American author and lawyer. Vachss (b. 1942) is a fighter against child abuse
. His private practice specializes in juvenile justice and child abuse cases. Vachss has been putting his money where his mouth is
for most of his professional life, working as a federal investigator in sexually transmitted diseases, a social services caseworker, and a labor organizer. He also directed a maximum security prison for "aggressive-violent" youth. One of the many cool
things about Vachss is his willingness to sign copies of his books for individual collections but not for resellers. (See his website
for a very comprehensive list of requirements for book signings).
Burke series is tightly written with fascinating, well-written characters who move beneath the surface of ordinary life.
Some of the major characters
- Burke is a man without a name (his birth certificate says Baby Boy Burke. He is an ex-mercvenary, ex-con, and unlicensed fringe PI who makes his living scamming the scammers (for example, stealing Krugerrands from a dirty doctor with a large kiddie porn collection, fiscally burning wanna-be mercenaries, and hunting human predators). He was abused as a child and now goes after abusers with no mercy or quarter.
- Max the Silent is Burke's partner, a huge mute Tibetan martial arts expert. His cognomen is not from his inability to speak, but because you never hear him coming...
- The Prof is streetwise and prisonwise. His name is short for both "The Prophet" and "The Professor", depending on who you ask. Burke's mentor.
- Michelle, a pre-op transexual hooker who frequently works with Burke on his scams. Informal adoptive mother of Terry (one of the abandoned children) and wife of
- The Mole, a technical genius, gadjet wizard, and Nazi hunter who lives under a junkyard with his dogs. He is the guy the Mossad calls when they need tech support. The leader of his dog pack,
- Simbawitz (The Lion Of Zion) is an "Israeli Shepard", and the second coolest dog in the world. The coolest is Burke's dog,
- Pansy, a Neapolitan Mastiff who is Burke's bodyguard and quite possible the only being that Burke truly loves. Pansy is trained as a weapon, and Burke has safeguarded her by training her with alternate commands. For example, the word he uses to indicate that food is safe to eat is "speak" because nobody trying to poison a dog is going to tell it to bark.
Vachss manages to show how repulsive and evil his villains are without crossing the line into titillating people with details of the acts. As Burke matures and grows more cynical and bitter and hopeless, he also grows more violent, becoming more and more willing to kill child molesters
first and ask questions later. The question is most likely to be, "So how's Hell these days?"