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(Burke #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,438 ratings  ·  225 reviews
Burke's newest client is a woman named Flood, who has the face of an angel, the body of a high-priced stripper, and the skills of a professional executioner.  She wants Burke to find a monster for her—so she can kill him with her bare hands.

In this cauterizing thriller, Andrew Vachss's renegade investigator teams up with a lethally gifted avenger to follow a child's murder
Paperback, 341 pages
Published 1998 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published September 23rd 1985)
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3.95  · 
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 ·  3,438 ratings  ·  225 reviews

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I was a rabid fan of Andrew Vachss before I even got to page 1 of Flood...and not just because of the kick ass eye patch.

Vachss has devoted his adult life to protecing children from two-legged predators. In his introduction to this novel, he is unabashedly honest that his purpose in writing this story (and the subsequent books in the series) was to educate people about the brutal and wide-spread reality of child abuse, and of the need to protect our young ones before, in our apathy or ignoranc
Apr 22, 2010 rated it liked it
You say you want a hard-boiled gritty crime novel? Well, you can read Andrew Vachss’s series about Burke, but you better stock up on anti-depressants and be prepared to give up any faith in humanity you might have.

Burke is a lot of things. A former mercenary, a scam artist, an ex-convict, and an unlicensed sort-of private detective, but he thinks of his full-time occupation as survivor. Raised as an orphan in foster care and jail, Burke now gives new meaning to the word ‘paranoid’. His office/ap
Dan Schwent
Dec 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
A woman named Flood shows up at Burke's office and hires him to find a child molester calling himself the Cobra so she can kill him with her bare hands. Can Burke navigate the cesspools of New York and bring in the Cobra?

You know a crime book is going to be good when the author has an eye patch. I've been aware of Andrew Vachss for a long time. Partly because of his work as a lawyer but mostly because Joe Lansdale based his Veil character on him. Does Flood live up to my eye patch-fueled expecta
Apr 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: black-as-night
What's the grimmest, bleakest, most depressing subject you could hope to visit in a noir novel? Yeah that's where Vachss takes you with his series of books featuring private eye, vigilante, loner, paranoiac, violent bastard, Burke.

As a first instalment, Flood takes you to places that you probably don't want to go, describes in depth things you probably don't want to think about and generally makes you feel like the world has fallen about as far from the light as it is possible without becoming a
Cathy DuPont
Jun 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I finished reading Flood, I put the book down and said to myself, “I can’t read Vachss again and I want to take a shower to get the grime off me.” However, in retrospect how often does a book leave such a strong impression on your psyche? How often does a book leave such intense and raw feelings?

The subject, the exploitation of children including snuff films and pornography, was handled by Vachss with kid gloves, with very few literal descriptions. He gives you enough information to let yo
Sep 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
One of the most disturbing books I've read in a long time. Child rape and murder are at the heart of this very dark mystery thriller which is the first of the Burke series by Andrew Vachss. The writing is great and I really liked the main character Burke. He's not a white hat good guy but he is the right kind of character to go after the villains that exist in the story. In the end, I just found the subject matter to be so difficult that I couldn't rate it higher than three stars.
Jul 30, 2012 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
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars.

Flood is like a police procedural (only with a private eye). It involves the main character's efforts at finding a (truly disgusting) criminal. Where this book shines is its blend of humor and very dark themes, as well as its strong sense of noir.

Where this lost some points from me, however, is just how dated it is, and not just in its outdated technology and references. For some reason, everyone loved ninjas and the idea of a romanticized, "mystical" martial arts in the '80s, and Fl
Ever-paranoid ex-con Burke is contacted at his uber-secret astroturfed office apartment by Michelle Flood, a young karate expert looking for a dude that calls himself the Cobra. Flood wants to kill the Cobra as revenge for raping and murdering a friend's child and wants Burke to help her find him. To this end, Burke and Flood descend into a dangerous, sordid pre-Giuliani 1980s New York filled with child molesters, snuff film producers and all manner of creeps & sadists. Sound kinda awesome? ...more
Nov 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
FLOOD by Andrew Vachss is 12 hours and 10 minutes in MP3 form. It is narrated by Christopher Lane. FLOOD is #1 in the Burke series.

Brief Description:

Burke’s newest client is a woman named Flood, who has the face of an angel, the body of a high-priced stripper, and the skills of a professional executioner. She wants Burke to find a monster for her -- so she can kill him with her bare hands.
In this cauterizing thriller, Andrew Vachss’s renegade private eye teams up with a lethally gifted avenger t
Mike (the Paladin)
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, action
This was the first book I'd read by Andrew Vachss. The next was very much like a graphic novel without the drawings. This book carries the feel of pulp fiction but with a bit more blood. Sort of "Noir-Gritty Action-Pulp-mystery-Thriller"....

Clear as mud? Cool.

It might be sort of like if Kenneth Robeson (Lester Dent) and Ilona Andrews (Ilona Gordon) had a collaboration?????

Oh well...our "protagonist" Burke is contacted by our co-protagonist, Flood for help finding a man...a person...a monster.

John Culuris
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-shelf, 5-star
The first entry in the respected and often controversial series. And it was my introduction to it. Written, as I understand it, as the author’s attempt to bring things like child abuse to light by stealth when he could get no one to listen otherwise. The novel failed to do this as well, at least initially. Publishers loved everything about the book except where it dove too realistically into the disturbing and morally corrupt side of life. Today we know Vachss was right, that things like this ex ...more

Burke's newest client is named Flood, a young woman, trained in martial arts but naive about the ways of the street who is hunting the man who killed her best friend's child. Flood hears of Burke and enlists his help to find a monster for her, so she can kill him with her bare hands. Flood is the first novel featuring the anti-hero Burke, and the best place to get to know him. Later novels build on top of this introduction. Burke is not a happy man and is filled with an emptiness he calls "The Z
Nov 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
Vachss depicted a very dark and dirty underground New York in which every corner lurked danger and someone in distress. While the characters themselves are quite memorable, I found Burke’s dialogue a times over the top – I didn’t particularly see the need for him to reinforce just how bad he is every few pages. The story itself was ok, Burke (a quasi PI) is enlisted by femme fatale Flood to find a known ‘freak’ who preys on children. Along the way we’re introduced to Max the Silent, Mole and a f ...more
Ben Brackett
Feb 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
I started in the middle of this novel series, and was extremely disappointed to find this first book almost nothing like I previously had read.

This was full of cliches and overly elaborate plots. There were unnecessary non-essential tidbits or side stories thrown in again and again. And the prose was rambling rather than the clean, short lines of his other novels.

No matter how much you like Vachss and the Burke series, I highly recommend skipping this one and starting later when the author's s
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who love pulp fiction on the dark side
Shelves: books-i-own, mystery
4 Stars

Very dark, gritty, detective-noir featuring our man Burke.

Burke is sought out to find a child predator, killer, stalker, creepazoid. This book follows that journey and then some.

I had no idea what I was reading. There is a creepy feeling I get when reading this, and it has nothing to do with monsters and things that go bump in the night. Child predators bring out the creep factor. Pimps, scuzzballs and foul-ass criminals with no sense of honor.

I will continue to read this series. Enter
Feb 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books, thriller
Burke is a private detective living in the dark netherworld of NY City. He is contacted by a relentless woman, skilled in martial arts but not worldly, who is seeking revenge on a killer/rapist. This is the first of 17 books by Vachss, and Burke has a diverse group of supporting characters, including the Prof, Mole, Michelle, deaf-mute Max, Mama, and two dogs, who who guards his office and the other, who guards his junkyard (co-owned with Mole.) Dark stuff, with a side order of violence.
Benoit Lelièvre
Sep 26, 2011 rated it liked it
This was pretty unique and by that, I mean peculiar. Burke is a great character, a top dog for this kind of literature and Andrew Vachss has an eye for creating smart plots. It's very bubblegummy by times though, almost comic-bookish. It feels a bit immature at times for a novel and borrowing from some weird places. But Andrew Vachss is a major talent, that I can't deny
Raegan Butcher
Apr 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Andrew Vachss is my favorite writer. This is his first novel and it introduces his most famous and enduring character, the mono-named "Burke" and his loyal crew of roughnecks.
Larry Bassett
Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
I think you have to be in a certain mood to read Andrew Vachss. I hope I can figure out what the mood is and replicate it since I have a half dozen more of his books to read. At some point I was pretty sure that I was going to enjoy reading him so I stocked up on cheap used books. I still have that hope. But I did not find Flood, first in the Burke series, as entertaining as I had anticipated based on reading Mask Market several months ago.

There are plenty of good reviews here by readers who lik
Andy Lawless
Dec 03, 2011 rated it really liked it

Burke is jaded, angry and utterly pessimistic. Ex-mercenary, ex-convict, and scam artist who runs a unlisted detective agency that is willing to go beyond the law for justice.

From the intro: "I don’t see myself as a writer, but as a soldier in the only holy war worthy of the name. This [book] was the first shot I fired." ~ Andrew Vachss

Buke takes on the hard unpleasant cases, child rape and murder, snuff films, and other unpleasant subjects. Although the work is fiction, there are people out the
Gail Cooke
Nov 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing when you think that this iconic thriller was first written some 25 years ago. Since then there have been a number of copycats who have tried to imitate Vachss's tough guy narrative or replicate the jaw-dropping cast of characters who dwell in hero Burke's netherworld, but it can't be done. Vachss set the pace when he introduced his quixotic hero, a guy with a record and standards he's set for himself. Burke is a street wise (or more accurately dark alley wise) misfit who takes on cases t ...more
Theresa Leone Davidson
Not really sure how to categorize the book - it was very suspenseful in spots, and the villains in the story are unambiguous and very evil. I did not, however, start to sympathize with the central character, Burke, until the end of the story, and I'm very glad I read Shella and Two Trains Running, both stand-alone books Vachss wrote, before I read this. Despite the fact that both main characters in those two novels are hired killers, you like them from the beginning. In Flood, Burke is helping a ...more
David Ward
Mar 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Flood (Burke #1) by Andrew Vachss (Vintage Books 1985)(Fiction - Mystery) is the first book in the "Burke" series. Burke, who is identified only by that name, is a private eye in New York City who both prowls and serves the underbelly of the Big Apple. Assisted by Max the Silent (a deaf-mute ninja from Tibet disguised as a janitor), the Mole (a brilliant technophile who lives beneath a junkyard protected by the meanest pack of junkyard dogs ever created), the Prophet (disguised as a mentally ill ...more
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
Andrew Vachss might be hands down the most brutal crime fiction writer on the street. The guy has seen some terribly ill shit in his life, and it seeps off the pages of his books. FLOOD is hist first Burke novel, Burke being the one-named anti-hero of his works. Burke lives amongst the dregs of forgotten New York, a by-product of state run orphanges, foster homes, child abuse, and prison. Vachss vividly paints a picture of this whole other world of people who have been so victimized and beaten b ...more
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
Maybe this is just because I was a kid in the 80's and this book is set in the retro 80's, but I loved it. Great book to start a series. A shady private investigator with a basically good heart helps two women. Needless to say... I was really drawn in. This book is good and gritty. Not for the faint of heart, there are descriptions of violence against women and children. I felt they were done in a way important and relevant to the story.
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vachss' first in his Burke series, Burke being an unlicensed investigator and an ex-con ,and could say career criminal.
With Vachss background, his first case is a child murderer, that really shows the underbelly of New York's areas of kiddie porn, hustlers and drugs. And this was written over 25 years ago.
With some gut wrenching, disgusting events at what some perverts do to satisfy their sicko/mental addiction. This was an impressive debut, of hard boiled fiction.
May 13, 2009 rated it liked it
I liked it. There was a bit too much back story for me, but hopefully that will disapear in the next ones.

I like the ecletic characters that he hangs out with/works with. It really adds to the depth of the book.
Apr 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Not really my cup of tea, but very well written. It bugged me that I never learned Flood's first name. Or maybe I missed it. It reinforces my idea that its very complicated to make your living outside the law. I think I will stick to library work.
Beautiful Redemtion
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is positively wonderful.
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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

Other books in the series

Burke (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • Strega (Burke, #2)
  • Blue Belle (Burke, #3)
  • Hard Candy (Burke, #4)
  • Blossom (Burke, #5)
  • 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)
“Roots are nice, but a tree can’t run.” 13 likes
“From the very second that two people sat together around a fire in the forest, there was another human out there who felt better in the dark.” 11 likes
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