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Down Here: A Burke Novel [Hardcover]

Andrew Vachss
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 13 2004 Burke Novels
Bone-crushing impact, set in a milieu that clogs your lungs and stings your eyes, Down Here is the penetrating and remarkable new thriller from the master of American noir.
For many years, Burke has carried a torch for Wolfe, the beautiful, driven former sex crimes prosecutor who was fired for refusing to "go along to get along." They share a marrow-deep hatred of predators but walk different sides of the street when it comes to justice. So when Burke hears that Wolfe has been arrested for attempted murder, he knows something is double-wrong–and deals himself in.

Putting together a distrustful alliance between his “family of choice,” Wolfe's outlaw network, and an informant inside the police department, Burke starts with the alleged victim, a brutal serial rapist Wolfe had personally prosecuted. He's back on the street because his conviction was reversed, and any of his long list of victims has plenty of motive to kill him. The deeper Burke gets into the investigation, the more holes he finds in the case against Wolfe. Yet the DA's office continues to press forward, and Burke has to find out what their game is. No stranger to devil's bargains, Burke reopens the rape investigations–his way–and discovers an artist whose violent work in progress is a whole city’s nightmare.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Burke is back with a vengeance, and with the full complement of underground irregulars who've populated his dozen or so previous noir adventures. For starters, there's Max the Silent and the Prof (short for both Professor and Prophet), Pepper, Mole and Michelle, street folks all, as well as the giant menacing rottweiler known as Bruiser, who protects the beautiful crime fighter Wolfe. No series offers a richer world of night people, or one as dark and brutal. For the Burke fan, plot becomes almost secondary to the immersion into Vachss's thrillingly seductive downtown Manhattan shadow land. But this installment has a terrific hook as well: Burke and company must come to the rescue when Wolfe, a righteous former prosecutor specializing in sex crimes, is framed for the attempted murder of one of the serial perps she once put away, a lowlife named John Anson Wychek. Vachss's prose is at its brittle best in his presentation of the case against the taciturn Wolfe, as well as Wychek's criminal past. At length, Burke learns that Wychek inexplicably has federal protection, and conceives an elaborate scam to snare him. Posing as reporter pal J.P. Hauser, Burke works his way into the life of Wychek's yuppie sister, Laura. This extended cat-and-mouse game (or perhaps Burke is falling in love?) has quiet depth as well as tension. Burke's an original, often imitated but never matched because Vachss keeps raising the bar.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In the nineteenth Burke novel, convicted rapist John Wychek, released from prison on a technicality, is shot. Before losing consciousness, he implicates Eva Wolfe, the attorney who put him behind bars. Wolfe now works the edges of the system to assist the exploited victims of sex crimes the official bureaucracy can't--or won't--help. Her efforts have taken her to the murky underworld in which Burke eliminates predators--sexual or otherwise. Burke sets about gathering the evidence to free her but finds that Wychek is a key player in a larger scam involving powerful people. Burke, with an assist from his not-so-merry band, hatches a plan of his own to erase Wychek and his accomplices from the game. This is yet another carefully crafted descent into a hellish environment in which sexual predators roam virtually unchecked, at least until targeted by Burke. One would think the same revenge plot would get old when recast again and again, but, amazingly, Vachss adds enough subtle differences to keep each novel unique and engaging. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars All In The Family July 3 2004
Andrew Vachss' stories about Burke have covered a lot of ground since I started reading them. The early novels were deeply tortured, tales of an anti-hero scarred down to his core by a legacy of pain and abuse. Surrounding Burke are the members of his 'true' family. All children of the 'secret,' all people driven to living on the fringes of society, all finding meaning in their shared companionship. In this world Burke is both feared and loved. Loved for his fierce loyalty to those he shares a bond with, and fired by those who have made abuse a landmark in the corridors of darkness.
Burke is inteliigent, but not an intellect. He has friends like the Professor and the Mole for that. But he is street smart to the nth degree. While no longer the automatically violent character of the early novels, Burke has no qualms about the use of violence when his version of justice requires it. Down Here is a novel of complex interlocking plots, but the edge is still there as he searches for a way to unravel a plot to frame Wolfe, a woman he has long admired, for shooting a serial rapist she once convicted, who has now gone free on a technicality.
The more Burke digs into the accusations and the stonewalling by the district attorney's office, the clearer it becomes that there is more involved than the accusations against Wolfe. The FBI has become involved, as well as white supremacists and terrorists. Wolfe is a pawn in a deeper game. And while she fights to beat the case against her, it is not all that clear that she welcomes Burke's involvement.
To me, Down Here marks Burke's real return to the city and his friends. Previously, right after he returned from his 'trip' to the West Coast, his membership in New York's underground felt awkward and stilted.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Entry in a Groundbreaking Series May 24 2004
The power of Andrew Vachss's writing and the appeal of Burke, his urban outlaw/vigilante protagonist, has seldom been on better display than in DOWN HERE, the fifteenth entry in this groundbreaking series. Like Burke, Vachss has a driving passion to squeeze off the poison being pumped into the veins of our society by predatory abusers of the young and weak, and these books are a vehicle for delivering his messages and their lessons. It is Vachss's passion and commitment that keep the series so vibrant, and his skills as a writer --- the lean, spare prose, the on-the-mark characterizations, the wincing realism --- that make them so damned readable.
DOWN HERE is more is more a straightforward tale of deduction and discovery than earlier books in the series. Burke --- back from the "dead", returned to the fold of his "family" of choice, once again prowling the streets and shadow-worlds of New York City --- is on a mission to prove the innocence of Wolfe, former sex crimes prosecutor, now falsely accused of the attempted murder of a vicious serial rapist freed on a technicality. Burke's long-smoldering though unrequited love for Wolfe pushes him to pursue this proof past the understanding of those closest to him, past the wishes of even Wolfe, perhaps past Burke's own understanding as well. This relentless, beyond-reason, beyond-profit motive quest manages to humanize Burke to a degree we haven't seen before. What's more, we find him to be a somewhat more subdued Burke than in the past. Subdued like a napping pit bull. When it counts, he is as focused and methodical and grimly determined as ever.
The plot of DOWN HERE is tight, the ending solid with a timely, unnerving twist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Sure Winner --- I Could Not Put This One Down! May 16 2004
DOWN HERE starts off like a winning horse out of the gate at the Sweepstakes Race. Andrew Vachss really knows how to set the hook. Consider this opening:
"Somebody down here, boss. Asking for you." Gateman's voice, prison-whispering to me up the intercom. ... "You get a name?" I asked.
"Pepper, right?" I heard him say to the visitor.
"Short girl, pretty, dark hair, kilowatt smile?" I asked.
"All but the last, boss," Gateman said. "And she's got company."
"What's he --?"
"It's a dog, boss. Big-ass Rottweiler."
That's when I knew the wheels had come off.
For several years now, Burke --- Gateman's "boss" --- has been believed dead by all but a discreet circle of people. Now his visitor, Pepper, brings him news that draws him to the surface once again. She explains that Wolfe, ex-prosecutor and long-time object of Burke's infatuation, has been arrested for attempted murder. The victim? None other than John Anson Wychek, a serial rapist Wolfe tried to put away, but whose conviction was overturned.
With no time to waste, Burke springs to action, assembling his motley crew: the Prof (short for the Professor or the Prophet, depending on your viewpoint), Max the Silent, Burke's little sister Michelle, and Mama, proprietress of a restaurant that does more than double as a front for Burke's strategizing sessions. A woman of few words, Mama does a formidable job of cooking and assessing situations.
Burke's entourage snaps to work interviewing Wychek's victims, looking for common threads. In addition to receiving a mysterious postcard recently, there are other similarities to their cases.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Burke is back in the neighborhood
Rebeccasreads recommends Burke's latest incarnation as he sets out not only to prove the beautiful Wolfe innocent of attempted murder, he wants to skewer the creep Wycheck &... Read more
Published on July 13 2004 by Rebecca Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but the ending was weak
Burke, as always, is a fascinating character. This book kept me turning the pages but the ending was hard to swallow. Read more
Published on June 22 2004 by Robert I. Katz
4.0 out of 5 stars A kindlier, gentler Burke?
Burke is lost without his dog Pansy. But he is doing better.
If you would like to see how he has changed, go back to Hard Candy or Blossom. Read more
Published on June 14 2004 by A Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER EXCEPTIONAL "BURKE" NOVEL ...
In DOWN HERE, the 15th book in Andrew Vachss' extremely popular "Burke" series, Mr. Vachss' protagonist, Burke, finds himself trying to unravel the complicated strands of... Read more
Published on May 19 2004 by Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Entry In An Outstanding Series
Andrew Vachss is a unique voice in American literature. This is another solid entry in the Burke series and provides a lot of what I have loved about reading this stuff for 16... Read more
Published on May 19 2004 by Stew J. Weldon
2.0 out of 5 stars A lesser entry
Anticlimatic to a fault. The dialogue is smooth and the reading flows easily, but the ending is a serious let down. Much ado about nothing.
Published on May 14 2004 by John Bowes
5.0 out of 5 stars The only thing more scary than Burke is real life
In "Down Here," Burke is dragged into investigating a crime that's being blamed on Wolfe, the stunning prosecutor-turned rogue by circumstances that never should have... Read more
Published on May 1 2004 by Rebekah Sue Harris
Well, at least Burke is back in New York City with his family (Mama, Max the Silent, the Professor, Michelle, the Mole, Clarence and Terry). That's a beginning! Read more
Published on April 30 2004 by Wayne C. Rogers
5.0 out of 5 stars Subdued and Soulful
The latest Burke novel is a little more mellow than some of the previous books of the series. Part of that is because Burke himself is a changed man, I suppose. Read more
Published on April 26 2004 by Ian Fowler
5.0 out of 5 stars Burke�s back in town
Eva Wolfe lost her job as sex-crimes prosecutor when she refused to let a politically protected offender get away with his crimes. Read more
Published on April 13 2004 by Harriet Klausner
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