, the never less than fascinating characters, and the viewpoint of Burke himself, who, in an ethically ambiguous situation, pimps himself, initiating an affair with the rapist's sister, an artfully drawn businesswoman of whom Burke grows fond. The core of Burke's "family" is present - Mama, Max the Silent, the Prof, Michelle, the Mole, and the adopted offspring Terry and Clarence. They're their usual helpful selves, except when they want to help themselves to some money.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
The best thing about this book (next to the return of all Vachss' terrific characters) is the twisted plot. Forget about the standardized gumshoe pap that passes for mystery/suspense nowadays; Vachss knows how to keep the reader guessing. I have been waiting restlessly for the next Burke book to come out, and this one is *well* worth it.
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Format: Hardcover
Well, at least Burke is back in New York City with his family (Mama, Max the Silent, the Professor, Michelle, the Mole, Clarence and Terry). That's a beginning! In the newest novel by Andrew Vachss, DOWN HERE, Burke has to come to the aid of Wolfe, a woman who is a former prosecutor of sex crimes for the DA's office and someone our slightly tarnished hero has loved for a long time. A sexual predator that Wolfe put away is now back on the streets. The only problem is that some unknown assailant put three bullets into him, and the freak is claiming that it was Wolfe doing the shooting. When Wolfe is arrested and charged with attempted murder, her friends quickly approach Burke for help. For Burke, this is his chance to show Wolfe just how much he truly cares for her. He immediately calls in his family for assistance and draws up a battle plan for getting Wolfe out of jail and proving her innocence. I have to admit to actually getting goose bumps of excitement about twenty pages into the book, thinking that Burke and Max the Silent were going to go ballistic in their attempt to save Wolfe. Unfortunately, that didn't take place. Basically what happened is that the family helped Burke to investigate the freak's background and his victims in an effort to find out why he lied about the person who shot him. Burke does a lot of meetings, driving around, interviewing, telephoning, worrying, and little else. By the last sixty pages of the book, I was trying not to fall asleep with boredom. Even Wolfe was telling Burke that he was no longer needed. Still, as in ONLY CHILD, it was great to have Burke back in his natural habitat with his family of choice.Read more ›
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