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Safe House: A Burke Novel [Paperback]

Andrew Vachss
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 30 1999 Vintage Crime/Black Lizard

In Burke, Vachss gave readers of crime fiction a hero they could believe in, an avenger whose sense of justice was forged behind bars and tempered on New York's meanest streets.  In this blistering new thriller, Burke is drawn into his ugliest case yet, one that involves an underground network of abused women and the sleekly ingenious stalkers who've marked them as their personal victims. 
   Burke's client is Crystal Beth, a beautiful outlaw with a tattoo on her face and a mission burned into her heart.  She is trying to shield one of her charges from a vengeful ex with fetishes for Nazism and torture. But the stalker has a protector, someone so informed, so ruthless, and so connected that he need only make a few phone calls to shut down Crystal Beth's operation for good—and Burke along with it.  Sinuous in its complexities, brutal in its momentum, Safe House is Burke at the edge of his nerve and cunning.  And it's Vachss at the peak of his form.

Frequently Bought Together

Safe House: A Burke Novel + Choice of Evil: A Burke Novel
Price For Both: CDN$ 26.06

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Product Description

From Amazon

Safe House, the latest in Andrew Vachss's series of Burke novels, begins when Burke's "brother," Hercules, is paid to scare off a neo-nazi stalker and accidentally kills the wrong guy. Burke finds himself unwittingly drawn into a world of white supremacists, stalkers, and safe house networks. What ensues is an intense rush to cover Hercules' tracks and, at the same time, bring down a New York City white supremacy ring.

Safe House offers up Vachss's repertoire of repeat characters. The most fascinating are Burke's prison "family," the Prof, Max the silent, the Mole, Michelle, Clarence, Mama, and, of course, Burke himself, who is as hard-edged as ever. The family's willingness to help one another, even die for one another, is the emotional string that ties the books together. There are also two new female characters, Vyra, the affluent Jewish housewife and Crystal Beth, half Inuit, half Irish safe house madam. Though not as believable as their male counterparts, Vyra and Crystal Beth have powerful secrets of their own and add a soft, human element to the story.

Like other Vachss novels, Safe House embraces the dirty, grim life of the ex-con for hire. The most compelling aspect of Safe House is Vachss's no-holds-barred writing style. He spares nobody's feeling and minces no words in this rough, gritty and often painfully raw crime story. --Mara Friedman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Vachss has always been one of the best and most creative authors of the thriller genre, with characters that leap off the page and story lines that threaten to break the reader's heart (e.g., Blue Belle, LJ 10/1/88). But the present work, though basically well crafted, has only brief flashes of Vachss's fine talent. Burke befriends those involved in a women's shelter and finds rogue government agents and a neo-Nazi group that plans to blow up federal buildings. He saves the day with the help of his friends: mute Max, Chinese terror "Mama," genius Mole, "Baby Sister" Michelle, and, of course, his beloved mastiff, Pansy. But what is lacking here is the bite of Vachss's earlier works, the toughness and brutality that have won him so many fans. Buy this for diehards.
-?Alice DiNizo, Raritan P.L.,
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Dysfunctional Doc Savage has gotten old. May 1 2003
There's something mildly comforting about a new
Burke novel, because you should know what you're buying by now.
A twist on the hardboiled detective, an antihero with a heart
of pyrite, a hard exterior protecting a tough interior protecting
a broken inner child.
I've been in on the Burke novels since the first one, Flood,
was dropped in my lap. I kinda liked the half-assed detective
character, and I was willing to go along with Vachss' evolution
of the character and his environment, but this novel represents
a definitive "mining of the old".
It's just short of becoming a parody of itself, and I don't
like it. Vachss has stripped down his usual dialogue and
character interactions down to the bone; it's really as if he's
now writing these novels from a template, where he plugs in
the scenario and picks from the usual menu of plot devices.
Perhaps I'm simply tired of Burke's world. The Prof's rhyming
is truly awful now, and I no longer find it a simple thing to
suspend disbelief during most of the book. I think the only
character preserved from my broad brush happens to be Max,
and I suspect it's partly because he doesn't speak, but mostly,
because Vachss now treats him as a deus ex machina and as such,
he's mostly an object rather than a person.
<sigh> I know this is not good news for loyal readers. However,
I have to write 'em like I see 'em, and this world has run its
course. Perhaps Vachss will take some time off, re-examine
where Burke is and where should be, and come up with something
fresh. He needs it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Confusing Feb. 13 2003
This is another Burke story. Burke is a formidable man who has surrounded himself with a vast network of professionals. But Burke is a criminal and a highly organised one at that.
This story starts off with a favour for a fellow ex-con. The ex-con has accidentally killed an abusive husband whom he was supposed to be warning away from his battered wife. The story then quickly progresses to the safe house of the book's title and the battered women who are sheltered there. At first it appears that the rest of the book would be about Burke and his partners providing protection for these women, but before you know it, the focus shifts on to a neo-Nazi movement. With the constant changes of focus, I found the plot a little hard to follow as I tried to remember the motivation behind what was taking place.
This is hardboiled all the way as Burke displays a willingness to do just about anything as long as it means getting the job done. A little more attention to explaining what was going on and a little less to attitude would have gone a long way.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not that bad! Oct. 8 2000
The street word on this Burke novel was that it, like FALSE ALLEGATIONS and CHOICE OF EVIL, was spoiled by an excess of didacticism and a paucity of plot and action. When I finally located and read a copy, which was not easy, by the way, I found the word to be exaggerated.
There is indeed a plot, which blends white-supremacist movements with the societal problems of stalking and spousal abuse. To help out old friend Herk and new friend Crystal Beth, Burke and his "family" find themselves needing to murder a couple of bad guys in cold blood and put all their lives on the line to derail a plan to level a Federal building in NYC with half a dozen truckloads of explosives.
Burke finds himself working with an enigmatic undercover figure who calls himself Pryce, and who is multiply connected to the local and state police, and Feds, in extraordinary ways. There is a hint that Pryce may enter Burke's life again, once he gets a new face; let's hope he does.
In summary, this is another chilling Vachss tour of the underbelly of our society. If you have a strong stomach, it's a tour you won't regret taking.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Money Talks...B.S. Walks...and Vachss Writes! May 23 1999
By A Customer
A friend suggested that I read SAFE HOUSE, and now I am hooked. Just the picture of Vachss wearing an eyepatch for the author's photo was enough to interest me.
Vachss must have been keeping notebooks during his time as an attorney, etc., because he has the language, the mannerisms, the outlook and the style all down. Burke is the first hard-boiled, noir character that I've liked in a long time. It is because he's a real deal. Did I say hard- boiled? Burke and all of the other characters are deep-fried with a keen eye on what the world is really about.
If you are looking for politically correct characters, a warm and fuzzy feeling or that everything is black & white, don't read Vachss. But, if you're looking for the real world, and how life really is with a dose of the Old Testament's vengence, then read on brother...
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