When the Burke series ended, Andrew Vachss wasted no time in crafting another gripping series: Dell and Dolly, a former legionnaire and a retired nurse from Doctors Without Borders who escape into the Pacific Northwest, only to find a battleground just as treacherous as the African war zone in which they met: suburban America.
Kirkus calls the books “meditations on the Zen of violence,” but to me they capture the fierce flame of unforgettable characters. Dell and Dolly are warriors to the core, and Dell has no compunctions about putting heads on pikes to warn invaders aware from their village–though he does so figuratively, with Vachss’s trademark paranoid spycraft, a realistic imperative for anyone operating in our surveillance society.
Each book explores a different facet of the dark heart of town life: Aftershock focused on rape culture in high school, and one girl’s explosive response; Shockwave, on the permanent homeless population, those who care for, or prey on them, and the equally hidden racial hate groups that operate among us; and Signwave moves up the food chain to pit Dolly vs. a hedge fund manager who comes to town promoting “Art” and “Culture” while “protecting the environment,” who may be a lot more than he seems.
Vachss excels at exposing abusive power relationships that our society has come to accept as normal, and baring them for what they are. Signwave is no exception. The trip through Dell’s mind is worth the price of admission- you never get a better “tour guide through hell” than when you’re reading a Vachss novel- but the poignant barbs that expose the rotten core of corruption we have come to embrace are what drives this new series, as dark and gripping as anything he has ever written.
Or, to quote Andrew from Facebook, ask your local library to order you a copy.