Making his 17th appearance, Burke—hardened ex-con, unabashed vigilante, stone killer and yes, famous children’s advocate—stalks the child abusers in a 30-year-old crime.
When Burke isn’t advocating for children, his favorite things include money, since cash flow is a problem endemic to his lifestyle, and revenge, the thirst for which seems to be rooted in his DNA. So when Claw, who was boss of the local Aryan Brotherhood when he was in the slammer, approaches him with a proposition that seems to incorporate bits of both, Burke is attentive. In 1975, according to Claw, ten-year-old Melissa Turnbridge was raped, sodomized and finally beaten to death by three suburban teenagers, the sons of multimillionaires. Never caught and now fat cats in their own right, the three are prime extortion targets. Claw can pin the crime on them, he promises, but he needs allies. A huge payday awaits those prepared to pitch in. Burke confers with his usual support system—the Prof, Max the Silent, Michelle and the rest of the gang that gathers at Mama’s—and they agree that this scam-and-sting operation is worth the effort. True, there’s no actual child to save, but those other bits are juicy.
Digressions and diatribes against politicians, therapists, thriller writers, the ACLU, the CIA and so on, but not much storytelling, which is unfortunate, since Vachss (Mask Market, 2006, etc.) is pretty good at that.