In his seventh outing, Burke, Vachss's flinty ex-con and relentless crusader for abused kids last featured in Sacrifice , is still reeling after having killed a kid in a previous case gone sour. Here, he leaves his underground detective network headquartered in Manhattan's Chinatown for a rarified Connecticut suburb shaken by a series of teen suicides. Burke is hired to protect Randy, a listless high school grad whose absent, jet-setting mother did a favor for Burke years ago when she was a cocktail waitress in London and he a clandestine government soldier en route to Biafra. Still haunted by his experience in the African jungle and his encounter there with the suicidal tug of the abyss--the eponymous ``zero''--Burke plunges into his plush surroundings with the edgy vindictiveness of a cold-war mercenary, uncovering a ring of blackmail and surveillance, a sinister pattern of psychiatric experimentation based at a local hospital and a sadomasochistic club frequented by twin sisters named Charm and Fancy. Vachss's seething, macho tale of upper-crust corruption is somewhat contrived and takes a gratuitously nasty slant toward its female characters. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1994 Release date: 08/01/1994 Genre: Fiction
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