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Strega
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About the Author

Andrew Vachss, an attorney in private practice specializing in juvenile justice and child abuse, is the country's best recognized and most widely sought after spokesperson on crimes against children. He is also a bestselling novelist and short story writer, whose works include Flood (1985), the novel which first introduced Vachss' series character Burke, Strega (1987), Choice of Evil (1999), and Dead and Gone (2000). His short stories have appeared in Esquire, Playboy, and The Observer, and he is a contributor to ABA Journal, Journal of Psychohistory, New England Law Review, The New York Times, and Parade.

Vachss has worked as a federal investigator in sexually transmitted diseases, a caseworker in New York, and a professional organizer. He was the director of an urban migrants re-entry center in Chicago and another for ex-cons in Boston. After managing a maximum-security prison for violent juvenile offenders, he published his first book, a textbook, about the experience. He was also deeply involved in the relief effort in Biafra, now Nigeria. For ten years, Vachss' law practice combined criminal defense with child protection, until, with the success of his novels, it segued exclusively into the latter, which is his passion. Vachss calls the child protective movement "a war," and considers his writing as powerful a weapon as his litigation.

Reviews

Streetwise and otherwise smart ex-con Burke narrates this second journey ( Flood ) through New York's garish underworld. The tough, unlicensed private investigator and his memorable cohorts work outside the law, but physically hurt only the true scum: street and subway punks, dope dealers and child abusers. With the help of Max the Silent (deaf-mute Chinese muscle), Michelle (fabulous-looking pre-transsexual hooker), Mole (thick-glassed demolition genius), Immaculata (sympathetic Vietnamese psychotherapist), and Pansy (malevolent Italian guard dog), Burke searches for a kiddie porn picture that will salvage the sanity of a cherubic six-year-old boy. This story fairly crackles with intensity, and the TV/p.i.-type narrator fuels the excitement with wry asides, gangster-wary movements, and cautious self-assurances. Great reading. Rex E. Klett, Anson Cty. Lib., Wadesboro, N.C.

"So hard-boiled that it makes Mike Hammer and Sam Spade look like running yolks." --Chicago Sun-Times

"An absolute stunner, the toughest crime novel, and one of the most realistic, any American writer has produced." --The Cleveland Plain Dealer "It's wonderful. The words leap off the page. The plot is fresh. The principal character is original. The style is as clean as a haiku." --The Washington Post Book World "A bizarre, fast-paced tour of the criminal psyche.... Has a grim authenticity." --The Philadelphia Inquirer

In his first novel, Flood, attorney-turned-novelist Vachss introduced Burke, the ex-con investigator who's not averse to working either side of the law. The book captured the brutal atmosphere of New York's underbelly. This modern-day Robin Hood returns to that seamy world, complete with a merry band that includes a mute Mongolian strongman, a weird genius who lives in a junkyard, a transvestite prostitute and an intimidating dog named Pansy. Hired by a strangely alluring Mafia princess calling herself Strega (``witch'' in loose translation ), Burke must find a certain photograph of a child forced into a sex act. Plunged into the world of kiddie porn, he wreaks havoc on the perverts, pimps and pedophiles he despises, the true ``bad guys'' in his view of things. Despite its action and fast pace, the book is less compelling than the author's first, lapsing into a sort of predictability and short on the pulsing energy a thriller must sustain. 50,000 first printing. (March 24)

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