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Pain Management: A Burke Novel Hardcover – September 25, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (September 25, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375413227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375413223
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,191,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

When last encountered (2000's Dead and Gone), 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. --Michael Hudson

From Library Journal

Fans of Vachss will be thrilled to see that Burke is back in action. Presumed dead after an assassination attempt in Dead and Gone, Burke has gone into hiding in Oregon with his partner, Gem, who calls herself his wife. Biding his time in the hope of eventually making it back to New York, he takes on the task of tracking down a runaway teenage girl. As he scours the streets of New YorkBurke stumbles upon a clandestine society that illegally obtains prescription drugs for people suffering from extreme pain. Believing that they may ultimately hold the key to finding the runaway, he reluctantly agrees to help them obtain a stash of a revolutionary new drug. As Burke becomes drawn into the society's cause, what he finds instead is that he must deal with his own "pain management." Even though he has taken Burke out of his usual surroundings, Vachss has written another winner. For larger fiction collections. Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on November 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
I think that _Blue Belle_ was the first Vachss novel that I tried, and after reading that I ripped through his subsequent novels with a sense of discovery and pleasure. To be honest, I lost that interest and amazement a number of books ago. While the first book set in Oregon gave me a glimmer of new hope, this book really isn't there either.
A lot of the problem is that what made Burke so interesting in the first few books was the very real tension between light and dark in the character. He was constantly in balance, and the nastiness made for a really refreshing read after all the weaker characters that you find in detective novels today. Unfortunately, Burke has been around too long, and he's just too much a defender to really believe in the Dark Knight anymore. He's taken on too many good causes and acted too much as protector of the helpless. Good thing in a person, less good if you want to keep the tension of someone strung between good and evil. I'm sure that the continuing novels serve Vachss' not-so-hidden agenda of educating his audience, but they just aren't as interesting to read at this point.
I'm a little troubled with myself for writing this kind of review, as I recognize that there are larger issues with these books than a good escapist read. I applaud Vacchs' determination in the work he does for children and I think he's chosen a nearly ideal vehicle for getting his messages out.
I just wish that I had the same compulsion to read Burke novels as I did with the first.
Anyways, this book (Burke tries to ignore his problematic relationship with Gem, while taking on the case of a 16-year old runaway) is well-written and will probably appeal. Still worth a read, in any case.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "rmm33462" on September 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Burke is back on the job, scamming, stealing and doing what he does best: tracking a missing girl who may be running from a pain no one can imagine--except Burke. All while out of his native New York and without the protection of his family of choice. New friends and enemies abound in this "not always what it seems" story of betrayal and risk taking, that finds Burke trying to operate in a very different Portland than the tour guides depict.
The search for the missing girl, Rosebud, is the obvious, but along the way are twists and turns that could cost Burke his freedom, and maybe even his life. Great characters, both new and old, bring a seemingly straight-forward story to life. But Vachss never fails to add an unexpected element to their motivations or their personal pain. Are the girl's parents being honest for why they want Rosebud back so badly? Who is the chameleon-like Ann O. Dyne ... friend or foe? And what of Gem, the woman who calls herself Burke's wife, is her past going to destroy Burke's future?
More mystery than some of his previous outings, Vachss has done a fantastic job of weaving a story that you won't be able to put down. Definitely a must for Burke and Vachss fans and anyone else who wants a sharp, well-written and stunning in its conclusion story by one of the masters of the crime-fiction genre.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rose Dawn Scott on September 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Long-time readers of Andrew Vachss's "Burke" series have come to expect certain things from the series, and "Pain Management" certainly delivers. As always, there's intriguing storyline, with Burke's search for a runaway teen bringing him into contact with vividly-depicted "minor" characters so true to life you might swear you'd met some of them, helping or hindering his tracking efforts for reasons of their own. Vachss fans have also come to expect unflinching social commentary delivered deadpan - and dead-on - by Burke, and they'll not be disappointed.

As the threads of the story converge, Burke and the reader are drawn into the world of "pain management," in the form of a group of citizen-outlaws made fanatical through personal experience with suffering, and with being powerless to stop it...and in the form of runaway/throwaway street kids and the hangarounds seeking to help them or use them.

A unifying subtext throughout is family, with the interactions of individual groups, traditional "nuclear" families as well as fiercely-bonded packs of strays making statements about loyalty and and trust, and security on many levels.

It's an amazing book, and long-time readers who feel they've come to know Burke over the course of 13 books may be in for some surprises. New readers are in for a treat, and will be able to dive right in - the "backstory" is a coast away, haunting and shaping Burke in ways readily understandable to any reader who has ever loved loved someone, and missed them.

Prepare to be blown away.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By jack olsen on September 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Here comes Burke again, as resourceful, violent, tough, single-minded, stubborn and vengeful as ever, and always on the side of the angels (although it's not always easy to tell!). There has never been a more readable crime series or a more compelling protagonist. Don't look for the cliches of crime writing -- bam! wham! bang! bop! Subtlety and nuance abound in the work of Andrew Vachss, and there is always meaning behind his meaning. Every time I think Vachss and his work have topped out, he exceeds himself again.
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