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Down in the Zero (Burke #7)

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  1,318 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
   Andrew Vachss has reinvented detective fiction for an age in which guilty secrets are obsolete and murder isn't even worth a news headline. And in the person of his haunted, hell-ridden private eye Burke, Vachss has given us a new kind of hero: a man inured to every evil except the kind that preys on children. 
   Now Burke is back, investigating an epidemic of apparent
Trade Paperback, 259 pages
Published July 1995 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1994)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dan Schwent
Dec 23, 2011 Dan Schwent rated it liked it
Devasted over the death of an innocent on his last case, Burke takes a job that sees him in the Connecticut suburbs investigating a string of teen suicides. Burke's investigations take him into a web of S&M and blackmail that he may never escape...

Andrew Vachss' Burke stories are so bleak that they make the apocalypse look inviting by comparison and this one is no exception. Like the previous tales, Burke's case takes him up against uncomfortable subjects like child abuse. This time, Vachss
Oct 14, 2016 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book portrays Burke in crisis emotionally, even with his family's support. He manages to face up to his problems in Connecticut of all places. I think the change of venue may have spawned a more positive attitude in the NYC's bleakest operator. I don't expect to see it again. :-D
Thomas Strömquist
Vachss writing style is not for me really. I got this and another one at a used books store a long time ago, but sent them both off to someone wanting after finishing this. Hard and brutal, but not terribly engaging. There is fierce competition in crime writing and so I select carefully who to follow. Lots of people seem to think Vachss makes the cut though!
Feb 04, 2009 Eric_W rated it really liked it
Burke, Vachss' anti-hero, is a quasi-detective, part vigilante, who has a soft spot for protecting children. We learn during the course of the novel that he grew up in an orphanage, has no memory of either parent, has served time in prison, where he learned much of his "trade" from the "Prof" who speaks in bizarre rhymes, and was a mercenary in Africa.

In this novel (basically your good, fun, fast, read - great for trains, planes or buses), he is summoned to help protect a young boy whose mother
Tim Warner
Nov 10, 2011 Tim Warner rated it really liked it
I happen to like Andrew Vachss very much. Burke is his own man, a unique individual who isn't someone with whom anyone can really identify. His world is peopled by characters as disparate as the invisible rejects and crazies who are all around us in any city these days, and somehow as connected and interwoven as any tightly-knit family. And Burke's world is the icy, raw and brutal city of New York, where the relentless evil is like a deadly poison, flowing through the streets and the veins of it ...more
Larry Bassett
Feb 28, 2012 Larry Bassett rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, mystery
Published in 1994, Down in the Zero continues the Vachss tradition of women with unusual first names. This time it is Fancy and Charm. It is the seventh book in the eighteen book Burke series.

Vachss introduces a young male character who has skill and daring, moving immediately into a significant role in the book. Randy (“I don’t like my name.) morphs into Sonny after showing that he is a born auto driver who is headed for the Grand Prix or Daytona by the end of the book after putting Burke’s Ply
Tim Niland
Jun 29, 2008 Tim Niland rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008-reads
Burke is out of his natural element again, this time called to a wealthy Connecticut suburb by the son of a former acquaintance who is scared about the rash of apparent suicides among his peers. When Burke investigates, he finds more than he bargains for, including sexual exploitation, blackmail and murder. This was a strange Burke novel, not only was he out of his usual New York setting, but it was as if Vachss was trying to have him establish a father-son relationship between him and his clien ...more
Nik Bramblett
Nov 02, 2012 Nik Bramblett rated it really liked it
I read most of these books back about 15-20 years ago, but there were a couple I missed. Honestly, it's a pretty neat "world" this guy has built, and I think the characters and so forth are intriguing. Basically, there's this guy "Burke," who is a thug with a pretty much nonexistent childhood, who has quite a criminal record, and for some years now has put together a 'family' of other thugs. He's kind of like a 'rough-trade' sort of 'Equalizer,' with a particular bent towards hunting child moles ...more
Jan 11, 2011 Ramzi rated it it was ok
Sub par installment in the Burke series (2.5 stars is more accurate) that finds the "private eye" once again leaving the familiar confines of New York City, this time for the neatly manicured lawns of Fairfield County, CT. Burke's there to look into a rash of suicides that have been affecting the children of the wealthy and, of course, to find an angle to make a buck. He develops a relationship with Randy, the child of an old associate that hires Burke to investigate the suicides. Randy turns ou ...more
Craig Werner
Jun 04, 2014 Craig Werner rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Excellent Burke novel. When I'm finished reading/re-reading the series in order, I'm going to assign five stars to the novel that combines the things I like about the series most effectively (and downplays the parts I'm not crazy about, primarily the occasional sex scene that feels gratuitous). Down in the Zero does a better job than usually integrating the sex into the plot line and demands of character development than it was in the early novels in the series). The focus here is on healing. Bu ...more
Mar 15, 2008 Shawn rated it really liked it
I liked all of the Vachss books. I guess I read most or all of them. But they are really dark; darker than Michael Connelly, modern LA, "noir" detective books where the hero, detective Heironymous Bosch's prostitute mother is an unsolved murder case. In Vachss' (I think it's pronounced "vash") novels EVERYONE's mother is a prostitute--his characters won't even hang out with you if you never blew anybody for money! So it's a bit over the top, but basically Vachss' dark avenger heroes make everybo ...more
Spencer Abbott
Nov 07, 2016 Spencer Abbott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another streamlined effort from Mr. Vachss. As with Blossom, the action is taken out of NYC and the change of venue makes for a slightly more stimulating adventure. Again, my only complaint comes with the unraveling of the final act, which, as with previous novels, always seems a bit rushed. On the other hand, perhaps I've just garnered an affinity for Burke and his ragtag crew and just don't want his escapades to end. At any rate, this one is up there with Hard Candy, Blossom, and just a tad sl ...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
Jul 08, 2012 Joe rated it really liked it
A peculiar book, not Vaachs' best but still a brisk read. The plot is improbable, all the main characters except one are caricatures, and Vaachs lets himself get distracted by two of his favorite topics, S/M and cars. Nonetheless, the book works because it's centered on a relationship that feels real, between super hard-boiled private eye Burke and fragile teenager Randy, whom Burke calls The Kid and in whom he finds himself taking an unexpected fatherly interest, thereby expiating the only act ...more
James Kidd
Nov 12, 2010 James Kidd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As with Blossom, Vachss rings the changes with this one, as Burke heads out of they cesspool that is NY. One of the major strengths of this series is the inter connectivity of the books- in that for a large part of the first half of the book, Burke is dealing with the consequences of his actions at the end of Sacrifice. It makes our lead protagonist a real, flawed character (unlike so many other heroes who shrug off the events of one of book in the next as the reset button is pressed). As to the ...more
Jan 10, 2010 Chris rated it liked it
I have started from the beginning of this series and this was my least favorite so far. I understood that he (Burke) is haunted by the ending of book 6 (Sacrifice). I know it troubles him. However, the whole point of him heading to Connecticut to help Randy because of the suicides was strange, but what was stranger were the people he met there and what went down. For some reason, I just couldn't get into it. I think I like the setting in New York more and when he travelled to Indiana and now to ...more
Jun 14, 2014 Susan added it
Andrew Vachss has reinvented detective fiction for an age in which guilty secrets are obsolete and murder isn't even worth a news headline. And in the person of his haunted, hell-ridden private eye Burke, Vachss has given us a new kind of hero: a man inured to every evil except the kind that preys on children.
Now Burke is back, investigating an epidemic of apparent suicides among teenagers of a wealthy Connecticut suburb. There he discovers a sinister connection between the anguish of the youn
Oct 01, 2013 Lara rated it really liked it
Probably my favorite Burke novel. For a lot of reasons--for Burke proving he can function outside of his usual habitat, for the slow and realistic contact he's able to make with Randy, for the way his found family accepts Randy as kin. And for Fancy, and his relationship with her, and for being the very first book to introduce the concept of S&M to me and immediately make clear that it's only shameful if you want it to be, and that there's nothing inherently wrong with it. Which, for a well- ...more
May 27, 2012 Iris rated it it was amazing
One of my absolute favourites. Gives a VERY clear idea about how LETHAL emotional abuse is, and dispenses with the idiotic opinion that "that is not really abuse...". Emotionally abusing children is RAPE with words, and this is presented succinctly throughout. And on the brighter side, the way Burke becomes a mentor and Father-substitute to the boy (he, who says he'll never have children!), is just incredibly touching. HIGHLY recommend to anybody, especially to "Therapists"!
Aug 07, 2013 David rated it liked it
I grew up in a home of mental and physical abuse of many years' duration, and all of Vachss's work speaks to me on a level I cannot summon up the right vocabulary for. I simply love this book! That said, it is improbable in plot and all of Vachss's work is bleak - this one bleaker than most. I suppose on some level when I read his Burke character I fantasize that I could be like him. Regardless, I have been fascinated with Vachss the actual man for going on thirty years.
Feb 03, 2013 Karl rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books. It was my first Andrew Vachss book and it captured some feelings that I was dealing with at the time. It introduced me to Red Stripe beer and I finally looked up music by Judy Henske, one of Burke's favorites. As an author, Andrew Vachss really manages to make it all very real to the reader. He captures something that makes it more than a story - real life. One of the best book series that I have ever read.
Jan 17, 2014 NightAuditMan rated it really liked it
Yet again another tale where Burke finds himself in somewhat unfamiliar territory. Called in by the son of an old acquaintance, Burke must solve the mystery of a rash of teen suicides. The stakes are high as the son thinks he's next.

Another solid read front start to finish, although Burke his off his usual game due to the events of the last yarn.
Feb 17, 2008 Jennie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: James Ellroy, Lee Child fans, crime fans
Shelves: crime
I really respect Andrew Vachss and I enjoy the brutality of his writing.

This Burke novel was pretty good, but I now have to admit that the way his associate, The Prof, always has to rhyme kinda bugs me.

At any rate, not the strongest entry in the series, but a quick read that holds your interest pretty well.
Burke and his chosen family are another group of criminals doing the work of the angels that I adore. I also miss him badly now that the Burke series seems to have come to an end. Luckily, Andrew Vachss writes enthralling stories no matter who the main character is.
David Ward
Jun 30, 2011 David Ward rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries, fiction
Down In The Zero (Burke #7) by Andrew Vachss (Vintage Crimes 1994) (Fiction - Mystery) opens with a series of suicides by privileged young people that leads back to a sadomasochistic underground led by a pair of gorgeous twins named Fancy and Charm. My rating: 6/10, finished 7/4/11.
Oct 27, 2015 Marna rated it liked it
I kind of forgot about these and might try and acquire a few earlier on in the series (I didn't realize this was a series because the library just had like, two of these) for my mystery month (which I've decided will occur in November).
Mar 14, 2013 Charles rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
This series is no joke. Proceed carefully. This was my last one. I couldn't take any more.
Jul 25, 2012 Morey rated it liked it
I can't review books i forget most of them as soon as I read them. it was Vachss so yeah it was good.
Jan 04, 2009 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still reading this of course, but it might as well be already read. Vacchs is so good. Awesome.
Brian Oldham
Dec 09, 2011 Brian Oldham rated it really liked it
Vachss is a true advocate for children and a wonderful writer. He lives the life he writes about in his books. His website is a treasure
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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)
  • Blossom (Burke, #5)
  • Sacrifice (Burke, #6)
  • Footsteps of the Hawk (Burke, #8)
  • False Allegations (Burke, #9)
  • Safe House (Burke, #10)
  • Choice of Evil (Burke, #11)

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