cover image Sacrifice


Andrew H. Vachss. Alfred A. Knopf, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40283-1

In his latest assault on sexual abusers of children, super-tough Manhattan maverick PI Burke works both sides of the law to save Luke, an eight-year-old suspect in a series of baby murders. His roster of eccentric friends (familiar from Blossom, Flood et al.) includes Max the Silent, the huge, mute master of martial arts, Elroy the forger and the Mole, a scientist with a high-tech laboratory hidden in a Bronx junkyard; all help keep the city's bureaucracy, including a beautiful Amazonian DA named Wolfe, at bay while Burke arranges the best treatment for Luke, whose personality has been fragmented by repeated violent trauma. New on the seamy scene are voodoo Queen Thana, a highly organized West Indian crime gang and a collection of extraordinary dogs, all fierce, powerful and unfailingly loyal to their masters. Each time we meet him, Burke becomes more personally anguished by the propensity of adults to mistreat children. Although he is remarkably well served by his friends (all equal in loyalty to the admirable canines), especially in the explosive finale, he remains emotionally withdrawn, his obsession verging on craziness. That, along with his terse, cryptic observations about the world around him, makes him more a scary caricature than a man with a mission. (June)