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

Andrew Vachss NYC 1988
Photo: Anders Askegaard

Mystery | Crime | Trade Paperback | Jan 2001 | $12.00 | Andrew Vachss

"Baby Boy Burke" it says on his birth certificate—Father Unknown. Raised in a series of foster homes, orphanages and "reform" schools, and viciously abused in each. Two prison terms and a lifetime later, Burke is still an outlaw: an urban survivalist who doesn't exist on paper, working the jagged edges of the criminal underworld. He's a man for hire, but you have to earn the right to trust him.

The dark heart of six previous novels by Andrew Vachss—FLOOD, STREGA, BLUE BELLE, HARD CANDY, BLOSSOM, and SACRIFICE—Burke's earned the title "lord of the asphalt jungle" (Washington Post). And now, after the hiatus of three years, he's back.

Still mourning the death of a child whose life he took instead of saved, Burke feels the pull of the Zero—the abyss that lies beyond death. Alone with his sorrow, he's been quiet for a long time when he gets the phone call. It's from a kid named Randy claiming to be the son of a woman Burke once knew, and still owes. The kid's plush Connecticut suburb has been hit with a rash of inexplicable teenage "suicides." He's sure he could be next and he wants a bodyguard. Burke's no professional bullet-catcher, but he goes along for two reasons: Randy's mother did save him a prison stretch years ago. And the kid's neighborhood is lousy with cash.

Lousy with other things too. Burke quickly discovers that the picture-perfect community hides the nerve center of an intense erotic underground where S&M sex is sold, traded....and recorded. As Burke moves down the pipeline to where the cluster suicides began, he finds himself in wealthy homes where the term "emotional abuse" takes euphemism to new heights—depths.

And when a beautiful dominatrix with an ugly secret introduces him to a hideous new version of "legal" kiddie porn, Burke's rage drags him back from the Zero's edge and into a shadowy war with barely visible, shape-shifting enemies.

Consumed by grave-dancing with his own demons, Burke is quickly cornered. But his trappers are about to discover exactly what kind of quarry they've got....

Acclaim for Andrew Vachss

"Deliciously scummy....His bad guys are memorably heinous."

Washington Post Book World

"[Vachss'] short sharp sentences crackly with energy; his plots are satisfyingly elaborate; the narraties are beautifully paced, and the characters...are always pungently individual."

Chicago Sun Times

"The characters and events are as sharply defined as if they were etched in steel. The prose is short and choppy, like the ticking of a time bomb about to explode."

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"The writing is awesomely brutal."

Sunday Times

"Vachss writes like a cold switchblade....full of extraordinary and powerful imagery."

Time Out

Down In The Zero hc A Burke novel by Andrew Vachss
ISBN 0-679-43328-7 | 1994
Knopf hard cover edition
Down In The Zero UK Tpb Ed A Burke novel by Andrew Vachss
ISBN 0-679-76066-0 | 1995
Pan Books edition
Down In The Zero tp A Burke novel by Andrew Vachss
ISBN 0-679-76066-0 | 1995
Vintage Crime edition

Andrew Vachss has reinvented detective fiction for an age in which guilty secrets are obsolete and murder isn't even worth a news headline. And in the person of his haunted, hell-ridden private eye Burke, Vachss has given us a new kind of hero: a man inured to every evil except the kind that preys on children.

Now Burke is back, investigating an epidemic of apparent suicides among the teenagers of a wealthy Connecticut suburb. There he discovers a sinister connection between the anguish of the young and the activities of an elite sadomasochist underground, for whom pain and its accompanying rituals are a source of pleasure—and power.

"Oozes with primal emotions...There is absolutely nobody like Burke—not even close."

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Burke is one of the most cold-blooded yet strangely honorable heroes in the history of crime fiction, an outlaw who makes his living preying on the most vicious of New York City's bottom-feeders, those who thrive on the suffering of children.

In Andrew Vachss' tautly engrossing novel Burke is given a purse full of dirty money to find the infamous Ghost Van that is cutting a lethal swath among the teenage prostitutes in the 'hood. He also gets help in the form of a stripper named Belle, whose moves on the runway are outclassed only by what she can do in a getaway car. But not even Burke is prepared for the evil that is behind the Ghost Van or for the sheer menace of it's guardian, a cadaverous karate expert who enjoys killing so much he has named himself after death.

Hard Looks Mirror Cover
mirror collection.
Containing 20 of the illustrated
comics stories
from the series
written by Andrew Vachss.
240 pgs - $17.95 U.S.

Read Laurence Shames interview with Andrew Vachss
for the February 1986 edition of Playboy.

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