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Andrew Vachss
"Lord of the asphalt jungle." —Washington Post
A Burke Novel

Andrew Vachss Dead and Gone

Mystery | Hardcover | Knopf | Sept 2000 | $25.00 | Andrew Vachss | Excerpt | Buy

It's not an unusual job for Burke—ex-con, career criminal, and ultimate urban man-for-hire—to act as middleman in an exchange of cash for a kidnapped child. But this time the only things exchanged are bullets. Burke loses his beloved partner, and lies in a hospital bed close to—or maybe even past—death, hovering in a netherworld of nightmares and hallucinations. When he finally escapes from the hospital, his appearance has changed radically—and so has he.

Burke's religion is revenge, and he is eager to begin worship. Without the slightest clue as to who ordered the hit, he goes back to his original contact. When that meeting ends in homicide, Burke goes even deeper underground than ever before. He vanishes off every radar screen, and starts his hunt. In order to connect the dots, Burke enlists the aid of a pilot he worked with during the war in Biafra, a Russian-speaking Cambodian woman named Gem, and a mystical childhood friend—the police would call him a "co-defendant"—who finds patterns where others see chaos. Burke's search starts in Chicago and ends in the Pacific Northwest—a foreign country to the New York City-bred orphan.

When a pattern finally emerges, Burke discovers truly foreign territory—a place where pedophiles, neo-Nazis, abortion clinic bombers, and kiddie porn manufacturers expect immunity from prosecution, a safe harbor for predatory degenerates. And when he learns who is running the show, Burke must call upon a lifetime of training in the dark arts to do what he does best: survive.

Stunning in its execution, shocking in its conclusion, Dead and Gone gives us a new Burke, trapped out of his element—and more dangerous than ever.

From Booklist

Burke, the ex-con protector of children, accepts a job as the middleman in a ransom exchange; his assignment is to drop the money and return a child, missing for 10 years, to his parents. But it isn't really an exchange; it's a setup to kill Burke; and it almost works. Burke's beloved companion, a Neopolitan mastiff named Pansy, is killed, and Burke himself winds up near death in a hospital bed (his assassins believe he has died). After a long recuperative period, secreted away in the womb of his adopted "family" of cons, arms dealers, and assassins, Burke forges a single-minded plan for revenge, beginning with the Russian gangster who brokered the deal. With the aid of Gem, a beautiful Cambodian refugeee who speaks Russian, and Byron, a mercenary whose life Burke saved in Biafra, Burke confronts a bizarre international cadre of degenerates who prey on children and have hatched a plan to buy themselves immunity by establishing their own country on a remote island. The left-for-dead-but-back-for-revenge plot is an old one, but Vachss manages to give it new life. Burke isn't quite as dark as he's been in the past, finding time to wax poetic on Chicago bluesman Son Seals and to discuss hot cars with other gear heads. But the message is the same: no mercy for the exploiters of children. Vachss—in real life, an advocate and attorney for children—spreads his message effectively through the ever dangerous, relentless Burke. Crime fiction with a powerful moral.

—Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Andrew Vachss has been a federal investigator in sexually transmitted diseases, a social caseworker, and a labor organizer, and has directed a maximum-security prison for youthful offenders. Currently a lawyer in private practice, he represents children and youths exclusively. He is the author of more than a dozen novels, two collections of short stories, three graphic series and Another Chance to Get It Right A Children's Book for Adults. His work has appeared in Parade, Antaeus, Esquire, the New York Times, and many other forums.

Still Fighting the Holy War

Andrew Vachss delivers another graphic tale of the underground in an entertaining yet educational manner. His dialogue and story are so good that you can see the movie in your head vividly and it stays with you in your dreams. Vachss is an artist and a warrior trying to save your children from the scourge by introducing you to the worst of the bad. Read it! Enjoy it! Learn from it!

Reviewer: J. Stasinos
September 12, 2000

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