by Andrew Vachss
Selected as one of the best books of 2002
by The Los Angeles Times Book Review
After years on the run, Burke is desperate to return to his native New York, the only way he can reconnect with his outlaw "family." But to survive in their part of the City, where reputation is everything, Burke must take major risks to reestablish his presence. So when a Mafia man contacts him about the murder-as-message of his sixteen-year-old daughter—the offspring of what he calls an "outside the tribe" affair that he must keep secret at all costs—Burke's depleted bankroll persuades him to step out of the shadows and do something he hasn't done in years ... actually investigate a crime.
Burke needs cover to penetrate the teenage subculture of the Long Island town where the girl lived and died, so he puts together a crew of gifted role-players, including a pair of lesbian "power exchangers" who market their special brand of sex on the Internet. When Burke himself surfaces as a casting director, seeking tomorrow's stars for a movie to be shot on location, the investigation quickly spins off into uncharted depths. What he discovers is a new kind of filmmaking, a new kind of violence, and a predator unlike any he's ever known. When they meet head-on over a brutal work of cinèma vèritè, only one of them will survive the final cut.
Read an excerpt from Only Child.
Only Child T-Shirts and more!
Only Child: The Chocolate Book
Knopf, 2002 (hardcover)
"The New York Burke inhabits is not borrowed from anybody and shimmers on the page as gaudily and scarily as it does on the streets." —New York
"Vachss' writing is like a dark rollercoaster ride of fear, love and hate." —The New Orleans Times-Picayune
"Many writers try to cover the same ground as Vachss. A handful are as good. None are better." —People
"[Vachss] writes a hypnotically violent prose made up of equal parts of broken concrete block and razor wire." —Chicago Sun Times
"The Burke books make the noir-film genre look practically pastel. ... The plot-driven stories churn with energy and a memorable gallery of the walking wounded." —The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Vachss's writing remains raw and hungry, with an epidermis of rage barely containing an infinite core of sadness." —Seattle Times
"There's no way to put a [Vachss book] down once you've begun ... the plot hooks are engaging and the one-liners pierce like bullets." —Detroit Free Press
"Vachss could send his hero Burke to Mayberry, and he'd still manage to uncover a dark underbelly of sin and corruption." —The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)
"Starting a Vachss novel is like putting a vial of nitroglycerin into your pocket and going for a jog. You just know things are going to get interesting. Usually sooner than later." —Rocky Mountain News
The Los Angeles Times: BEST BOOKS OF 2002
By Eugen Weber, December 8, 2002
Alfred A. Knopf: 288 pp., $24
As Andrew Vachss' "Only Child" opens, his antihero, Burke, has been on the run for years. Now he returns to New York City and has to make a living. He is recruited by two Mafia barons to riddle out the culprit and the motive for the horrific murder of a 16-year-old Long Island girl. His investigation carries him deep into teenage culture, Internet effervescence, furtive filmmaking and kinky sex. With Vachss, atmosphere is all, and the atmosphere here is grungy and ominous, the wardrobe lurches between louche sloppiness and plain uglification, weather is sullen, light bleary, mood murky, settings sullied and action ruthlessly blunt. Vachss' style is personal, laconic, shaded and, of course, creepy. If you like hard-boiled punk narrative, this is a read for you.
Eugen Weber is a contributing writer to Book Review.
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