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Only Child: A Burke Novel Hardcover – October 8, 2002
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Andrew Vachss's series hero, an outlaw vigilante named Burke, is on the trail of the man who murdered the teenage daughter of a Mafioso whose secret affairs with a black woman and a gay crime boss make Tony Soprano's sub rosa relationship with his psychiatrist seem inconsequential. More accustomed to committing crimes than investigating them, Burke comes out of retirement and reunites with his New York family, a group of criminals who join him in a clever ruse to unmask the killer. The circuitous trail eventually leads to an underground filmmaker whose disturbing brand of noir vérité was responsible for the girl's death; as usual, Burke metes out vengeance with a steady hand. As usual, Vachss turns in a suitably dark, violent thriller with a strong narrative drive and an explosive conclusion. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
"Sherlock Holmes is dead," intones Giovanni, a New York Mafia boss who hires street criminal Burke-who's made a career of killing child murderers and molesters-to solve the murder of his illegitimate teenage daughter, Vonni. Indeed, the whole Vachss oeuvre (this is the 14th novel to feature the avenging angel Burke) is a reminder that Conan Doyle's fictional sleuth would be clueless in the violent, sordid world of today's hard-boiled mystery. Burke doesn't search for clues so much as extort them by combining street smarts, his formidable intelligence and a deeply rooted outrage at the victimization of the young. Burke's fans will be delighted that he's returned to his home turf-the gritty back streets of New York City-where he's welcomed into the bosom of his ragtag band of delinquent colleagues. The novel has a compelling plot line (like a police procedural without the police), but the narrative is far from seamless. There are a couple of false starts as Burke searches for something to occupy his time, and the references to earlier novels will probably baffle newcomers. More seriously, the elaborate ruse Burke executes to identify and trap the killer is barely credible. But the noirish prose (a man's eyes are "the color of old dimes") is a pleasure, and Burke is an antihero of the old school. Though it doesn't break new artistic ground for Vachss, the book is another harrowing glimpse of the urban underworld from an author who clearly knows his terrain and whose sympathy for the truly innocent-the children-is unstinting.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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