Knopf, Oct 2002, 24.00, 275 pp.
Burke knows it is time to come home so he packs up what little he has after living on the run and returns to New York City where he connects with Mama, Michelle and a host of old friends. When Mama tells him his “bank balance” is only $60,000 dollars, Burke understands that he must find a high paying job rather quickly. Mama gets a phone call from a man who needs Burke's special services and she pushes him into listening to what the client has to say.
Giovanni Antonelli, a man highly placed in the mob, wants Burke to find out who killed his illegitimate sixteen year old daughter. Giovanni thinks that the killing was to drive a wedge between him and Felix Encarnacion, an assassin for the Colombian cartel. The “friendship” that exists between the two men precedes a betrayal so Burke has to use all his contacts to trace the girl's movements before her death. By doing it his way, he gets answers from people that will not talk to the police and that leads him to what she was doing in her last hours, which could also prove to be Burke's last moments too.
Dead or Alive Burke stands for the children when no one else does. He may break many laws in his quest for justice but there is something so admirable about a man who respects and reveres innocence that readers do not care about his methods as long as they are effective. ONLY CHILD is Andrew Vachss at his very best, which makes for an awesome reading experience.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner