Burke Series, Book 4
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From the book
CITY VULTURES never have to leave the ground.
I was standing on the upper level of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, waiting in the November night. Back to the wall, hands in the empty pockets of a gray raincoat. Under the brim of my hat, my eyes swept the deck. A tall, slim black youth wearing a blue silk T-shirt under a pale yellow sport coat. Baggy pants with small cuffs. Soft Italian shoes. Today's pimp -- waiting for the bus to spit out its cargo of runaways. He'd have a Maxima with blacked-out windows waiting in the parking lot. Talk about how hard it was to get adjusted to the city -- how he was the same way himself when he hit town. He'd be a talent scout for an independent film producer. If the girl wanted, he'd let her stay at his place for a few days until she got herself together. Projection TV, VCR, sweet stereo. A little liquor, a little cocaine. High-style. The way it's done, you know. Another black guy in his thirties. Gold medallion on his chest under a red polyester shirt that would pass for silk in the underground lights. Knee-length black leather coat, player's hat with a tasteful red band. Alligator-grain leather on his feet. Yesterday's pimp -- waiting his turn. He'd have an old Caddy, talk his talk, make you a star. A furnished room in a no-see hotel down the street. Metal coat hangers in his closet that would never hold clothes.
You could go easy or you could go hard.
Two youngish white guys, talking low, getting their play together. Hoping the fresh new boys getting off the bus wouldn't be too old.
A blank-faced Spanish kid, black sweatshirt, hood pulled up tight around his head. Felony-flyers on his feet. Carry your bags, ma'am?
A few citizens, waiting on relatives coming back from vacation. Or a kid coming home from school. A bearded wino picking through the trash.
The Greyhound's air brakes hissed as it pulled into the loading port. Night bus from Starke, Florida. A twenty-four-hour ride -- change buses in Jacksonville. The round-trip ticket cost $244.
I know -- I paid for it.
The man I was waiting for would have a letter in his pocket. A letter in a young girl's rounded handwriting. Blue ink on pink stationery.
Daddy, I know it's been a long time, but I didn't know where you was. I been working with some boys and I got myself arrested a couple years ago. One of the cops took my name and put it in one of their computers. He told me where you was, but I didn't write for a while because I wanted to have something good to tell you. I'm sorry Sissy made me run away that time without even telling you goodbye like I wanted. I wrote to her but the letter came back. Do you know where she's at? I guess she got married or something. Anyway, Daddy, you'll never believe it, but I got a lot of money now. I'm real good at this business I'm in. I got a boyfriend too. I thought you could use a stake to get you started after you got out, but I didn't want to mail no cash to a prison. Wasn't that right?
Anyway, Daddy, when you get ready to come out, you write to me at this Post Office box I got now and I'll send you the money for the ticket up here. It would be like a vacation or something. And I could give you the money I have saved up. I hope you're doing okay, Daddy. Love, Belle.
The slow stream of humans climbed down. Hands full of plastic shopping bags, cartons tied together with string, duffel bags. Samsonite doesn't ride the 'Hound too often.
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.
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer "The characters and events are as sharply defined as if they were etched in steel. The prose is short and choppy, like the ticking of a time bomb about to explode."
- The Cleveland Plain Dealer "Torrid, gritty, frightening, compelling."
- Chicago Tribune "Burke fills a void.... With his soiled white hat, this Lone Ranger...asks difficult questions while shining light into the darkest recesses."
- Detroit Free Press "There's no way to put a [Vachss book] down once you've begun.... The plot hooks are engaging and the one-liners pierce like bullets."
PublisherKnopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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