Andrew Vachss's implacable private eye has a new client, Strega. She wants Burke to find an obscene photograph—and that search will take him into the ocean that flows just beneath the city, an ocean whose currents are flesh and money, the anguish of children and the pleasure of twisted adults. It is a place that Burke can visit only at the risk of his sanity and his life. But between the power of Strega and his own sense of justice, there is no turning back.
In Strega one of our most acclaimed crime writers gives us a thriller that might have been imagined by Dante. For this is a tour of hell with no stops left out, conducted by a novelist who writes with the authority of the damned.
Atmosphere is not enough, June 13, 2003 Reviewer: harsil from Forest Hills, New York USA This book certainly has all the noir atmosphere and gritty authenticity that Vachss is known for, but in other respects it's not all that strong. The plot here is very thin; for all its brevity, the book is bulked up to a certain extent with a lot of peripheral stories and vignettes, which, while often fascinating in themselves, feel a little too much like filler. This feeling is reinforced by the extensive description of actions toward an end: getting in the car, driving up the West Side Highway, going and getting the dog... Other elements contribute to this sense of flaccidity. The character of Strega is not really sufficiently developed, and her psychology is not very convincing. Vachss's secondary characters - the Mole, Max the Silent, Michelle - are always fun, but they tend to border on parody; and while I always enjoy them in themselves - especially Max - Vachss flirts with the risk of undermining his credibility with their over-the-top portrayal. The net result is a lack of the tension that is what a book like this is supposed to be about. There's really very little suspense, and while I will continue to follow the series for at least another book or two, I'll be hoping for a bit more of a payoff.