Down in the Zero
By Andrew Vachss
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679760665, 272pp.)
Publication Date: July 4, 1995
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Andrew Vachss has reinvented detective fiction for an age in which guilty secrets are obsolete and murder isn't even worth a news headline. And in the person of his haunted, hell-ridden private eye Burke, Vachss has given us a new kind of hero: a man inured to every evil except the kind that preys on children.
Now Burke is back, investigating an epidemic of apparent suicides among teenagers of a wealthy Connecticut suburb. There he discovers a sinister connection between the anguish of the young and the activities of an elite sadomasochistic underground, for whom pan and its accompanying rituals are a source of pleasure—and power
Andrew Vachss, an attorney in private practice specializing in juvenile justice and child abuse, is the country’s best recognized and most widely sought after spokesperson on crimes against children. He is also a bestselling novelist and short story writer, whose works include Flood (1985), the novel which first introduced Vachss’ series character Burke, Strega (1987), Choice of Evil (1999), and Dead and Gone (2000). His short stories have appeared in Esquire, Playboy, and The Observer, and he is a contributor to ABA Journal, Journal of Psychohistory, New England Law Review, The New York Times, and Parade.
Vachss has worked as a federal investigator in sexually transmitted diseases, a caseworker in New York, and a professional organizer. He was the director of an urban migrants re-entry center in Chicago and another for ex-cons in Boston. After managing a maximum-security prison for violent juvenile offenders, he published his first book, a textbook, about the experience. He was also deeply involved in the relief effort in Biafra, now Nigeria.
For ten years, Vachss’ law practice combined criminal defense with child protection, until, with the success of his novels, it segued exclusively into the latter, which is his passion. Vachss calls the child protective movement “a war,” and considers his writing as powerful a weapon as his litigation.
"Vachss is in the first rank of American crime writers."- Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Deliciously scummy... His bad guys are memorably heinous."-Washington Post Book World
"[Vachss's] short sharp sentences crackle with energy; his plots are satisfyingly elaborate; the narratives are beautifully paced, and the characters... are always pungently individual."- Chicago-Sun Times
"The characters and events are as sharply defined as if they were etched in steel. The prose is short and choppy, like the ticking of a time bomb."-Seattle Post-Intelligencer