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Choice of Evil (1999)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375706623, Paperback)With the possible exception of James Ellroy, Andrew Vachss is the mystery writer with the darkest heart and the most troubled soul. Like his 10 other books about the enigmatic outlaw private eye called Burke, Choice of Evil deals with unpleasant subjects--ritual murder, pedophilia, sexual deviance--the full force of which are never dampened by attempts at tact or taste. Vachss is not an author to look away from the nasty, or try to soften any of life's lowest blows.
That said, his latest does start off on a light note when Burke's giant mastiff, Pansy, is grabbed in a police raid. Burke and his motley crew of helpers--people with names like Mole, Crystal Beth, and Max the Silent--stage a raid on the animal shelter, and in a zany scene worthy of Lawrence Block or Donald Westlake, set free a herd of caged canines. All too soon, however, darkness descends as Crystal Beth--Burke's main squeeze and an activist for abused women--is killed at an outdoor rally, apparently by someone who hates homosexuals. Following this atrocity, a vigilante calling himself Homo Erectus declares war on gay bashers, and also on pedophiles who seek to link their cause to gay rights. Burke is hired to find this vigilante and keep him safe before the cops nab him.
Mentioning pedophilia to Burke is like waving a red flag at a bull: he can (and does) go on for many pages about this particular evil as he and a friendly lesbian dominatrix link Homo Erectus to a supposedly long-dead killer from Burke's own past.
To absorb the full force of the Burke canon, read other books in the series: Safe House, Blossom, Blue Belle, and False Allegations. --Dick Adler
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:46 -0400)
A rally in Central Park, a protest against gay-bashing. A murderous drive-by. Five people down, two dead. One of them Crystal Beth, girlfriend of Burke, the most haunted and darkly talented man-for-hire in the city. First the gay-bashers celebrate... then they start dropping. Claiming responsibility is the mysterious "Homo Erectus," whose identity is as unknown as his mission is clear. Burke is unsurprised when the cops pull him in for questioning - "I was born a suspect." But he is now also homeless and homicidal, a gun without a target, unable to find the shooters who killed his last chance at love, and drifting near the brink of the ultimate despair he calls the Zero. Most citizens see Homo Erectus as a serial killer with a political agenda. But to some, he's become a hero. Like the police, they desperately want to find him. But unlike the police, they want to help him disappear before the dragnet tightens. They hire Burke for the job. Which is when things really get ugly. For as Burke tracks the killer, he stumbles across the unmistakable footprints of the man who was the city's most feared assassin before his own death - an ice-cold murder machine whose very name still inspires terror in the city's underground. The whisper-stream is divided in its verdict: either Wesley never really died... or he's found a way to come back.