A Bomb Built in Hell by Andrew Vachss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Before Burke there was Wesley (an omnipresent character alive or dead in the subsequent Burke series) and this book, originally written in 1973 and rejected by every publisher Vachss brought it to, was Wesley's story. Finally made available in digital format, it's a dark and brutal tale that shows Vachss' style already finely honed. Parentless child Wesley moves through a series of foster homes before being sent to Korea in the US Army as a plea deal to avoid jail. During the Korean War Wesley begins to develop his skill as a killer, but only after returning home and going to jail and falling under the wing of a former mafia boss does he realize his mission in life as a contract killer. After his release from prison, the novel picks up an incredible speed as Wesley wracks ruthless vengeance against the associates of his mafia mentor that sold him out. Along the way Wesley develops a political conscience and a hatred for the rich and privileged that would lead to the book's grisly conclusion. Even in his early years, Vahcss told a haunting tale that you can't take your eyes away from. The themes that would become his career's work: loyalty, vengeance and revenge are all explored here in a very raw but compelling format. Fans of Vachss' Burke series looking for more backstory about the "Ice Man" Wesley will find this required reading.
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A Bomb Built in Hell (Kindle eBook) - amazon.com
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Butcher, Lehn, Shipp / The Core Trio
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