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Andrew Vachss is an acquired taste. People often find him excessively graphic or unrealistic. He is neither. I find it interesting that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo can come to the international attention of readers, and have an almost similar level of graphic violence and details thereof. While Vachss has been patiently spinning his cautionary and descriptions of the undertow tales for years.
I think the main difference is that it is easier to feel sympathy for Larsson???s characters. They are for the main good people, who fight adversity. Without spoiling, even the main character in Larsson???s books ends up being a victim and one can justify her actions. Perhaps not agree with them, but understand her motives.
I read my first of Vachss??? books on a recommendation several years ago; I haven???t looked back. He does grit like a Vermeer painting.
His main character is an antihero. He is a thief, a con, a man who lives a life under the radar. He doesn???t evoke much sympathy. After the life that formed him into the man he is, he retains one redeeming quality. He saves kids. He saves the ones the cops can???t find and can???t get to. He is the embodiment of the pain every public servant feels when he or she knows the person is guilty, but can???t make it stick and has to walk away. Burke is the avenging Doberman Pincher of vengeance wish made by those public servants - turned flesh and blood.
He goes into those places that no search warrant will open and he metes out the just deserts that the pederasts deserve.
The characters return, wafting into one book and out of another. There are a few supporting characters that are a joy to encounter whenever we see them. There is one in particular that I would love to see again. I suspect Vachss will just keep her hidden for all time.
Another Life is a Burke novel. Not his best, in my opinion, but definitely a solid thriller, filled with the murky slime that isn???t seen by the streetlights and building safety cameras. His family is a team as well. They use their skills together and solve the unsolvable, by methods that most of us could not even imagine exists, let alone consider utilizing. Very intricate use of characters to solve specific problems ??? a definite strong point with Vachss??? work.
The thing I admire most about Vachss??? books is his willingness to tell some of the worst stories known to man, and make people sit up and look! He wrote about sex trafficking and the internet years before it became a popular theme on television.
If you haven???t read any Vachss, start with Shella or one of his short story collections ??? Born Bad is excellent.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
Had not read/listened to a Vachss book in quite a while but just did this one and Terminal back to back. Both were great but I would give the edge to this one. To me, Vachss writes very well and very succinctly, with an excellent feel for all the mystery type books that went before. As a result, I think his work reads out loud exceptionally well. His plots are original and compelling. His characters quite good, and fleshed out. His stories are wonderfully dark and bloody. His asides on the "truth" of what is in the real world are for the most part fascinating. His asides about music are just extraordinary. I think I would love Vachss for just the Lazy Lester reference he makes in this book. One could grow tired, I suppose of the repetition of how various people are his family, and he does not mean blood family, and of how smart his lead character, Burke, is, but it becomes something of a manta, a point to touch base with again and again, so comforting. I would be the first to admit that it does not make sense for me to love these books as much as I do, for instance, Robert Crais, and I probably really do not love them quite as much, but darn close. Not as much as Michael Connelly for sure.
But these are really good reads.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful