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.