Audiobook Review: Footsteps of the Hawk by Andrew Vachss

28 12 2011

Footsteps of the Hawk by Andrew Vachss (Burke Series, Book 8)

Read by Phil Gigante

Brilliance Audio

Length: 8 Hrs 36 Min

Genre: Thriller

Quick Thoughts: Fans of the series, who have read the novel in publication order, will find Footsteps of the Hawk paying off some of their diligence. Vachss pulls together small subplots and the emotional turmoil of the main character to cultivate this novel into a pivotal moment in the series that fans will enjoy.

Grade: B+

As I have mentioned before, I am a huge proponent of reading a book series, if at all possible, in order. Many authors will tell you that each of their novels will work just as well as stand alones, yet the best series writers always reward the reader who takes on the series in the published order with more in depth understanding of the overall tale. You can see the development of the characters, understand their motivations better when you start with the first of a series and work your way through. God authors will often foreshadow moments to come, putting pieces in place in subtle ways that you don‘t even realize until the events come to fruition in a future novel. . Plus, you get to watch characters as the develop relationships and watch the normal progression of it. There is one series, which despite the fact I was losing interest in it, I kept on reading because I hated his romantic entanglement so much, I was hoping the main character would separate from her (he did, only to get back together a few books later.) Over the past year, I have been working my way through the audiobook editions of Andrew Vachss’ long running Burke series. This series has a total of 18 books, and I have just competed book 8 Footsteps of the Hawk. Of the many things that Footsteps of the Hawk is, it is definitely a payoff book, where several storylines come to a head. As a reader who has, so far, read the series in order, I was quite happy with the payoff.

Footsteps of the Hawk finds our anti-hero Burke back in the city, among his chosen family, yet, not safe at all. Burke is pushed into the center of a dangerous cat and mouse game between two cops, with little idea of what is going on. While Burke usually likes to play it safe, he finds circumstances guiding him towards what very possible could be his final altercation. Vachss uses the lingering self doubts and guilt Burke feels from event earlier in the series to cause Burke to lose some of that edge he had while battling the ebbs and flows of the urban jungle of New York. I found Footsteps of the Hawk to be a more intimate tale than previous editions. Burke is definitely reflexive in this tale, giving us a more solid glimpse of Burkes shady past, if not in actual descriptions, but the emotions Burke is feeling. Despite the darkness that has surrounded Burke since the events of Sacrifice, I think we can see a bit of an end to his time wallowing in the guilt of the repercussions of his actions. I felt that the story was well plotted, and interesting, but for me it was Burke’s allowing him to get stuck in such a situation to be the truly interesting part of the tale. Burke is a character that is so fascinating, the he can survive more mundane plots, and still deliver, yet here the plot was strong, and only enhanced by Vachss character development. With ten more novels left in the series, I am quite excited to learn what paths Burke has yet to travel,

There is a moment in this novel where Burke, and his mentor/surrogate father Prof are discussing who is a better actor, Robert De Niro or Joe Pesci, and listening to it made me think to myself, “Self, this is why I like Phil Gigante so much as a narrator.” These moments of dialogue, between two utterly different characters in both sound and rhythm, come off sounding so authentic in the hands of Gigante.  Gigante just seems to have this natural talent for making characters come alive, and performs the interplay between these characters better than anyone else. This is one reason that I love when there is narrator consistency in a series, narrators are learning these characters as well, along with the listener and good narrators know how to develop the characters with their voices, in a parallel way with the author’s developing these characters with their prose. Footsteps of the Hawk is a transitional book in the series, bringing the end to some subplot while setting the plate for futures events, yet, more importantly, it’s a good solid thriller.

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