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Blossom (Burke #5)

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  1,471 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
In the figure of Burke, Andrew Vachss has given contemporary crime fiction one of its most mesmerizing characters. An abused child raised in orphanages, foster homes, and prisons, Burke is a career criminal and outlaw who steals and scams for a living. 
   In Blossom, an old cellmate has summoned Burke to a fading Indiana mill town, where a young boy is charged with a crime
Paperback, 255 pages
Published October 29th 1996 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1990)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dan Schwent
Feb 22, 2011 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
Burke leaves the Big Apple behind to help a former cellmate in a small town in Indiana. Virgil, the cellmate, has a nephew that's been accused of gunning down couples at a local lovers' lane. Can Burke figure out who the real killer is before he strikes again? And what about the mysterious Blossom who's tugging at Burke's heartstrings?

This Burke book was one of my favorites so far. Burke does a lot more detective work than usual and Vachss doesn't rely on the usual supporting cast. While the Pro
Larry Bassett
Jul 03, 2012 Larry Bassett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, mystery
I read one of the later Burke books and decided that I would like to try reading the series and to read it in order. So now I am on #5. I know from looking ahead that all the titles are not the names of women who have a relationship with Burke. He does bounce from woman to woman and I am hesitant to say the women are a love interest since Burke is not the most emotional guy around. I love you is just not much in his vocabulary.

I like short chapters and Blossom gets points from me for having 186
Apr 08, 2014 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit different from the others in the series as action all takes place out of the city and for the most part, without Burke's gang (including his dog) - thought that might take away from it a bit but it didn't as it allows scope for some more about Burke's own character and background and Blossom herself is an intriguing figure who goes from a bit part in the first half of the book to the main item in the latter half. So in all in all, more of the same excellent but incredibly bleak material th ...more
Tim Niland
Jun 20, 2008 Tim Niland rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008-reads
You can take the man out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the man. That is what Vachss' anti-hero, con-man and unlicensed private investigator Burke finds out when he is called to Indiana to help his former cell mate's nephew, who is accused of a string of murders. With Burke away from his network of New York City accomplices, he must look for help where ever he can get it, including a blond waitress named Blossom, who is much more than she seems. This was another fine Burke novel ...more
Nov 23, 2008 Ian rated it it was amazing
All Vacchs stuff is great. He is an exclusively child lawyer and his books are about investigations involving child abuse, sexual exploitation etc. With a particularly noir slant.
I've added this one, but there were many others this summer: Hard Candy, Flood, Strega, Blue Belle, Everybody Pays, and Only Child. This past Friday, I got the compilaton of Blues Music which he put out to go along with teh publication in 1998 of Safe House. It is a fabulous, focussed Blues set. Mainly stinging electri
Janne S
May 22, 2017 Janne S rated it really liked it
As usual, I listened to this book. I'd forgotten how dark a writer Mr. Vachss is. That being said, he sure knows how to make you feel filthy, in need of a bath or scrub down and mad at the world of people who prey on the vulnerable. This was a good now, I'll dive in for some more darkness.
The book was okay. The chapters in this one were very short which for reasons unknown to me, I tend to be able to get through books like that quicker. What I really didn't like about the book was the fact that it was written in short choppy sentences. It could have used a lot more detail. I had a lot of difficulty picturing any scene of the book in my head and it changed scenes so often and suddenly it was a little hard to keep up. Another problem that I had with the book was the fact that it en ...more
John Culuris
Oct 02, 2016 John Culuris rated it liked it
You run a risk when you remove a series character from his environment. You take away a large part of what the reader comes to the book expecting. Vachss attempts to counteract this by spending some time watching Burke, his protagonist, operate in and around the New York City cesspool before heading out to Indiana to help a “brother.” In Burke’s world a brother is someone for whom there nothing you will not do. Burke is asked to determine whether a kid living in his brother’s house is the sniper ...more
Spencer Abbott
Nov 04, 2016 Spencer Abbott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vachss continues the roll he began with Hard Candy: a more stream-lined story, characters gelling and feeling more like characters not caricatures, excellent pacing. Only complaint is that the ending came a little rushed (not as rushed as, say, Blue Belle, but it could easily have been stretched out another 10 pages or so, given the intricacy and pacing of the set-up). Without giving too much away, our antihero, Burke, leaves the "safety" of NYC for a jaunt in the Midwest. The change of venue is ...more
Jul 30, 2012 Harry rated it it was amazing
What did I think? This guy's the king of "Noir", is what I think. Andrew Vachss, a lawyer and author with a penchant for the welfare of kids and women - especially the kids - has created Burke to let some steam escape.

Burke's world is not the world you and I live in. Burke exists in NYC but he is not seen in it. When society mentions the name "Burke" it is in the fashion of a legend: a myth, someone who is not real. Burke likes it that way.

With unforgettable characters fully developed over a lon
John Grazide
Apr 17, 2015 John Grazide rated it liked it
Well book #5 in the Burke series had a few short comings. It seemed hurried. At first I thought the author was writing that way to make the reader feel the urgency of the situation. But that wasn't it. Because once Burke gets to where he has to go it takes a long time to get e scent to the killer and ultimately catch him. And the end came so fast I had to re-read to make sure I didn't miss anything. Because the end the killer is shot and all Burke sees is a flash of pink. I had to go back and se ...more
Craig Werner
Mar 13, 2013 Craig Werner rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
An excellent Burke novel. Vachss shifts the setting from New York to Indiana, where Burke goes to help out his "brother"--family in Vachss work is never a matter of biology--Virgil, whose nephew has been accused of murder. The ingredients of the book are familiar: the underworld where right wing politics and sexual predation mingle; the clear-eyed moral vision which has nothing to do with conventional religion; Burke's ongoing struggle with his dark side; the presence of a beautiful, intriguing ...more
Nov 28, 2010 Ramzi rated it liked it
Enjoyable installment in the Burke series and the first one I've read that takes him out of his native habitat of New York City. Burke is lured out to the midwest to help a former prison buddy clear his nephew's name of murder. In the process, he starts up a relationship with a young woman who also hunts the killer but for different reasons altogether. Obviously the theme of society "making its own monsters" and the failure of what to do with them is once again addressed and we get to see Burke ...more
Jun 14, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
In Blossom, an old cellmate has summoned Burke to a fading Indiana mill town, where a young boy is charged with a crime he didn't commit and a twisted serial sniper has turned a local lovers' lane into a killing field. And it's here that Burke meets Blossom, the brilliant, beautiful young woman who has her own reasons for finding the murderer—and her own idea of vengeance. Dense with atmosphere, savagely convincing, this is Vachss at his uncompromising best.
Sep 21, 2008 NightAuditMan rated it really liked it
A lot of reviews seem to indicate that out of the Burke series this one is perhaps the weakest. Notably due to the fact that Burke is out of his element, not in New York and the usual cast of characters are mostly absent.

I, however, think that for all of those same reasons this book is more interesting. Seeing Burke work with the same drive as he usually does in a place he doesn't know or understand makes it all that more compelling. I always eat up Vachss's work but this one more so.

James Kidd
Nov 12, 2010 James Kidd rated it it was amazing
Vachsss shakes the scene up with Burke leaving Ny to help out his prison brother. In doing so he meets Blossom. And there he makes a connection missing since Blue Belle, but on nowhere the same magnitude. This is a search for a killer, which only Burke can find as he knows this type of freaky so well. A bit too much perhaps is made of just how well Burke knows the freaks and how he can attune himself to them, but nonetheless, a story that rolls by and which I read again in a matter of days.
Feb 03, 2013 Karl rated it it was amazing
Burke leaves New York City! That alone should be enough to end Burke since he relies so heavily on the camouflage of his element. But help from the most unlikely element gives him the little extra he needs to take care of his chosen family. If you ever needed someone to care about what happens to you in the harsh light of life, it would be Burke. One of the best book series that I have ever read.
Jul 19, 2009 Ashvin rated it liked it
I love Andrew Vachss. Make no mistake, it's trashy, but it's fun as hell to read and filled with crazy almost comic-book scenes. I also like his general stance on the characters: tolerance for people of all types (one of the main characters in the series is a person who identifies as a female but is in a male's body), but none for the monsters of the world.
Jul 17, 2009 John rated it it was ok
If this was the first of Vachss' books that I read I probably wouldn't read any of his other work. His usual characters are missing since the story takes place out of NYC. I read his four previous books and loved them. This book really suffers from the absence of all the characters that usually surround Vachss' central character, Burke.
David Ward
Apr 01, 2011 David Ward rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries, fiction
Blossom (Burke #5) by Andrew Vachss (Vintage Books 1990) (Fiction - Mystery) is a step down from the previous Burke novels. This one takes Burke on the road to rural Indiana to help an old convict friend whose nephew has been arrested for a crime he says he did not commit. I miss the author's usual cast of characters. My rating: 6/10, finished 4/1/11.
Aug 01, 2008 Jason rated it really liked it
Not the best Burke book I've read, but it's still Burke and it's pretty good.

This one takes him out of NYC which is a nice change of pace, but it definately misses the cast of supporting characters.

Previous Burke novels, while adhering to a formula, have always felt kind of natural, but this one did not.
Aug 26, 2013 Walt rated it really liked it
Burkes travels to Indiana to help out the nephew of a prison buddy. While uncovering the truth about whether or not the boy is actually the serial killer prosecutors say he is Burke also meets and romances the beautiful Blossom and tracks down a white supremacist sniper (quite obviously modeled after an actual criminal). I found the change of scene and characters refreshing. Recommended.
This was the story where I started to fall out of love with Andrew Vachss and the Burke series. A lot of good stories came after this one and Burke and his team were still entertaining, but the series started to move away from hardboiled crime fiction to more of a soapbox for issues important to the author. Not a bad thing, it just changed the tone of the stories for me.
Sep 03, 2014 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: burke
Burke heads to the Midwest to help his "brother", a former cellmate. After the first four in the series, a unique change to have him out of his element - of the gritty back alleys of New York.
Burke's mission in life to get the, freaks/predator's/monster's off the streets, even in the Midwest....let's the reader know they are everywhere.
Apr 16, 2016 Nate rated it really liked it
Burke’s departure from his usual stomping grounds of beyond-seedy New York to some small Indiana town was totally refreshing, and this book’s case of a sniper-sex-killer preying on local couples at the lovers’ lanes was gripping and extremely suspenseful. More later.
Mithun Prasad
Apr 24, 2016 Mithun Prasad rated it liked it
Shelves: in-my-library
My first Andrew Vachss book.
Should have started with 'Flood', I guess.
Writing is hard, gritty and uncompromising, just the way I like, but not sure if I consider the plot at the same level.
Then again, should have started with 'Flood.'

Blair Erotica
This was an interesting story, but I found it far too choppy. The characters ranged from being fascinating to stereotypes and a bit more time spent explaining things would go a long way toward making the book more enjoyable.
Ben Brackett
May 18, 2014 Ben Brackett rated it it was ok
Ugh. It's like these books are written by a 12 year old boy. The protagonist's tough guy bravado is so overdone its laughable. There's ton of things crammed in you can tell that the author thought sounded cool, but then over explains to the point where it's tiresome.
Heather Crawford
Slow to start, roller coaster middle, and the end tapered and dropped. I wasn't impressed with this one. There was a lot of sub plot that took the driver's seat more then the main plot did. Not his best work in my opinion.
Sep 08, 2014 Lynn rated it really liked it
Great series ...... gritty and dark. Burke leaves NYC for once.
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Andrew Vachss has been a federal investigator in sexually transmitted diseases, a social-services caseworker, a labor organizer, and has directed a maximum-security prison for “aggressive-violent” youth. Now a lawyer in private practice, he represents children and youths exclusively. He is the author of numerous novels, including the Burke series, two collections of short stories, and a wide varie ...more
More about Andrew Vachss...

Other Books in the Series

Burke (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • Flood (Burke, #1)
  • Strega (Burke, #2)
  • Blue Belle (Burke, #3)
  • Hard Candy (Burke, #4)
  • Sacrifice (Burke, #6)
  • Down in the Zero (Burke, #7)
  • Footsteps of the Hawk (Burke, #8)
  • False Allegations (Burke, #9)
  • Safe House (Burke, #10)
  • Choice of Evil (Burke, #11)

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