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Blackjack (Cross (novels) #1)

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  364 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
TO:  UNIT 3 Chicago
SUBJECT:  Specimen Retrieval
TARGET: Shadowy hunter-killer teams, ID'ed via signature kills worldwide. Identifiable only by skull-spine removal from victims. No witnesses, no forensics, no particular race targeted. On rare occasions, scraps of what appear to be playing cards found at murder sites.
OBJECTIVE: Locate and
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published July 1st 2012)
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I almost listed this as a comic. I think it is one, although it was kind of a fun, thrilling action novel albeit with over-blown characters & scenarios that were ridiculous at times. It's a wonder why anyone would ever have anything to do with the group at all given both their reputation & actions. The main mystery is left dangling, but many others go full circle. I see this is the first in a series, but I'm positive I can live without reading any more. If I saw it in graphic novel forma ...more
Daniel Sevitt
Dec 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: part-of-a-series
I've read enough Andrew Vachss to know that he isn't always at the top of his game, but this was completely rubbish. It never made sense and the elements never cohered in this weird mash up of streetwise mercenaries taking on a supernatural cloud of murder... or something. Then the whole thing concludes 40 pages before the end of the book, so Vachss rehashes an old short story and tacks it on as an "epilogue". Really poor stuff.
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Book Review

For those who don't know Vachss, the man doesn't like classifications, particularly where it concerns his novels, comic books, and other writings. He'll be quick to point out that he has no intention of delivering his dark message via some angelic figure (and so Burke was born). He'll also tell you (particularly where it concerns his Burke series) that yeah, it's fiction, but the world described is real.

Vachss is a predator who preys on predatory pedophiles.

Blackjack is a little dif
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
3 stars. Although I really did enjoy this book, it is familiar territory. The main story is a re-imagining of the one already told in Dark Horse Comics' Predator: Race War miniseries. This book is an improvement on that story as one gets Vachss' full prose with all of the character details and nuance that don't come through in the comic medium (at least not as Dark Horse does comics). If you ever wanted Vachss to write a speculative horror novel, this is as close as you're going to get. At the e ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Interesting book. This is the second book by Andrew Vachss I've read. The first impessed me, I liked it and the library had this one on hand. The first book (Flood) was well written with complete if somewhat unlikely characters.

This book is very much a graphic novel (where the Cross character seems to have started) without the pictures. We have a "Bondesk" group of villains vs. group of "anti-hero" misfits and some kind of mystery force or being killing "killers".

There are some standard adventu
Evangeline Jennings
Jun 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Andrew Vachss has been one of my very favourite writers for the longest time. I own the complete Burke collection and it is no exaggeration to say that Vachss, Burke, Michelle et al have been a major influence not only on my own writing, but also on my decision to try my hand at fiction in the first place.

So I approached BLACKJACK as a fan. I left it feeling sadly disappointed.

It's just very bad.

It reads like old leftover stories cobbled together and blended in a pretense at creating a novel. Wh
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Not his best work, but still gets his points across well. The social dynamics of Cross' Crew are awesome to see, and truly the knowledge that family is something more than birth is life changing.
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
These are barely warmed-up leftovers that for a bonus flirt with trademark and copyright violations.

If you read any author long enough there's a pretty good chance you're going to recognize bits and pieces from their previous works, and I'm certainly willing to forgive that up to a point, as well as stretching the definitions of "novel-length". But what Andrew Vachss has done here is expand the story he created for Predator: Race War with some alterations so that the killer is no longer an extra
Sep 17, 2013 rated it liked it
I miss Burke.

I know this is a Cross story, but I miss Burke. I miss Max & Mole & Terry & the Prof & Michelle & Clarence. I really miss Pansy...

But this is a Cross story. And it was good, but Cross lacks something that Burke had. Heart? I dunno.

Vachss' writing is still as gritty and hard boiled as ever, not for the faint of heart.

But I still miss Burke...
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am never disappointed by Vachss' writing. I find his exploration of morality fascinating. Cross is a new character for me, and I very much enjoyed him.
Chris Toney
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
This was an interesting story but it ends with too many items unresolved. This is a bit of a cliffhanger and I don't plan to read the next book.
May 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: recentlyread
A weirder book than it seemed at first.
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another great read from Andrew Vachss, this time with Cross and his crew in Chicago.
Alice Benson
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I listened to this book on a road trip, and it was fairly entertaining, but very disjointed. So disjointed, it was difficult, at times, to follow the story. Lots of loose ends.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A strange book. Shows some of the usual Vachss angst but instead Cross and his crew are mercenaries. They mainly try to collect payments from both sides. Still a great book
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Burke (or variation thereof) meets PREDATOR...
Brett Thomasson
May 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
After lawyer, child protection advocate and author Andrew Vachss ended his best-known Burke series with 2008's Another Life, he published several standalone novels before taking a crack at another recurring series. When he did in 2012, using the mercenary Cross and his crew for hire, he didn't really break new ground.

Blackjack borrows the story Vachss wrote for the Dark Horse comic book Predator: Race War in the early 1990s and tweaks it to remove references to the hunting alien made famous by A
Robert Peterson
Mar 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dan Downing
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
It has been a long time since I picked up "Flood", Vachss' first novel, and was blown away by it. Since then I have read as much of his material as I could find, including a couple of comic books.
That is not totally surprising, since in many ways what Vachss writes are drawingless cartoon fantasies for adults. His work is laced with a hard hardcore of fact and reality. His is not the world one wants to live in, not the world one wants for ones children. Sadly, much of what he describes is the re
David Ward
Jan 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, fiction, mysteries
Blackjack (Cross #1) by Andrew Vachss (Vintage Books 2012)(Fiction - Mystery) is the start of a new series by a fine writer. It appears to be an adaptation of a comic book (pardon me: "graphic novel") character which the author has previously published. I enjoyed this novel for the most part, and after reading several reviews, I do not wish to pile on with harsh criticism. Nevertheless, I must ask: is there really any difference in the Burke cast of characters and the Cross set? They all live in ...more
Alan Mills
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-crime
One of the Cross series: someone is killing people, mutilating the bodies and removing spines. A mysterious quasi-governmental group hires Cross to kill the killer. The usual mayhem, focused on child abuse (Vachss' trademark--and the reason he writes all these books), ensues.

The Cross series is not written in a straightforward narrative style. Vachss jumps back and forth from event to event...sometimes in different time periods. So this series demands more from the reader than many mystery/thri
John Grazide
Oct 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Ummm, what was that? I had no idea about that this was an extension of a comic series that the author did. As I was explaining the story I said it was like a Predator type thing that was being hunted. And sure enough it was. Had I known that going into this story I may have had different expectations. But I didn't so I was a little disappointed. The characters are a little larger than life, and that's okay, but again - I wasn't properly prepared. Before I get into book two of this series I will ...more
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This novel underlines the idea that there is a difference between writing and visual storytelling. I liked the story, but was perplexed by the story flow. When I learned that Blackjack was a graphic novel, the style fell more into place. What never really became clear, though, was the nature of the unknown player in the story. I suppose, also, that I was, as the medical cliche sort of goes, looking for horses when I was staring straight at a zebra in the high grass. I need to find the graphic no ...more
Brian Oldham
Jul 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
Andrew Vachss is probably the most qualified author in this genre, and he is a sterling writer. He writes about the dark side of life and his books are dark. They are crushingly dark because they are as real as you can get. He forces you to look at the danger and cold heartedness of people at a certain level in society. You knew about this but never look at it. He was a policeman, detective, lawyer, advocate and crusader. He invented court room dogs, a wonderful idea.

He makes Jo Nesbo look mild
Scott Vout
Continuing in my current mode of reading new authors to me, I gave this one a try.


took me a bit to figure out where this one was going. Reminded me of a Predator movie. Epic evil-good vs evil.

I was hooked in the first chapter, but still trying to figure out why he needed the last chapter.
Lots of quality kills per minute. A couple of intriguing characters.

Apparently it is book one in a series. Not sure I enjoyed it enough to continue on.

Not sure what else to say.
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was quite surprised by this book as I hadn't expected the supernatural parts of the story, but being a fantasy fangirl I definitely liked it. I also think that Vachss did a perfect job in describing the characters, I had very vivid pictures of them in my mind. As usual, I took me some time to get used to the clipped and precise writing as I am not a native speaker, but as soon as you get into the rhythm of Vachss' writing everything is fine. Looking forward to reading the other Cross novels.
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
I kept hoping it would get better, but it didn't. The ending was disappointing. Characters weren't believable and the whole smoke thing was just weird. I had a tough time wrapping my head around Alex Cross being a thug, and not a heroic police detective as is true for another Alex Cross on James Patterson books.
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Really a graphic novel without the graphics. Cliched stereotypes for characters. Plot is all but incomprehensible and fragmented by the authors decision to present the story in brief episodes, often skipping from scene to scene with little connection. Having not read Vachss since his stylish hard-boiled Burke novels in the 1980's, this was a real disappointment.
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: thriller, unfinished
Vachss never changes. The first few Burke books were very interesting, especially "Flood." But his writing quickly became formulaic. This title does nothing to change my mind. And it doesn't even have Patty for fun.
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Vachss is one of my favorite authors. This was certainly an interesting story with a supernatural twist to it, but not as good as some of his other works. I feel like it could have been expanded more.
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Goodreads Librari...: To link? If so how? 3 152 Aug 01, 2012 11:01PM  
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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

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