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Down Here: A Burke Novel Hardcover – Apr 13 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; New title edition (April 13 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400041732
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400041732
  • Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 2.8 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 608 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,347,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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