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“Some of the cleanest, meanest, stripped-down-and-sparkling prose ever penned.” –Austin Chronicle
“A beautifully brutal combination of pulpy noir and social commentary. . . . Vachss’s writing remains raw and hungry, with an epidermis of rage barely containing an infinite core of sadness.” –The Miami Herald
“Andrew Vachss could send his hero Burke to Mayberry, and he’d still manage to uncover a dark underbelly of sin and corruption.” –Capital Times
“Gritty, fast-paced . . . One of the most hard-boiled and important crime series ever published.” –Huntsville Times
Posted January 6, 2006
Pain Management is touching and inspirational. Out of one of the grimmest parts of society, goodness blossoms in an effort to save people from deadly pain. Burke is his endearing self, as always. I recommend the novel as heartily as Andrew Vachss' other books which are also excellent.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 26, 2002
Vachss has produced yet another insightful, enlightening work with his new Burke-series novel, Pain Management. The by-now infamous anti-hero/protagonist, Burke, greets this new book with yet another issue that will resonate with many readers on multiple levels--the concept that the war on drugs so beloved and embraced by the medical establishment and government alike, in actuality denies those suffering at the hands of interminably painful *terminal* illness without benefit of copious and much-needed old and newly experimental drugs due to the nonsensical idea that taking these drugs with abandon will only result in drug addiction. . . a strange proposition considering that individuals in this situation are more than likely going to face their makers any day now in any case. . .Vachss is known for writing with not only amazing knowledge and breadth of information, but entertaining while doing so, with dark humor, minimalist-style clipped sentences, that leave the reader alive with the prospect of what will come down the pike at the turn of the next page. . . although his subject matter is all inclusive of issues that are perhaps too directly hard-hitting for those not wanting to venture into the mean world of child sexual abuse, domestic violence, . . well, abuse of *any* kind, and would rather limit their diets to evening news snippets and mild conversations and move on to the rest of their lives, most readers and fans of Vachss' prose realize the import of these books. . .not only as a source of reading pleasure but, more importantly, an invaluable resource for enlisting those in the world population against the war on abuse, for children in particular, and anyone who is deemed defenseless. . . in this case, Pain Management scores highly, as do all of Vachss' preceding works of fiction. For the novice to Vachss' books, both his urban style and sophisticated level of humor might intimidate, but will surely bring the reader back for more. . And, for those inveterate Vachss' fans who await Burke's return to NYC, there is more than an intimation in Pain Management that that is precisely where his next book will take place, hopefully with his usual familial cohorts, and the always hard-edged streets of New York to keep the reader off-balance and panting in the race against whatever new villain(s) Vachss' conjures. The mere fact that the Burke series has endured for such lengthy period is nothing less than grand testament to its ineradicable nature to impart readers with more than just another book of crime fiction--it can anger, all the while displaying astonishing poignancy. . This book is yet another example of Vachss' uncanny ability to rope the reader in with headline-glowing issues, while maintaining unique intrigue and interest in characters and story alike.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2001
The search for a missing teenage girl propels Burke on a journey where he encounters the fall-out from 1960's radicalism, the disappearance of prostitutes, and a disparate group dedicated to relieving the suffering of those in pain. More is revealed of the complex emotional make-up of PAIN MANAGEMENT's 'protagonist,' Burke, as he continues his evolution in this, the thirteenth novel of the series. Mr. Vachss has created yet another novel rich in both information and entertainment value. Enthusiastically recommended to both fans of the series and newcomers alike ... a highly imaginative and important book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 13, 2001
Before I start in on the review of the newest novel by Andrew Vachss, let me first say that the Four-star rating I¿ve given this book is a marginal one. A three-and-a-half star rating would¿ve been closer to what I feel it deserves. My gripe with the present ¿Burke¿ novels is that since the death of Wesley, Mr. Vachss has taken the series in a different direction. The violence and darkness that was so powerful in the earlier books has gradually been toned down, and Burke has become more introspective and philosophical. Even Max the Silent has been more or less eased out of the last few novels with only an occasional cameo appearance. In other words, the author slowly removed the things that made the ¿Burke¿ series stand out in the world of fiction and that gave it the solid punch in the gut that other novels seemed to lack. That¿s my complaint for better or worse. With regards to PAIN MANAGEMENT, I can say that I enjoyed this novel slightly more than I did the last one. Burke is still living in the Portland area of Oregon with his Cambodian girlfriend, Gem. Feeling bored and not having much to do, Burke decides to accept a job from Kevin Carpin to find his missing teenage daughter, Rosebud. It appears that Rosebud is a runaway, and no one has the slightest idea where she¿s gone or why. Burke questions her family, then the teachers at her school, and then her best friend. He begins to gradually pick up clues that lead him to the writer of a comic book series that Rosebud liked to read. In time, he runs into Peaches, a lone, sexy female who knows the dark streets of Portland and where the action in the city is located. Peaches is also a drug runner, but not in the normal sense of the term. She hijacks, with the help of friends, truckloads of medical drugs so that people in the area who are dying of AIDS and have terminal cancer can receive the necessary medication they need to ease their suffering. Burke eventually agrees to assist Peaches in a hijacking in return for her help in finding Rosebud. At the same time, as Burke continues his search in the red-light district of Portland, he discovers that a couple of guys just out of prison are threatening the prostitutes on the street with outright violence in order to get a percentage of their nightly earnings. Deciding to take out the two scumbags, Burke reverts to his old ways (Yeah!!!) as he teaches the guys the true meaning of violence. In the background of all of this is still the mysterious reason as to why Rosebud ran away and where she¿s hiding. In PAIN MANAGEMENT, a large part of the novel is spent with Burke simply driving around and asking questions. At least he¿s doing something this time around! The book doesn¿t have a lot of action, but what there is reminded me of the earlier novels. A great deal of information is given about the plight of sick people in our country who are unable to get the necessary drugs to alleviate their pain and how little the government is doing about it. There¿s also a bit of information concerning the mean streets of Portland and what one can expect to see should a visit to the area ever come about. Burke and Gem (she¿s pushing hard for some kind of commitment from him) are definitely not getting along, and our dark knight thinks about returning to New York, where his chosen family is, a number of times throughout the book. One can only hope! I have no complaints about the writing style of Mr. Vachss. He¿s an exceptional author who knows how to create dark and intriguing characters, as well as a brooding atmosphere for his stories. The only thing I ask for is more action in the books. Bring back Burke¿s family, especially Max the Silent. Even that may not be enough, however. All of the original characters seem to be too comfortable and complacent in their present lives. Wesley is definitely the one to bring back! Since his death several years ago was left open-ended, it could easily be done. I even think MrWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 2, 2001
What a great book ... Vachss has done a masterful job of spinning an intricate web of betrayal, lies and pain. Burke is back hunting on the mean streets of Portland ... and he's determined to find the missing Rosebud, a young girl running from an unknown pain. The trail leads Burke to some very different and unique outlaws. Every one could spell Burke's doom. And it's not just the enemies, perhaps it will be Gem, the woman who says she's Burke's wife, who will bring him down? But you're going to have to read the book to unravel this web. A fantastic read for everyone!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 2, 2001
Burke is back on the job, scamming, stealing and doing what he does best: tracking a missing girl who may be running from a pain no one can imagine--except Burke. All while out of his native New York and without the protection of his family of choice. New friends and enemies abound in this 'not always what it seems' story of betrayal and risk taking, that finds Burke trying to operate in a very different Portland than the tour guides depict. The search for the missing girl, Rosebud, is the obvious, but along the way are twists and turns that could cost Burke his freedom, and maybe even his life. Great characters, both new and old, bring a seemingly straight-forward story to life. But Vachss never fails to add an unexpected element to their motivations or their personal pain. Are the girl's parents being honest about why they want Rosebud back so badly? Who is the chameleon-like Ann O. Dyne ... friend or foe? And what of Gem, the woman who calls herself Burke's wife, is her past going to destroy Burke's future? More mystery than some of his previous outings, Vachss has done a fantastic job of weaving a story that you won't be able to put down. Definitely a must for Burke and Vachss fans and anyone else who wants a sharp, well-written and stunning in its conclusion story by one of the masters of the crime-fiction genre.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 26, 2001
I loved this Burke novel! Vachss has written a powerful mystery tale that covers a lot of ground for the 'violence-for-money' outlaw Burke. Vachss writes characters of great strength ... and pain, which may ultimately trap Burke in a web of betrayal that even he can't escape. Gem, the border-crosser who says she's his wife, is back and crossing borders between the past and future. Ann O. Dyne the samaritan with a dangerous mission ... will she be the one who takes Burke down? Maybe it will be the pimp, Kruger, or the seemingly good-guy cop Hong with his own personal agenda .. or vendetta? Then there's the girl, Rosebud, what pain is she running from and why? A fabulous, edge-of-your-seat ride to a stunning and totally unexpected conclusion. You won't be able to put this one down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
Still healing from the Hunt¿s Point New York ambush, Burke decides to remain in hiding in Portland, Oregon a bit longer. His new web is still tentative and being formed unlike that waiting for his return to the East Coast. <P>Burke¿s West Coast woman Gem, a Khmer Rouge survivor with her own ¿business¿ sends work to the still injured sociopath vigilante. The job is to find a missing runaway teen, whose parents already went the full law enforcement route including a high priced private detective agency filled with former cops. They all failed. Gem heard the street whispers about the unsuccessful search and offered the parents an unlicensed detective who accepts cash only to find the teen. Desperate the parents jump at the opportunity to search anew and hire Burke who begins his trek to find Rose. An underground series of clues seems serpentine and circular leaving Burke to wonder if he will adjust to the confusing environs of the Pacific even as he slowly unravels the truth about why Rosebud ran away from an allegedly loving home. <P> The latest Burke tale, PAIN MANAGEMENT, is a powerful entry in this long running series starring a different kind of hero. The story line engages those readers who do not mind violence. Andrew Vachss modifies his approach by adding a different type of depth with this novel as readers hear the voices of key cast members not filtered through Burke¿s interpretation. The answer to why is fabulous and keeps the audience sitting until Burke metes out justice his style. <P>Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 12, 2010
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