Another Life is the final chapter of the Burke series -- I've always viewed the entire series as analogous to a single book, with each novel representing a chapter in Burke's story. If you've been a fan of the series, you will of course want to read this book; nobody sets down an engrossing read with the last chapter untouched. You won't be sorry. Burke, and the series, leave our lives on a high (or rather, hopeful) note. The conclusion may or may not leave you reeling, but it's guaranteed to leave you *thinking*.
It seems to me that Vachss' novels always have two simultaneous "themes" -- there are the action points, what most reviewers will tell you the book is "about" -- and then the slightly more subtle, infinitely more meaningful underlying thesis. On one level, Another Life is about Burke agreeing to look for the abducted toddler son of a Saudi royal in exchange for medical care for the Prof, clinging to life after being shot in the last chapter, and a clean slate for other Family-of-Choice members. Another (chance to continue the same) Life. At its heart, though, AL is a book about the things we do, the lengths we will go to, for "those who come after."
I'd heard a couple folks say this book was "predictable," and that frankly surprises me. Burke is in no way an impromptu type of individual, he plans everything he does down to the last detail. He doesn't *want* surprises, and those who've taken this journey with him all the way are likely justified in feeling we know how Burke will react to many given situations. This is where the surprise (on my part) came in. Vachss has written before in the series about people who "do the right thing for the wrong reason," and neither Burke nor Vachss has any problem with that. What I never really expected Burke -- or Vachss -- to address is the other side of that "intent" coin, those who do the *wrong* thing, but do it for the *right* reason, with the best of intentions, hoping to create something better but going terribly wrong. There are two specific instances of that in AL, and they're closely entwined.
Burke's core Family all work with him on this one, along with many characters who've made appearances over the course of the series, so we get a chance to say goodbye to our favorites, both old and newer. As the parent of a fellow adult, I was deeply touched by the themes of growing, moving on ... letting go. When you've put in the work, the day will come when it's time to stand aside and let your kids go to make their own lives, find their own worlds. This book is "about" fathers, and mothers, sons and daughters. It's "about" Family, what we do to make one, the lengths we go to to keep them safe, and (if the job was done right), the bittersweet feeling of seeing them move on being overwhelmed and subsumed by the pride we feel while watching them go.
When I read the last page and closed the book, I felt almost exactly the same way I felt at the end of Shella. So, my own personal response to the question "What is Burke going to do next?" is: He's going to pick up his jacket.