Tim Niland's Reviews > Haiku

Haiku by Andrew Vachss
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's review
Nov 20, 09

bookshelves: 2009-reads
Read in November, 2009

After his amazing Burke series of crime fiction, many fans wondered what Vachss could do as an encore. The answer turns out to be more of the same, with new characters while still keeping the streetwise zeitgeist that made the Burke novels so effective. Ho was a sensei, a master of the martial arts who ran his own dojo and had a large number of adoring students. When his advice to a student unwittingly leads to her brutal murder, he is overcome by guilt and shame. Closing his dojo and renouncing all of his worldly possessions, he joins the homeless of New York City. There he builds a strong core group of fellow travelers, all carrying a burden. From schizophrenia to alcoholism and post traumatic stress disorder, they still make a potent unit, able to protect each other from harm. One of the members of this ad-hoc family is an obsessive collector or pulp detective paperbacks, and when the hiding place of his collection is threatened, the group must come together to hatch a plan to save it. What is interesting about this book is Vachss' humane and compassionate treatment of his homeless characters. Whatever problems they may have, they are far from "invisible men," they are flesh and blood human beings. The plot and action is pure Vachss, streetwise and tough, yet humble and thoughtful. It is a masterful story and and you will never look at the homeless the same way again after reading it.
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