Audiobook Review: Safe House by Andrew Vachss

3 09 2012

Safe House by Andrew Vachss (Burke, Bk. 10)

Read by Phil Gigante

Brilliance Audio

Length: 10 Hrs 14 Min

Genre: Crime Fiction, Thriller

Quick Thoughts: While Safe House will probably not be one of the pivotal stand out novels of the series, it is Vachss doing what Vachss does best. Vachss definitely gives us an interesting look of the psychology and execution of predatory stalking with his typical authenticity.  Overall, Safe House was a solid thriller, with some interesting new characters all presented on the canvas that Vachss works best.

Grade: B

A few weeks back I was going through a bit of a book slump. This really wasn’t due to the fact that I was choosing bad books, just that. Due to issues going on in my life, I was having trouble focusing on anything. I had that week pretty well planned out with what I was going to listen to. I actually had some interesting choices lined up. Some new genres and authors to explore. This is something I love to do, take a break away from my traditional choices and try out something new. But, at this time, it just wasn’t working. What I needed were some comfortable pants to slip into. Something where I didn’t really have to work too hard to get into. What I needed to do was return to a series. Something that I already new the characters in and had a good grasp about the themes. I wanted something that wasn’t as much a guilty pleasure, but more something that I can fall into without the struggle. This is one of the reasons I like to find series that I may have missed, I always enjoy long series of novels focused on a reoccurring cast of characters. Some of these, I feel the need to jump on as soon as a new entry is released while others I like to keep around for when I need to find some comfortable pants. This isn’t saying the read is comfortable, just that the characters are old friends, and though they may get into some sticky situations, you can rely on them to act their parts. So, when I was suffering my latest book slump, I picked up Safe House, the 10th book of Andrew Vachss gritty noir crime series featuring Burke and his family of choice. While always dark in nature, Safe House was the perfect solution for me allowing me to jump right into the tale.

In Safe House, Burke once again gets tangled up in other people’s problems that he would prefer to avoid. When an old associate is hired to put a scare into a woman’s ex-boyfriend who is stalking her, the job goes bad and he turns to Burke. Burke discovers a network of safe houses for victims of stalkers run by an alluring woman named Crystal Beth. Yet, a shadowy government agent is putting the squeeze on Crystal and her network, and Burke sees the chance to use the situation to solve his and Crystal’s problems. This edition of the ongoing Burke series is one settled comfortable within the norms of this series. Burke is again working with his family of choice on the dark streets of New York City. It’s a tapestry that Vachss works with well. While the majority of the time is spent with Burke managing his way through a new relationship full of unexpected baggage, the main plot is pretty strong. I really enjoyed the Crystal Beth character, a name that made me laugh on more than one occasion. She was definitely one of the stronger female presences in Burke’s romantic entanglements, and it was nice to see that. The Story took some unexpected twists along the way, but always stayed well within the bounds of plausibility. I also liked the antagonist for this edition to the series. In many way he was the anti-Burke, working the edges but within the system. While Safe House will probably not be one of the pivotal stand out novels of the series, it is Vachss doing what Vachss does best. Vachss definitely gives us an interesting look of the psychology and execution of predatory stalking with his typical authenticity.  Overall, Safe House was a solid thriller, with some interesting new characters all presented on the canvas that Vachss works best.

If you read this blog at all you will know that I am a huge fan of Phil Gigante. As the 10th entry to this series, you know what you are going to get with Gigante, strong noir sty lings and authentic characters. I really liked how he handled the female characters. Gigante has some pretty stock voices for female characters, yet he manages to create delineation among them through the rhythms of their speech. This was especially true in this audiobook. Gigante took two female characters, and gave them both their own lives, while using a very similar base voice. I found it interesting that the dialogue between these characters worked so well. Safe House was a great novel to turn to when I was in my audiobook rut, with both author and narrator doing what they do so well.

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