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Pain Management

Cover of Pain Management

Pain Management

Burke Series, Book 13
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Burke is back, but still lurking in the shadows, unable to return home. He is prowling the unfamiliar streets of Portland, Oregon, in search of a runaway teen. By all accounts, Rosebud Carlin is a happy, well-adjusted girl. She doesn't fit the profile of the runaway kids Burke knows so wellÉand once was. But there's something about her fatherÉ

Burke knows the street script, but the actors are all strangers. Cut off from his family and his network of criminal contacts, Burke is forced into a dangerous alliance with a renegade group dedicated to providing relief to those in intractable pain by any means necessary. A bargain is struck, and the fuse is lit. Heart-stopping and hard-hitting, Pain Management is the latest bout in Andrew Vachss's thrilling reign as undisputed champ of brass knuckles noir.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Burke is back, but still lurking in the shadows, unable to return home. He is prowling the unfamiliar streets of Portland, Oregon, in search of a runaway teen. By all accounts, Rosebud Carlin is a happy, well-adjusted girl. She doesn't fit the profile of the runaway kids Burke knows so wellÉand once was. But there's something about her fatherÉ

Burke knows the street script, but the actors are all strangers. Cut off from his family and his network of criminal contacts, Burke is forced into a dangerous alliance with a renegade group dedicated to providing relief to those in intractable pain by any means necessary. A bargain is struck, and the fuse is lit. Heart-stopping and hard-hitting, Pain Management is the latest bout in Andrew Vachss's thrilling reign as undisputed champ of brass knuckles noir.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One The Latino wouldn't know a kata from the Koran, but he was an idiot savant of violence, with the kinetic intelligence of a pit bull.

    They faced each other in a far corner of the prison yard, screened off from the ground-level guards by the never-intersecting streams of cons flowing around them.

    Any experienced gun-tower hack could read the swirls below him, see something was up. But the convicts knew the duty roster better than the warden. They knew the tower closest to the action was manned by a tired old guy with thirty years on the job and a good supply of gash magazines. All they had to do was keep the noise down.

    "Only play is to stay away." The Prof spoke low to me.

    "Yeah," I said. "Larsen's not built for distance. If Jester gets him tired, he can--"

    "Our play, fool!" the Prof hissed at me. "The fuse is lit; it's time to split."

    We faded, working our way back through the crowd sneaking glances at the duel. By the time the whistle blew and the first shots sounded from the tower, we were standing on either side of the sally port as the Goon Squad rushed through, hammering wildly at every con within reach.

    Larsen didn't run. He was facedown on the filthy asphalt, Jester's shank protruding from the back of his neck. The matador had gone in over the horns.

    They locked the whole joint down, tore up everyone's house looking for weapons. But all that did was simmer the pot more, as plots and counterplots festered into a Big House brew of pus and poison. Usually it was black against white, with brown trying to stay out of the crossfire. But this one had rolled out different.

    Larsen rode with a motorcycle gang; there were a lot of bikers Inside then. And Jester had been flying colors at sixteen, when he'd taken the life that had bought him a life sentence. The kid he'd killed was another PR, from a rival club, but that didn't matter anymore.

    Back then, when it came to prison war, race trumped tribe every time.

    You never got a choice about that. The cons had all kinds of names for areas of the prison--Times Square, Blues Alley, D Street--but I never heard of one named Switzerland.

    "On the bricks, niggers do the paper-bag trick," the Prof told me. "But Inside, you can't hide."

    "What's the paper-bag trick?" I asked him. The Prof had been schooling me for a while, so I didn't even blink at a black man saying "nigger." I knew words were clay--they took their real meaning from the sculptor.

    "I ain't talking about passing, now," the Prof cautioned me. "It's a class thing. Motherfuckers'll hold a paper bag next to they faces and look in the mirror, okay? If they darker than the bag, there ain't but so far up the ladder they can climb, understand?"

    "I . . . guess."

    "Nah, you don't get it, son. I'm talking about the colored ladder, see? Mothers want they daughters to marry light. They know high-society niggers don't want no darkies at their parties."

    I just nodded, waiting for mine, knowing it was coming.

    "Yeah," he said, softly. "It's different with white folks. Color ain't the thing. Boy like you, you was born trash. You could be light as one of them albinos; wouldn't make no difference."

    I knew it was true.

    By the time they ended the lockdown and we could mix again, the clay had hardened. Larsen's crew called it for personal, put out the word. They weren't going race-hunting. They only wanted Jester.

    I guess the hacks wanted him, too. They never bing-ed him for the killing, and they knew Jester would never take a voluntary PC. That section of solitary was marked "Protective Custody," but the road sign was just there to fool the tourists. Cons...
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-
  • Austin Chronicle "Some of the cleanest, meanest, stripped-down-and-sparkling prose ever penned."
  • The Miami Herald "A beautifully brutal combination of pulpy noir and social commentary. . . . Vachss's writing remains raw and hungry, with an epidermis of rage barely containing an infinite core of sadness."
  • Capital Times "Andrew Vachss could send his hero Burke to Mayberry, and he'd stillmanage to uncover a dark underbelly of sin and corruption."
  • Huntsville Times "Gritty, fast-paced . . . One of the most hard-boiled and important crime series ever published."
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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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