Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, Paperback, 9780679761686, 352pp.
Publication Date: July 4, 1995
Burke is one of the most cold-blooded yet strangely honorable heroes in the history of crime fiction, an outlaw who makes his living by preying on the most vicious of New York City's bottom-feeders, those who thrive on the suffering of children.
In Andrew Vachss's tautly engrossing novel Burke is given a purse full of dirty money to find the infamous Ghost Van that is cutting a lethal swath among the teenage prostitutes in the hood. He also gets help in the form of a stripper named Belle, whose moves on the runway are outclassed only by what she can do in a getaway car. But not even Burke is prepared for the evil that is behind the Ghost Van or for the sheer menace of its guardian, a cadaverous karate expert who enjoys killing so much that he has named himself after death.
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."
"Burke would eat Spade and Marlowe for breakfast, not even spitting out the bones. [He] is one tough, mean, pray-god-you-don't-meet-him...hombre." -Boston Herald
"A book so ferocious, with characters so venal and actions so breakneck, that you dare not get in the way.... First rate."- Chicago Tribune
"A tough crime novel that pulls no punches; it places Vachss in the front rank of contemporary American crime writers."-Kansas City Star