Andrew Vachss

A friend of mine turned me on to Andrew Vachss a few years ago. He meant it innocently enough; didn’t realize that I’d read one novel and then be strung out on the couch with all 14 of the Burke novels until I was done.

He writes gritty, tight, tough prose. Usually you find it in the Mystery section and the main protagonist, Burke, does do some detective work. But it’s no mystery what the author is all about.

His bio from Wikipedia:

Andrew Henry Vachss (born October 19, 1942) is an American crime fiction author, child protection consultant, and attorney exclusively representing children and youths. He is also a founder and national advisory board member of PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children.

Prior to becoming a lawyer, Andrew Vachss was a federal investigator in sexually transmitted diseases, a social services caseworker, a labor organizer, and had directed a maximum-security prison for juvenile offenders. As an attorney, he now represents children and youths in cases of abuse and neglect, delinquency, custody, and related litigation. He is the author of numerous novels, including the Burke series, as well as two collections of short stories, essays, poetry, song lyrics, and graphic novels. His books have been translated into twenty languages, and his work has appeared in Parade, Antaeus, Playboy, Esquire, and the New York Times, among other publications. A native New Yorker, he now divides his time between the city of his birth and the Pacific Northwest.

Many Vachss novels feature the shadowy private investigator Burke, a true New Yorker, full of energy and contradictions. About his character, Vachss says: “If you look at Burke closely, you’ll see the prototypical abused child: hypervigilant, distrustful. He’s so committed to his family of choice—not his DNA, biological family, which tortured him, or the state which raised him—but the family that he chose, that homicide is a natural consequence of injuring any of that family. He’s not a hit man. But he shares the same religion I do, which is revenge.”

His wife, Alice Vachss, is a former prosecutor and the author of the nonfiction book Sex Crimes: Ten Years on the Front Lines Prosecuting Rapists and Confronting Their Collaborators.

There are now 16 Burke novels, all but 2 of which I’ve read. Most of which I highly recommend.

Just last week a new one was released, Mask Market. Review still forthcoming on it.

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One Response

  1. Vachss is terrific — I gobbled up Mask Market as soon as it came out. I’m looking forward to your review; I love hearing what others think about books I enjoyed.

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