Safe House (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) by Andrew Vachss

Andrew Vachss view of the darker aspects of life have brought his gritty crime novels onto award and bestseller lists.

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Safe House (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) by Andrew Vachss


  • Paperback: 320 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.79 x 8.03 x 5.23
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; (April 1999)
  • ISBN: 0375700749
    Safe House, the latest in Andrew Vachss's series of Burke novels, begins when Burke's "brother," Hercules, is paid to scare off a neo-nazi stalker and accidentally kills the wrong guy. Burke finds himself unwittingly drawn into a world of white supremacists, stalkers, and safe house networks. What ensues is an intense rush to cover Hercules' tracks and, at the same time, bring down a New York City white supremacy ring.

    Safe House offers up Vachss's repertoire of repeat characters. The most fascinating are Burke's prison "family," the Prof, Max the silent, the Mole, Michelle, Clarence, Mama, and, of course, Burke himself, who is as hard-edged as ever. The family's willingness to help one another, even die for one another, is the emotional string that ties the books together. There are also two new female characters, Vyra, the affluent Jewish housewife and Crystal Beth, half Inuit, half Irish safe house madam. Though not as believable as their male counterparts, Vyra and Crystal Beth have powerful secrets of their own and add a soft, human element to the story.

    Like other Vachss novels, Safe House embraces the dirty, grim life of the ex-con for hire. The most compelling aspect of Safe House is Vachss's no-holds-barred writing style. He spares nobody's feeling and minces no words in this rough, gritty and often painfully raw crime story. --Mara Friedman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

    Book Description
    The new novel from Andrew Vachss puts Burke 'hard-core career criminal and man-for-hire' up against a new breed of predator: stalkers. Some obsessed, some deranged, all dangerous.

    Burke's old prison pal Hercules, hired by a shadowy network that runs a safehouse for stalking victims, botched the job, and one of the stalkers is dead. To save his partner, Burke has to penetrate the network, and he makes a deal with the boss, Crystal Beth, a woman as obsessed as the stalkers. But Crystal Beth has a stalker of her own, an extortionist who threatens to bring down her entire network unless she surrenders one of the women she's hiding.

    When Burke learns that the extortionist might be government-issue, and that the stalker he's protecting is a member of a neo-Nazi cell with plans to make Oklahoma City look like a pipe bomb, his survivalist instincts go on full alert ("When there's too many loose threads, somebody always weaves them into a noose"). And when it comes down to making his own house and his family-of-choice safe, Burke turns lethal.

    With blistering power, Safe House reminds us why Kirkus has called Burke "one of the most fascinating male characters in crime fiction."
    --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

    Reader Reviews
    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful: Dysfunctional Doc Savage has gotten old., May 1, 2003 Reviewer: fred_mertz from Paterson, NJ USA There's something mildly comforting about a new Burke novel, because you should know what you're buying by now. A twist on the hardboiled detective, an antihero with a heart of pyrite, a hard exterior protecting a tough interior protecting a broken inner child. I've been in on the Burke novels since the first one, Flood, was dropped in my lap. I kinda liked the half-assed detective character, and I was willing to go along with Vachss' evolution of the character and his environment, but this novel represents a definitive "mining of the old". It's just short of becoming a parody of itself, and I don't like it. Vachss has stripped down his usual dialogue and character interactions down to the bone; it's really as if he's now writing these novels from a template, where he plugs in the scenario and picks from the usual menu of plot devices. Perhaps I'm simply tired of Burke's world. The Prof's rhyming is truly awful now, and I no longer find it a simple thing to suspend disbelief during most of the book. I think the only character preserved from my broad brush happens to be Max, and I suspect it's partly because he doesn't speak, but mostly, because Vachss now treats him as a deus ex machina and as such, he's mostly an object rather than a person. I know this is not good news for loyal readers. However, I have to write 'em like I see 'em, and this world has run its course. Perhaps Vachss will take some time off, re-examine where Burke is and where should be, and come up with something fresh. He needs it.

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