5.0 out of 5 stars A novel of the twisted workings of human hearts
A rally in Central Park to protest against gay bashing encounters a murderous drive-by resulting in five people down and two dead. One of the dead is Crystal Beth, Burke's girlfriend. Claiming responsibility is someone calling themselves "Homo Erectus". Burke is unsurprised when the cops pull him in for questioning because he is homeless, homicidal, a man gun...
Published on Feb. 11 2001 by Midwest Book Review
3.0 out of 5 stars A good crime novel
As a stand alone novel, it is perhaps too heavy with references to previous novels but the disturbing nature of the story is strong enough to prevent those moments from becoming too distracting. The story is actual a mystery, as Burke (the protagonist) attempts to find the killer of his girlfriend Crystal Beth and discovers that her death is actually a great deal more...
Published on April 10 2002 by Uqob
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4.0 out of 5 stars A RAZOR SHARP NARRATION,
This review is from: Choice of Evil(CD)(Unabr) (Audio CD)As has been said, 'There is no other living American author with prose as razor-clean as Andrew Vachss.....Vachss is a Zen warrior with a pen.' And he is also a warrior who explores the cruelest areas of life, whether it be pedophilia, ritual killing, sadism, or sexual deviance. He does this with no holds-barred; his words are startling, candid, often producing what some may call abhorrent but certainly frightening scenarios. Having said all of that CHOICE OF EVIL may well be his darkest Burke novel yet.
There is a tad of levity at the onset when Burke's dog, Pansy, is arrested in a police raid, and the rescue involves releasing a clutch of yapping canines. But then the terror begins when Burke is hired to find and protect a vigilante calling himself Homo Erectus who has declared war on gay bashers.
Just as the prose is razor sharp so is the narration by Phil Gigante, a veteran of some 70 audio books (including Burke stories). He delivers a forceful voice performance, made even more frightening by a clear, at times almost emotionless reading. While some less proficient readers might be tempted to give drama full throttle in some of the nightmare producing scenes, Gigante knows that in this case less is more.
- Gail Cooke
3.0 out of 5 stars A good crime novel,
This review is from: Choice of Evil: A Burke Novel (Paperback)As a stand alone novel, it is perhaps too heavy with references to previous novels but the disturbing nature of the story is strong enough to prevent those moments from becoming too distracting. The story is actual a mystery, as Burke (the protagonist) attempts to find the killer of his girlfriend Crystal Beth and discovers that her death is actually a great deal more horrific given who the murderer may be. The plot is not only an exploration of what kind of adult a State run (specifically New York) childcare department can produce but also the seamy criminal culture of pedophiles and serial killers. Be forewarned this book is not a comfortable read. Mr. Vacchs skill is enough that a great deal of the book is read with a fair amount of dread as one damaged character appears after another, with the character Burke being the axle of which this wonder-wheel of strange and unusual individuals revolve. So what's to like about this book? It's a crime genre novel and if you enjoy that kind of book it is well done and swimming with enough criminals and insinuated violence to make your skin crawl. The dialogue reads the way people speak so there is a flow that makes you the 3rd person in the scene, but there can be a bit of a struggle as characters interrupt each other's dialogue to express their own thoughts. In regard to the cast of characters, it's hard not to appreciate the loyalty Burke and his adopted street family share, but it's an uncomfortable appreciation given the nature of many of the relationships between the characters, most of them being practicing criminals. There is enough hints in Burke's thoughts that you know he has been made by his violent childhood circumstance and as an adult he's decided that this is the life he will lead, doing crimes and occasionally killing criminals that fall into the categories he finds abhorrent. Burke seems to be two people, either he is just a criminal with a vengeance streak or he's a victim turned criminal to get close to his source of vengeance. In either case Burke can be a depressing and vengeful character in this novel, as the reader begins to realize it doesn't really matter if he is either of those two people, (vengeful criminal or victim turning to crime for vengeance. One can't help suspecting that no matter what good comes from his actions Burke doesn't have a chance in hell of ever being happy or particularly stable. What this novel did succeed in doing is galvanize me to buy past Burke novels to fill in some of the character gaps. All in all, this book kept me turning the page and wondering what Burke's next novel will be about.
3.0 out of 5 stars Not The Same Burke,
This review is from: Choice of Evil: A Burke Novel (Paperback).. "Choice of Evil," though full of the urban misery and blues we've come to expect, doesn't pack the same punch. Granted, it would be hard to top "Sacrifice."
Burke's women either leave or die. So, Crystal Beth dies in what seems to be a drive-by at a gay pride rally. We get Burke the Sleuth, but not the Avenging Angel. The online search for the killer teases us with the possibility of Wesley's return..
What I miss in recent Vachss is the destruction of children as a plot element; lately it's left in the background as a short-hand device for character development. True to form, there's the Next Twisted Woman - a dominatrix named Nadine. their dialogue is a departure from the usual Burke-woman banter; Burke seems downright crotchety. His impatience with female posturing is at an all-time high. Nice to see Strega again, though. She still scares Burke 'cause she's a reminder that despite his resignation, he still desires...
As Vachss moves an aging Burke further away from ground-zero vengeance, he moves into Thomas Harris-style psychological intrigue. Give me the hellish terrain of "Sacrifice" and "Hard Candy." Reempower him as the bloody-handed avenger of the Children of The Secret.
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel of the twisted workings of human hearts,
This review is from: Choice of Evil: A Burke Novel (Paperback)A rally in Central Park to protest against gay bashing encounters a murderous drive-by resulting in five people down and two dead. One of the dead is Crystal Beth, Burke's girlfriend. Claiming responsibility is someone calling themselves "Homo Erectus". Burke is unsurprised when the cops pull him in for questioning because he is homeless, homicidal, a man gun and unable to find the shooters who killed his last chance at love. Choice Of Evil is a novel of the twisted workings of human hearts, the dark side of the human experience, and the bleak life offered marginal men and women caught up in webs of fear, bigotry, violence, and evil.
5.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected,
This review is from: Choice of Evil: A Burke Novel (Paperback)I decided to read this because I am a fan of Maggie Estep, and she is a fan of Vachss. The story line sounded interesting, and although I am unfamiliar with the characters in his books and this is not typically within the genre I choose to read, from the beginning I was fascinated. I was intrigued with the idea of Homo Erectus, and the rapture became more and more encompassing as the pages turned. The plot has many, shall we say, twists and turns. I was surprised at different revelations, but all I will reveal is that I was hooked, and I definitely recommend it. This work is very stimulating, with diverse and generally devious characters, descriptive action, and the plot is perfectly woven as is Vachss' wicked unraveling.
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid, but not great, outing for Vacchs,
This review is from: Choice of Evil: A Burke Novel (Paperback)The Burke series is generally a great one. Vacchs, an attorney who represents juveniles only, and who has a professional resume that proves he knows first-hand the horror that abused children experience, always generates an aura of reality in his writing. The cruelty to children depicted in the Burke books is truly disturbing, because you know as you read it that this stuff really goes on. Burke, a hard-bitten criminal, has enough redeeming qualities to make him a great anti-hero. Among those redeeming qualities are a sense of deep loyalty to his "family" -- the close friends he has chosen (and who have chosen him), who will stick together in the face of any adversity. The other major redeeming quality is his simmering fury directed at abusers of children. The two come together in this book after Burke's girlfriend is killed at a gay rally and he goes on the vengeance trail, which of course leads him into the child abuse underworld. The primary flaw in this novel is the strained dialogue between Burke and an important secondary character, Nadine, who is a gay domninatrix with a bizarre sexual fascination with Burke. His tough-guy posturing with her is more or less in character, but it grows tiresome by the half way point, and continues unabated from there. Nevertheless, Burke is always a good read. As one of the other reviewers points out, however, it is hard to follow all the characters unless you've read the other books. I'd start with the first and read them in order. There is a linear development of the characters and plot that will make the book much more enjoyable if you know it going in.
4.0 out of 5 stars Spiralling into the light,
This review is from: Choice of Evil: A Burke Novel (Paperback)A fast-paced and dark descent into a fascinating story. When Burke's bisexual girlfriend is killed at a gay rights rally, he vows to find the culprit. When a serial killer starts murdering fagbashers and child molesters by using the killing motifs of a dead friend of Burke's, Burke wonders about how dead his friend actually is. This being the first book by Vachss I read, I was a bit confused about the characters, but it didn't daunt me from pursuing the story, rather it made me more intrigued about this Burke guy and his relations with his friends. What I most like about this book is the depths of the characters, they're fully fleshed and yet mysterious enough to warrant curiosity. After a couple dozen pages, I couldn't put the book down if I'd tried.
5.0 out of 5 stars a very important writer,
This review is from: Choice of Evil: A Burke Novel (Paperback)Any book by Vachss is part of a crusade against the exploitation of children, sexually or otherwise. That is a worthy cause, and in addition, the books are good. In many ways, Vachss is an eye-opener. He takes readers to places which are so hideous that they are hard to imagine, and he tells those readers not to accept the foulness and cruelty that children all over the world must endure on a daily basis. "Choice Of Evil" confronts the moral problems that arise when a super-intelligent mind deliberately choses to be evil, and the ugly results of such a person's actions. The book is disturbing, but extremely thought-provoking, and on top of that, it is a serious page-turner. Vachss is never dull. This novel is not an exception to that rule.
5.0 out of 5 stars magnificent characters live here,
This review is from: Choice of Evil: A Burke Novel (Paperback)Andrew Vachss creates the truest, most three-dimensional characters in fiction, people whose emotions are real and whose language is expressive. Gem and Burke develop a warm and romantic communication which is enchanting and exciting. The suspensful plot is developed with a master's eye for perfection
Yet, there is not a hint of overheated dialogue or flowery passages; problems that spoil so much of fiction written by other authors who have created as many bestsellers as Vachss. He has mastered his art -- but has not fallen into the trap of gilding the lily.
5.0 out of 5 stars No one better, ever.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Choice of Evil: A Burke Novel (Paperback)Andrew Vachss has a gift for exposing the ugliness masked under pretty gilding, and the glory of love hidden by hard exteriors. He knows the difference between talk and action, and he tells you the truth in a way you cannot forget. This novel presents a new level of excellence in his writing.
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Choice of Evil: A Burke Novel by Andrew Vachss (Paperback - May 16 2000)
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