Andrew's Vachss' Burke series
Thanks to this thread I started thinking about my favorite crime fiction books and remembered Vachss. I actually quit reading the series after book 13 (just started reading other stuff and kind of forgot about them) but just looked and there are 18 books in the series. The 18th (and last) book in the series just came out in December.
The Burke Series is a fictional 18-book series written by Andrew Vachss, centered around a man named Burke and his battle against what he labels freaks; Child abusers.
The series is written from Burke's perspective in the first person.
The first book, Flood, was published in 1985, the 18th and final novel, Another Life, was published in December, 2008.
Burke was abandoned at an early age by his a mother he barely remembers and a father he never met. He was passed around from surrogate home to surrogate through his early years. It is revealed that Burke was abused in the various homes he went to, severely scarring his mental state.
In his teenage years, Burke lived on the streets with gangs of other abandoned, abused children. Throughout the series Burke describes those days as when he was a cowboy. Burke states he always intended to die robbing a convenience store or in a gang war.
Burke went to prison twice, and in prison found friends that become part of his Family of Choice. Of the several life long companions, Burke finds a fatherly figure known as the Prof in his first stay in prison. Short for both Professor and Prophet, depending on whose listening.
The Prof teaches Burke a philosophy that Burke operates by for the rest of his life: Survive. The Prof shows Burke how to stay alive without fighting, how to use knowledge, any knowledge he can get, to have at his disposal. Burke takes this to heart, and when he is released from prison before the Prof, Burke waits for his mentor and picks him up when he himself is released.
Burke also meets and adopts as his brother a man known as Max the Silent sometimes extended to Max the Silent, widowmaking, wind of death. Max is a Mongolian warrior, and is deaf and mute.
Burke comes to know another man known as the Mole, an anti-Nazi Jew who specializes in bombs, weaponry, breaking and entering, biology and computer hacking.
Burke moves on to a career of hijacking after his release from prison, and after a crooked deal with a gang Burke ends up holding off the police with a crate full of grenades in an abandoned subway tunnel in order to give his brothers (Max, the Prof and the Mold) time to escape.
During his second prison sentence Burke states he "finds the freaks". Burke becomes intensely aware of child abuse, and the scars it has upon a youth's mind. Burke spends this prison sentence "studying" the freaks and when he is released he becomes an unlicensed private investigator.
Burke begins to battle child abuse, he assists police in locating runaway girls, takes on cases (for generous amounts of money), runs fake subscriptions for kiddie porn in order to keep a list of known freaks, steals, extorts, blackmails and anything else he can do to remain anonymous from police but still make a difference and, in is own way, find vengeance for the misdeeds committed to him as a child.
Obviously he's not for everyone but I really enjoyed the books a lot. I enjoy when the bad guys (especially the REALLY bad guys) get what they deserve - even if it's by another "bad" guy!
Here's a link to Vachss' website - he offers a free pdf download of "A Bomb Built in Hell" which I have not read but just downloaded it.