Author: Andrew Vachss
Original language: English
In his seventh outing, Burke, Vachss’s flinty ex-con and relentless crusader for abused kids last featured in Sacrifice , is still reeling after having killed a kid in a previous case gone sour. Here, he leaves his underground detective network headquartered in Manhattan’s Chinatown for a rarified Connecticut suburb shaken by a series of teen suicides. Burke is hired to protect Randy, a listless high school grad whose absent, jet-setting mother did a favor for Burke years ago when she was a cocktail waitress in London and he a clandestine government soldier en route to Biafra. Still haunted by his experience in the African jungle and his encounter there with the suicidal tug of the abyss–the eponymous “zero”–Burke plunges into his plush surroundings with the edgy vindictiveness of a cold-war mercenary, uncovering a ring of blackmail and surveillance, a sinister pattern of psychiatric experimentation based at a local hospital and a sadomasochistic club frequented by twin sisters named Charm and Fancy. Vachss’s seething, macho tale of upper-crust corruption is somewhat contrived and takes a gratuitously nasty slant toward its female characters.