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