Veteran uber-gritmeister Andrew Vachss returns this month with Mask Market, a new novel featuring the mono-monikered Burke. If there are any mystery aficionados out there who are unfamiliar with Vachss' iconic antihero, let it be said that Burke is the baddest black-hat-wearing latter-day urban warrior in the Greater New York area, and nobody in his right mind would cross him. Except that someone has not only crossed him, but has also set him up for a major fall, and Burke must find out who, and fast. The usual suspects are on hand to help him out: Max the Silent, a giant of a man whose lack of speech is more than made up for by the speed of his lethal limbs; Mama, the Chinese restaurateur who doubles as a criminal mastermind; brainy Prof, whose rhyming slang sets a hip urban counterpoint to Burke's clipped prose; and Mole, who can be counted on to provide the latest and greatest in surveillance gimmickry, always a valuable asset when operating at the edges of the law. Burke drives a hot-rodded Plymouth Roadrunner, the legendary '60s muscle car that fueled a generation of adolescent speed dreams. In short, he personifies the dark side of cool, a battle-scarred hero of near-epic proportions, a law unto himself and a force to be reckoned with.

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