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Vachss returns to roots with ‘Terminal’

  As I’ve written in previous reviews of the “Burke” novels by Andrew Vachss, I consider the first five books to be the best in the series and perhaps the finest and darkest crime fiction ever written. The later novels, however, changed drastically in scope and tone, often dragging and boring me to the point where I’d fall asleep in the middle of the story, unless there was mention of Wesley (a killer so skilled and deadly that even the government was afraid of him) and the possibility of him coming back from the dead.
  It’s only because of the sheer quality of the earlier “Burke” novels that I’ve stayed with the series up to the present, hoping that Vachss eventually would return to his earlier roots and delve more deeply into the darkness of Burke’s sordid world. I’m happy (actually, I’m jumping up and down and doing cartwheels) to say that the author finally has done it with his newest novel, “Terminal.” After 10 previous books, which left me somewhat disappointed and hoping for more, I wasn’t expecting a lot from this novel. Still, I had hope, and as we all know hope is a good thing, perhaps the best of things. Well, after a few pages of reading, I suddenly found myself hooked. I couldn’t put the book down, and I became overwhelmed with the same emotions of excitement and eagerness that I’d first experienced when reading “Flood,” “Blue Belle,” “Hard Candy,” “Strega,” “Blossom” and “Sacrifice” so many years ago. This was the old Burke that I remembered, along with his chosen family in crime (Max the Silent, the Professor, Michelle, the Mole, Momma, plus Terry and Clarence) ready to take on the child predators and to bring them down in the only way Burke knows how — with extreme prejudice!
  The plot of “Terminal” centers on a long-ago crime in which three male teenagers from wealthy families raped, tortured and murdered a 13-year-old girl for the sheer fun of it. Only one other person knew that the boys had committed the crime, a dope dealer, and he’d used it to his full advantage for over 30 years, hitting the three men up for small amounts of money at different times as they eventually grew into adults and became multimillionaires. A white supremacist who knew Burke when he was in prison comes to him with a plan of extortion in which the dope dealer, who’s still alive, will help them achieve one big score by taking $3 million from the murderers and then getting revenge for the dead girl. All of Burke’s family is going to be needed for this job as they set the deal in motion and then encounter trained assassins and ex-government agents hired to kill them. Burke will have to depend on his instincts and skills to keep himself and his family alive and to finally carry out his goals of death and destruction. There’s going to be a high body count before everything reaches its final conclusion.
  This is a story that takes a closer look at Burke’s earlier years in prison and how he managed to stay alive with the Professor’s help, the white supremacist groups that are there and how they originated and what’s expected of its members once they get out of jail, the return of Max the Silent (the deadliest martial artist alive) and his fight with a Thai killer sent to murder Burke, the Mole and his connection to the Israeli secret service and how they use Burke to kill a man, who also happens to be a child molester, in exchange for their help with this score, and finally how our anti-hero sets up and then takes down through insurmountable odds the men who murdered a 13-year-old girl so many years ago. 
  “Terminal” is Vachss reaching into the darkness of humanity’s soul to tell a story that’s but the tip of the iceberg to what goes on in today’s society. The author never has been better than he is with this dark, intense and utterly violent novel. This is a man who’s a lawyer in real life and battles for the rights of children who have no one else to stand up for them and, in many ways, Andrew Vachss is Burke, a shadow warrior who’ll stop at nothing to protect the young and innocent.
  Highly recommended!!!            

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