Larry Bassett's Reviews > Blossom

Blossom by Andrew Vachss
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Jul 23, 12

bookshelves: crime, mystery
Read from July 16 to 20, 2012

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 segments, regular rest stops along the way. I hesitate to call them chapters because some are so short. A longer chapter might be a lesson in boxing (43) or how to survive in prison (45).

Some people find Burke depressing. But there is some humor here and there:

”I’m Burke. Didn’t Virgil describe me?”
Her smile didn’t show her teeth. “Lots of men ain’t so good-looking. That didn’t narrow it down much.”
. . .
The senator wasn’t cut out for crime. He was the kind of man who’d use vanity plates on a getaway car.
. . .
The Mole shambled up to us, seating himself on the cut-down oil drum he uses for a deck chair. Greeted me the same way he answers his phone . . . by waiting for someone to speak.
. . .
“I’m looking forward to us doing business.”
“Me too.” As sincere as any real estate broker ever was.


We have a flash of a further introduction of probably the strangest family you will ever meet: Michelle, Terry and Mole are regulars so far in the series:
Michelle, the beautiful transsexual hooker. The slickest hustler I ever knew. The woman who made Terry her son. The strange, lovely woman who danced for years with the Mole. Never touching. But she’d never change partners.


I would say the first forty-seven pages of the book are Burke Lite. We have all the usual characters and a complete mini-story about a kidnapped boy who has been in captivity for quite a few years with a surprise ending. As usual, this is in NYC but Burke leaves The City destined for Chicago. And we are still waiting for Blossom to show her face. Her name first appears at about page 100 of a 250 page book.

Here are some of the freaks that are a part of Burke’s world:
“. . . Me, I don’t know about this stuff. Freak stuff. But you know them . . .”
Them. Humans who kill for love. Torture for fun. They set fires to watch the flames. Black-glove rapists. Snuff-film directors. Trophy-takers. Baby-fuckers. Pain turns on the switch. Blood lubricates the machinery. Then the power-rush comes. And they do too.


One of my pet peeves is the absence of birth control or safe sex in most books that include sex in the story. Blossom covers vasectomies (Burke had one years ago.), condoms (Blossom won’t have sex without one.) and Norplant (Blossom’s preferred birth control in the late 1980s, the time of the book.).

Your word for the day from Blossom: Burke is looking for a freak who is a piquerist. Give up?

It’s a pathological condition; it means the realization of sexual satisfaction from penetrating a victim by sniper activity. Or stab wounds, or even bites.


I am enjoying reading the Burke series by Andres Vachss in order. There are references that become more understandable and periodic experiences of reading as a character from a prior book is developed or explained more fully. Four stars for Blossom. I am looking forward to reading the sixth book in the series.

Oh yes. Burke goes back to his hometown of NYC at the end of this book. His dog Pansy will be glad to see him.
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Reading Progress

07/20/2012 page 127
50.0% "The kind of knowledge you will get from Burke: "You want to make obscene calls, you go where the phone book's the thickest.""

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