It often pays to follow your instincts I was in a bookstore one day the day itself was nothing special when I spotted this book on a rack I wasn t into any particular genre I m still not , and I ll never be able to tell you what one thing drew me to picking up BLUE BELLE My instincts just told me to get it, even though I had never heard of Andrew Vachss before in my life, and I ve seen far, farappealing cover art than what was displayed of a glamorous blonde bombshell and the grim profile of a mystery man The synopsis of the story on the back cover was intriguing enough, so I got it I had no idea what kind of amazing yet relentlessly dark ride I was in for.Ever since, I ve had nothing but the utmost respect for Andrew Vachss, and if in any way I can enlighten others about his novels andimportantly the good works he does, his mission to enlighten us about The Children of the Secret , I will without a doubt Vachss has done many things in his life, but he s most committed to his work as a child lawyer and to increasing awareness about the hideous evil of child abuse, physical and sexual, a subject too many aren t aware ofat least, most aren t aware of how completely horrifying and overwhelming this evil is in our world today His novels, in fact, have been some of his best weapons in getting out his message of what kind of dark, terrible things are happening in the shadows we refuse to really look intoand what we can do to make things better.BLUE BELLE, like most all of Vachss works, enlightens us to the world we citizens can t seeit s a pavement coarse, brutal world where survival is everything This is the third novel in a long series of books featuring his signature hero, Burke Unlike Mickey Spillane s Mike Hammer, though, Burke isn t a private investigator, altough he does fulfill the spirit of that role at times Burke is the name most know him by and his past is a mystery to everyone but himself, although there s no doubt he s been to prison and he ll never go back He s a thief and con artist who lives so far under the radar he even pays taxes under another name He also has what can be best described as a truly extraordinary family, bound together by honor instead of blood relations They re a singular supporting cast that includes Prof, a short, aged black prophet who taught Burke everything he knows about the streets and how to survive on themMole, a quiet and deadly dangerous genius who lives under a junkyardMax the Silent, a veteran enforcer and professional killer who is unable to speak, but he and Burke use a sign language only they both knowamong others If one of them is threatened, they all come together to do whatever is necessary to end the threat.Burke is sometimes an investigator when someone contacts him they re few and far between because Burke doesn t advertise his services to solve a problem that no one else can Teenaged prostitutes are dying, murdered by those who drive a mysterious vehicle some have called the Ghost Van, and the pimps affected most want Burke to find and stop the killers The reward they offer isthan enough incentive, but they also give him a childlike yet passionate stripper named Belle to support him Burke and Belle fall into an intense, sexually supercharged love affair made all thepoignant when she tells him about her nightmarish past That s enough to get the blood boiling for any man with a heart, but the stakes get raised to shocking levels when Burke discovers the Ghost Van is under the protection of a monster feared by the underworldMortay, a martial artist who wants something that will make things VERY personal for BurkeThe atmosphere of BLUE BELLE is almost relentlessly bleak, especially when it comes to the subject of child abuse It s a subject that the author knows intimately because of his passionate fight to make others aware of this evil The story has a nasty, serrated edge to it that can only be called authentic When you read a story by Vachss, you have no doubt you ve glanced through a window briefly into society s underbelly, and it s never been presented in a way quite like it is hereit s never feltreal The story is fast paced, violent and sensualthe characters aren t just colorful and unique, we re driven to care deeply for them and what will happen next It isn t perfect, thoughthings happen, especially at the climax, that could have been written better Even though it s the third of Burke s novels, it s friendly to newbiesI had no problem jumping into his world a bit late, and it made me want to hunt down his first two novels I ve never regretted it, and you won t, eitherhunt down BLUE BELLE and read it So disappointed This book is part Carry On part violent revenge and the rest is misogynistic cod s wallop I fail to understand why a woman need s to be slapped , nipped and patted on the rump to reassure her insecurities What is she, a farm animal The character of Belle is so deeply annoying that i started to skip the Belle Burke scenes just to get on with the story Andrew Vachss clearly has a thing for large, mentally unstable, obsessive women she s only met Burke for a few hour s and before you know it she s pledging undying love, whilst naked talking about having babies, whilst naked And WTF is with the little girl voice it s just plain weird an unsettling insight into AV view of the fairer sex The story is not too bad when it finally get s going. However, Belle is such a whinging, whinning manic obsessive that think s getting her enormous, of course Oooh Matron, tit s out every 2 second s constantly dropping her pant s whilst bending from the waist Oh please stop is the solution to all life s problem s disappointingly, Burke is only to happy to oblige A poor addition to the Burke series but Thank God for the ending Burke Works The Darkest Sides Of The Meanest City Streets Now Those Streets Are Even Shadowed By A Ghost Van Snuffing Teenage Prostitutes To Stop It, Pimps Have Given Burke A War Chest Stuffed With Dirty Money, And Help In The Fabulous Form Of A Blonde Stripper Whose Naked Offer Of Heavenly Sex Masks A Secret Hell Burke Thinks He Is Shockproof About The Evil Men And Women Do He Is Wrong I bought Blue Belle pretty much motivated solely because I heard Vachss wrote good crime stuff and also because if the cover of this book was the cover to an album I would buy that album It s wonderfully garish and mildly unsettling with an undeniable 80s flavor The typeset seriously looks like mold The matching cover to the next book Hard Candy is even better Anywaysthe point is that I really had no idea what to expect Not only is it my first Vachss but it s the third Burke novel so a good deal of stuff and people have been established by this point Thankfully, I was able to figure it out pretty quickly and had a good time with this novel, although I definitely felt like I needed a scalding psychic shower after.Burke isI don t even know what to describe him as I don t think the usual P.I applies here He definitely does some investigative work, but he s also a straight up criminal that did a stint in prison and has this very Punisher like crusade of ripping off and ruining people who commit crimes against children The theme of protecting and avenging wronged children and often women as well was prominent to me from within the first hundred pages or so Burke is paranoid and lives off of the grid, but still has a surprisingly close knit family of other outcasts and weirdos or outlaws as they call themselves opposed to citizens These range from Mama, a restaurant owner with extensive underworld connections to the transsexual lady of mystery Michelle to the Nazi hunting Mole to the mute Mongolian warrior Max If not fully fleshed out, the characters are always at least interesting They kind of remind me of the people that inhabit Miller s Sin City comics, which was a plus because I love those.Yes, this series can be a bit over the top at times but all that really serves to do is keep things entertaining and provide a bit of fantastical respite from the utterly grim and often revolting world Burke inhabits Vachss apparently extensive life experience with the world of crime as an attorney only adds to the novel s weight, and his obvious close familiarity with New York provides a wonderful detail, mood and atmosphere to the surroundings The story moves all over Manhattan and as someone who has never been anywhere near New York I loved that Most authors will tell you the characters are on 53rd and 7th or whatever but like I said, I have no idea what 53rd and 7th looks like I have trouble even envisioning having that many streets My city goes up to like 30th at the most With Vachss you get vivid descriptions of what s actually going on with each block the characters are visiting and it s awesome Setting and atmosphere is vital with this type of novel and Vachss has it.The plotyou know, your basic mysterious van murdering hookers around the city for a totally unknown reason with some ill fated love story thrown in It certainly kept the pages turning I m not a fast reader by any means but I did finish it in a day or two The villain was pretty goddamn creepy, which I always love, although I was kind of baffled by the occasional dips into martial arts stuffI m just gonna blame it on the general 80s obsession with karate and that kind of thing I will say that this novel had a decent bit of gratuitous sex, what with the whole repeated descriptions of how overpoweringly buxom Belle was and the lovely cherry on top with the view spoiler four page anal sex scene hide spoiler This book saved my life How s THAT for a review When I discovered this Author, and read this book, I suddenly realized that the abuse or let s call it what it is the terrorisation of children by their so called parents I was suffering wasn t my fault as I had been made to believe Even though mine was emotional,not sexual, I recognized power and it s ab use.Took some time, but eventually I got away.Thank you Mr Vachss, once again How s the book One of my absolute favourites without the above being involved here A love story, a brilliant thriller, and an atmosphere you can taste This is a CLASSIC, and I have given it to people with that introduction Forget Chandler, this is THE TRUTH If you ever were to ask me to reccommend a book without any criteria or caveats at all THIS is the book I would tell you you MUST read Why Why would I specifically choose this book out of all of the many books I have read over the many,many,years Heart THIS book has heart,orproperly perhaps it has A heart,a living,beating,palpable heart that drives this story much as an actual heart pumps blood through the body in which it resides.Andrew Vachss is not an author for the casual reader,his characters are criminals Thieves,gun runners,con artists They are hard and unkind to those outsiders whom they do not deem as being family ,but to one another they are a true family caring for each other in the ways that only a family composed of those who have chosen to be family to one another could be.The head of this family,as much as it actually has one is Burke,an angry man with an even angrier past He and his family exist in the underworld of society in New York where citizens don t dare to tread Burke is a criminal but he isn t without those things inside each of us that make us human,he s just better at ignoring them than we are.Burke is the man the world tells you not to trust but he shonest than those who would warn us against him That honesty and spark of integrity which he closely gaurds agains those that would rather see both it and him extinguished are at once his Achilles Heel and most redeeming quality Blue Belle reads like Raymond Chandler channeling Truman Capote s In Cold Blood ,it s harsh,it s cruel,but it s damned good and you can t help but be hooked on this modern day Manhattan style gumshoe It s noir,New York style Much like Chandler s Phillip Marlowe Burke s life becomes suddenly and irreversibly complicated by what Marlowe would have called a dame ,and not unlike Marlowe Burke finds himself drawn to ths damsel in distress asthan hust his client.I refuse to give you any information about this,my absolute favorite book,except to tell you that Burke has taught me a lot about being a man and having a family,and that family doesn t have to be the folks you were born to This is a novel about honor,redemption,love and pain and I think it s a true modern masterpiece and it has a most revered place on my bookshelf. The entire Burke series can only be described as gritty Burke is the ultimate anti hero As characters are developed as the series moves along, I highly recommend any new readers start this from the beginning, Flood, and move on from there. Third book in the excellent Burke series by Andrew Vachss. While working to collect the 50,000 bounty on the Ghost Van, a mysterious vehicle whose appearance marks the disappearance of one orprostitutes, Burke gets entangled with a buxom stripper named Belle Can Burke keep Belle out of harm s way as he tracks the Ghost Van And what, if anything, does the Ghost Van have to do with Mortay, the insane karate master who s gunning for Max the Silent Wow Burke bit offthan he could easily chew in this one The relationship with Belle really complicated Burke s life of scamming and surviving by his wits Like the other Burke books I ve read, Burke and his associates were made to look like angels when compared to the big bad villain, Mortay in this case The scariest thing about Vachss s books is that he draws the villains from his real life experiences Chilling stuff.It was nice to see the old supporting characters and I m glad Vachss kept Terry around While Burke is much the same as he was in the two previous books, his supporting cast continues to evolve Burke s concern for Max was both believable and well done The disgusting underbelly of New York is almost a character in the Burke series and Blue Belle is no exception I could easily see Lawrence Block s Matthew Scudder inhabiting the same New York as Burke Any gripes Yeah The plot came together a little too neatly It seemed like Burke took a couple really big leaps in deduction But that problem was minuscule compared to my other problem with the book Burke s relationship with Belle I just didn t buy the way she was desperate for Burke to love her a minute or two after they met The way Burke treated her was in character for him, not wanting anyone getting too close, but I didn t believe that she d stay with him Burke s one cold bastard, although he redeemed himself to Belle at the end All in all, I enjoyed Blue Belle Four easy stars. Burke is asked by a pimp named Marques to take on a bounty for the operators of the Ghost Van, a vehicle patrolling the streets of Manhattan, killing prostitutes His contact with Marques is initiated through Belle, a buxom stripper who thinks Burke is her savior Turns out she is an excellent wheelman The search for the Ghost Van brings Burke to Mortay, a psychotic killer, who wants to fight Burke s close friend, Silent Max, to the death, and breaks the legs of the Prof to get Burke s attention Violent, gritty stuff, but Burke s love of his ad hoc family sets him apart from the scum.Reading the Burke series at the same time as the Parker series is very interesting Burke is muchprone to violence, but also seems to be in the game to protect those who cannot defend themselves Parker is all about the score, himself, and often, his team.
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- 336 pages
- Blue Belle
- Andrew Vachss
- 15 October 2017 Andrew Vachss