A Bomb Built in Hell (Paperback)

Wesley's Story

By Andrew Vachss

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 9780307950857, 256pp.

Publication Date: November 13, 2012

Other Editions of This Title:
Compact Disc (11/13/2012)
MP3 CD (11/13/2012)
Other (11/1/2012)

List Price: 15.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Before Burke, Andrew Vachss created Wesley, the ultimate ice-man. A Bomb Built in Hell is Wesley’s story.
While doing time for manslaughter, Wesley meets prison boss Carmine Trentoni, an Old School gangster who no longer believes in the blood-oath he took years ago. Carmine’s triple life sentence hasn't cut him off from all his outside sources—he has waited with the patience of stone for someone capable of absorbing his knowledge . . . and carrying out his sworn vengeance. Wesley emerges from prison as the perfect hit man: calculating, deadly, and ice-cold. He follows Carmine’s instructions: locate “the last of us,” one “Mr. Petraglia,” then assassinate a Chinatown gang boss and a Mafia chief—both had overstepped their bounds. But then Wesley finds his own mission: As he begins to see the root of all he has learned to hate, he and a youth just out of reform school, known only as The Kid, begin to take out political targets. In a final burst of understanding, Wesley decides to leave The Kid behind. But not before he writes his own suicide note . . . in dynamite.

About the Author

Andrew Vachss is a lawyer who represents children and youths exclusively. His many novels include the Burke series and two collections of short stories. His books have been translated into twenty languages, and his work has appeared in Parade, Antaeus, Esquire, Playboy, and The New York Times, among other publications. He divides his time between his native New York City and the Pacific Northwest.

Praise For A Bomb Built in Hell: Wesley's Story

“Vachss doesn’t sugarcoat things in this brutal, detailed piece of work, but that’s what makes it fascinating. Vachss’ fans will love this example of the author’s early writing, which predates his Burke books by several years. Rejected by publishers decades ago due to its high level of violence, the years have not diminished its impact.”
    —Mystery Scene
“History has caught up to Wesley’s bleak odyssey, repeatedly rejected for publication decades ago but now unnervingly prescient.”
    —Kirkus Reviews
A Bomb Built in Hell presages motifs Vachss employed in the Burke novels, but even crime fans unfamiliar with Burke can relish it. Wesley is utterly remorseless, and the story is told in the coldest and sparest of prose.”