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Only Child

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Only Child

Burke Series, Book 14
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It's been years since Burke has been home, years since he's seen his "family" and worked in the underbelly of New York City. Although his appearance has changed, his reputation grown dusty and his...
It's been years since Burke has been home, years since he's seen his "family" and worked in the underbelly of New York City. Although his appearance has changed, his reputation grown dusty and his...
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Description-
  • It's been years since Burke has been home, years since he's seen his "family" and worked in the underbelly of New York City. Although his appearance has changed, his reputation grown dusty and his wallet thin, his skills and his crew remain razor sharp. So when he is contacted by a mob boss to investigate the murder of his illegitimate daughter, Vonni, Burke takes the job and begins searching for an unspeakably brutal killer.

    Posing as a casting director looking for tomorrow's stars, Burke reaches out to the high school students who knew Vonni, and may know the identity of the killer. Before long he unearths a perverse enterprise--a young director pursuing a brutal new type of cinema verité.

    From the Trade Paperback edition.

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One Just past midnight, I slipped back over the border, moving downwind out of the darkness. Because Hollywood's got one part right--the dirty, scheming, heartless bitch never does sleep.

    Especially now.

    The alley behind Mama's restaurant was as immune to time as the chamber of a pharaoh's vault. A pair of dull-orange oil drums stood sentinel. I nosed the Subaru's dechromed black snout carefully into the opening between them, over to an empty patch of oil-stained asphalt. On the filthy wall above it, a square of pure-white paint. Inside the square, Chinese characters, in perfect, fluted-edge calligraphy. It was signed with the chop of Max the Silent, the Chinatown equivalent of a skull-and-crossbones on an unmarked bottle.

    I slid the Subaru against the wall, not bothering to lock it. Directly across from my spot was a rust-colored steel door with no handle. I slapped my hand against it three times, hard, and stepped back, slitting my eyes against what I knew was coming.

    The door opened outwards. A sudden spray of grimy yellow kilowatts framed me in place. A man's shape, backlit, blocked my way. I slowly moved my hands away from my sides, keeping them down.

    The man said something in Cantonese. I didn't move, letting him study me. The door closed in my face.

    I heard them moving in behind me, but I didn't change position. Felt their hands going over me. Didn't react. The door opened again; no lights, this time.

    As I stepped inside, I saw a man in a white restaurant apron standing to my left. He had a meat cleaver in his right hand, his left hand locked over the wrist. On the other side of the kitchen, two more men. One of them sighted down the barrel of a pistol, as if I were a piece of land he was surveying. The other flexed his hands to show me he wouldn't need anything else.

    I heard the door shut behind me.

    The men watching me were professionals, about as nervous as a yoga class on Xanax. More waiting. Not a problem for me; it's what I do best.

    "You come home?" I heard her voice before I saw her.

    "Yeah, Mama."

    "Good!" she snapped, stepping out of the darkness. "You eat now, okay?"

    My booth was the last one toward the back, closest to the bank of pay phones. It had the same look as my parking spot. Like it had been waiting for me to show.

    I slid in. Mama stood with her arms folded. I hadn't heard her yell anything out to the kitchen, but I knew what she was waiting for.

    The guy who hadn't needed weapons came to the booth, carrying a heavy white tureen in one hand--thumb on top, no napkin between him and the heat. He lowered the tureen gently to the table, underscoring the message he'd given me earlier.

    Mama sat and took the top off in the same smooth motion, releasing a cloud of steam. No tea ceremony for her; she ladled out a small bowl of the hot-and-sour soup as quick as they ever had on the chow line back in prison. I took a sip, knowing better than to wait for her.

    My sinuses unblocked as I felt the familiar taste slam home.

    "Perfect," I told her.

    "Everything same," Mama said, finally helping herself to a bowl.

    I was on my fourth bowl--three is the house minimum--when Max materialized.

    He stood there, looking down at me. Measuring.

    "I'm all right," I signed to him.

    He cocked his head.

    "Yeah, I'm sure," I said aloud.

    He bowed slightly, folding one scarred, horn-ridged hand over the fist he made of the other.

    Mama gestured her order for him to sit and have soup. Max moved in next to her, never taking his eyes off me. He used two hands to show a tree springing up from the ground, then pointed where...
About the Author-
  • Andrew Vachss, an attorney in private practice specializing in juvenile justice and child abuse, is the country's best recognized and most widely sought after spokesperson on crimes against children. He is also a bestselling novelist and short story writer, whose works include Flood (1985), the novel which first introduced Vachss' series character Burke, Strega (1987), Choice of Evil (1999), and Dead and Gone (2000). His short stories have appeared in Esquire, Playboy, and The Observer, and he is a contributor to ABA Journal, Journal of Psychohistory, New England Law Review, The New York Times, and Parade.

    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.

Reviews-
  • New York Post "The hardest of the hard-boiled private eyes is back... [Only Child is] full of surprises."
  • Wilmington News Journal "Vachss prose is never less than hypnotic.... He's a master at shedding light on grime and human and urban decay."."
  • The Seattle Times "Only Child is reliable Vachss, another page-ripping underground procedural with harsh relevance and prose that qualifies the real-life children's lawyer for his own adjective. (Vachssatious?)."
  • The Jacksonville Sun "The plot is perfect, the investigation is compelling, and the payoff is bittersweet but satisfying."
  • Los Angeles Times Book Review "Vachss' style is personal, laconic, shaded and of course, creepy. If you like hard-boiled punk narrative, this is the read for you."
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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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Burke Series, Book 14
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