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09 June 2013

Another Life

It has been a long time since I read a book of Burke, the outside-the-box (and the law) self-described thief who would demur at being called a seeker of truth, justice and freedom from all.  He had always been an enigma.  What really drives him to do?  He himself did not know.  And, now, in the eighteenth and final (so, how does anyone know this?  is this publisher hype?  author threat?) title in the series, the reader learns as he learns just why?  Who really was his mother and why did she abandon him?  Did she really think it was for his own good?

The writing is riveting, even as we know it's all on the author's agenda, his views, his philosophy, his conclusions, even his rhymes.  There are so many moments of reflection which help make this so.  For example, in one passage is almost a statement of fact; Saudi Arabia do not have problems with its people, because they simply direct them elsewhere, like bin Laden and 9/11.  Putting the facts together, I can see this theory holding water.  I have often asked myself, how did bin Laden go from despising the decadent Saudi princes and upper society to attacking the World Trade Center?  And, I'm sure he had not been looking forward to living some years in a cave.

How much is Andrew Vachss a Burke wannabe, like we all are --  a brother and son to the disenfranchised survivors and living by a code of honor and ethics while avenging the helpless, most especially hurt children, a connoisseur of the blues, and the ultimate networker?  Is Burke his alter-ego, his "ghost brother?"  I'd certainly like him to be mine.

And Michelle, Burke's "little sister," has always been a favorite of mine.  When I first met her in a Burke book, she was still saving up for that trip to Scandinavia.  Even this, the final installment of Burke's story, a trip down memory lane for the reader is in a speeding vehicle through darkness, with only vague references to stories which have been told in the past, ... or not.  One of Burke's memory is from childhood, a skinny tranny facing down a much bigger bully.  This is the future Michelle.  Kudos to Vachhs for writing a narrative, not a constant summation of the last seventeen installments, for keeping true to Burke and for not wasting loyal readers' time.  I would not call myself a loyal reader

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