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Down in the Zero Paperback – Jul 4 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (July 4 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679760660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679760665
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 231 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,000,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In his seventh outing, Burke, Vachss's flinty ex-con and relentless crusader for abused kids last featured in Sacrifice , is still reeling after having killed a kid in a previous case gone sour. Here, he leaves his underground detective network headquartered in Manhattan's Chinatown for a rarified Connecticut suburb shaken by a series of teen suicides. Burke is hired to protect Randy, a listless high school grad whose absent, jet-setting mother did a favor for Burke years ago when she was a cocktail waitress in London and he a clandestine government soldier en route to Biafra. Still haunted by his experience in the African jungle and his encounter there with the suicidal tug of the abyss--the eponymous "zero"--Burke plunges into his plush surroundings with the edgy vindictiveness of a cold-war mercenary, uncovering a ring of blackmail and surveillance, a sinister pattern of psychiatric experimentation based at a local hospital and a sadomasochistic club frequented by twin sisters named Charm and Fancy. Vachss's seething, macho tale of upper-crust corruption is somewhat contrived and takes a gratuitously nasty slant toward its female characters.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Here is yet another hard-core novel in the author's series of fictional battles against child abuse amidst sleaze, slime, and the nearly surreal. Burke, who was last seen in Sacrifice (Knopf, 1991), is now confronted with young adult suicides and sexual blackmail in an affluent Connecticut suburb. Hired to watch the young son of a former lover, Burke is drawn into a bizarre situation populated by characters almost as strange as his friends. The suicides and the sadomasochistic sex, which are weirdly connected, force Burke to enlist his usual cohorts. Fans will want this crisply written work, but those not familiar with the bizarre characters who make up Burke's circle may be confused. Purchase where the series is popular.
Robert H. Donahugh, formerly with Youngstown & Mahoning Cty. P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
There comes a time in the life of every vigilante where stock must be taken, where the actions of the past finally catch up, either literally or metaphorically. Burke is at such a crossroads: he's completely immobilized by a recent event, unable to function, or even care. Burke is looking down in the zero, into the abyss, and it beckons him with its silence.
Burke, for the uninitiated, is the protagonist of many novels of Andrew Vachss. Burke is a denizen of the world's underbelly, a man who has a code of honour all of his own, and a particular blinding hatred for any person who would prey on children. Burke is not a nice man, but he will get results. And DOWN IN THE ZERO provides him yet another opportunity to dispense his own unique form of justice.
DOWN begins with Burke at perhaps his lowest point: he has recently (albeit accidentally) caused the death of a child. He is crushed, depressed, and on the edge, and even the caring ministrations of his usual cadre of oddly endearing individuals (the Mole, the Prof, Mama, andthe transvestite Michelle) cannot rouse him from his depths. It takes a phone call from the son of a past acquaintance, relating a bizarre tale of an epidemic of teenage suicides in a Connecticut suburb, to stir him into action. That, and the possibility of easy money from the area's rich inhabitants.
Let's face it, the Burke series will never be accused of subtlety. It is violent, profane, and rather misogynist in its appeal. It advocates self-justice to the Law, and is inherently distrustful of the legal system. But Vachss (who also acts as an attorney exclusively for youth) writes with fury and passion: he's the leaner, meaner brother of Jim Thompson, if such a thing is possible.
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Format: Paperback
By "Dark Side," I don't mean the occult. Real-life attorney Vachss has an intimate grasp on all that that is offensive to the majority of us who live quiet, (semi-)organized lives. We gasp and recoil at the real-life occurrence of a brutal act by one human against another. The world of Vachss is the opposite. Therein we are non-plussed by an act of kindness. His world is real; it is simply a world that most of us chose to deny the existence of. (<-Dangling participle - sorry!) Vachss' fictional characters and situations are damn close to reality. And it's often tough to take.
In this latest outing, Vachss takes his main character, Burke, to the upper class suburbs to fulfill a longstanding "debt." Burke, an abandoned and abused former ward of the state, (both in childhood and occasionally in adulthood) is a urban survivalist, con artist and city animal. He is also presently mourning his "accidental" killing of a small child. (I told you it was tough stuff to take!) But he adapts to this new, ritzy environment as only a true survivor can. (Vachss' fans will recall that he pulled this off before, in exurban Indiana, in "Blossom.") And, as always, he solves the underlying crisis through a combination of detective work, technological assistance, sheer bravado and unrelenting violence.
The common theme to all Burke novels is moral outrage. Once Vachss has overwhelmed us with the horror of the situation (and it always involves the sexual and physical abuse of children), we applaud his character as a vengeful angel. Burke consciously believes that he does what he does for the money. Nonsense. He's driven by the demons of his own abusive upbringing. And I wouldn't want him "cured' for the world...
Keep writing 'em, Andrew. I'll keep reading them and recommending them.
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Format: Paperback
Those who have not read anything by Andrew Vachss have missed out on one of the really original voices in contemporary mystery writing. His recurring hero, Burke, has a shadowy past and an even more shadowy collection of friends and 'family'. The writing style is spare, the atmosphere is tense and the plots tend to emphasize a combination of quick violence and brooding psychological insights.
In Down in the Zero, Burke moves to somewhat unfamiliar territory in tackling the mystery of a rash of teen suicides. The action, while less ugly than in many of Vachss books, is typically emotionally charged. Burke is a unique hero - sensitive, flawed and competently violent when need be.
If you've never read Vachss and enjoy thrillers with a dark edge, give this one a try. It might give you a taste for more - and he has seven or eight Burke novels, all deserving of attention.
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By A Customer on Aug. 2 1997
Format: Paperback
I first picked up Andrew Vachss because I heard
his name mentioned in connection with Batman.
Figuring it was going to be fiction in the Raymond
Chandler vein, I picked up one of his books.
Needless to say, the hard steel nightmare that
Burke and his "family" live through daily floored
me.
Down In the Zero is a very good book in that we
get more of an insight on Burke. Vachss refers to
events in other novels; it helps if you read the
whole series in order. We get an insight into Burke's
soul that is both entrancing and disturbing.
This isn't a poetic book, and Burke is not a
likable person. The entire novel is told from
Burke's point of view, that of a hardened, callous
criminal. And any poetry would get in the way.
The novel is sharp, quick, and to the point. The
cutting edge of detective fiction, well worth
reading.
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