Audiobook Review: Sacrifice by Andrew Vachss

1 03 2011

Sacrifice by Andrew Vachss (Burke series, Book 6)

Read by Phil Gigante

Brilliance Audio

Genre: Crime Fiction

Quick Thoughts: Vachss’ gritty realism and Gigantes rich tones make this one of the best in the series so far.

Grade: A-

Sacrifice, the sixth novel in the crime noir series, has Burke returning home. In Blossom, Burke left the “comforts” of his urban jungle, and homes of freaks and criminals, New York City, and was hunting a sexual sniper in a small Indiana town. The beginning of Sacrifice definitely brings s sense of coming home to the series, after the drastic setting change of the setting. Even Mama Wong senses it, as she looks around the table at all the characters and comments how everyone is where they belong. It’s simple moments like this, among Burkes family that makes this series so exceptional. No matter what the driving plot of the particular novel is, it’s the small moments, the reflections on the collective past of Burkes surrogate family, and the sense of something more bonding these people that adds the spice to a well prepared meal.

Sacrifice works on many levels, and, at least to me, is the most fully fleshed out novel in this series to date. Vachss handles very touchy subjects, that I have seen other authors attempt and fail at, specifically multiple personality disorder, and Satanic Ritual Abuse. Why Vachss succeeds is simple, these are not plot devices, or twists, but realistic handling of complex topics. Vachss strength has always been his ability to realistically display things that for many others come off as clever plotting. The story here isn’t “oh my god, this guy has multiple personalities” but treats the shocking moments, as just that, moments, not to exploit but to explain. His bad guys are not brilliant masterminds but sick individuals that use the innocence and desire for love inherent in children against them for their own gain. Tackling the idea of Ritual Satanic Abuse, Vachss simply lets us see it’s not about religion, but about terrorism. For the first time, when reading a tale about these topics, the ideas presented ring true and not as some B Horror movie.

Phil Gigante has narrated much of the Burke series, and does so brilliantly. For me, he is Burke, and I know it will be tough later in the series when other narrators handle a few of the novels. Gigante tones are rich and deep, and he handles male and female characters, as well as children well, which is not an easy task to accomplish. Altogether this is another winning edition to a great series, and I look forward to listening to book seven in the near future.

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