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A Bomb Built in Hell: Wesley's Story (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) by Andrew Vachss
Review by Mel Jacob
Vintage Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780307950857
Date: 13 November 2012 List Price $15.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Andrew Vachss, noted for his Burke series, other novels, and short stories, now releases his 1973 unpublished novel, A Bomb Built in Hell. Originally rejected as too violent, it follows the history of Wesley, once a juvenile offender, ex-soldier, and hardened criminal who now assassinates people for money.

Despite the impeccable writing, most cozy readers will not like the gore, violence, and the scale of destruction. Wesley takes no prisoners. His initial goal is to fulfill his mentor's revenge against the shadowy Mob figures that left the mentor, Carmine Trentoni, hit man, to spend his life in jail. He teaches Wesley all he knows and provides him with contacts and money once he is released.

Carmine hones Wesley, a cold-blooded loner, into the tool he needs to exact his revenge. He schools Wesley in how to survive outside. He teaches him patience and how he can accomplish his goal without being detected or killed.

Out of jail, Wesley follows Carmine's plan and sets himself up in business. Petralia helps him obtain a headquarters and brings him into contact with Carmine's employers. Wesley fulfills several contracts and begins to plan for the big job. Pet also brings in a young man to help with various support tasks. The two older men also groom the kid for the future. Once the big hit happens, all three must face a new and unknown future.

Wesley always fulfills his contracts. Initially, there is little collateral damage, but as he progresses, he not only kills cops, Carmine hated all cops, but he also takes more and more bystanders along with them. Wesley sees only his goal. The methods become more grotesque and violent.

Other authors like Ronald De Feo's Calling Mr. King and Barry Eislerís John Rain focus on hit men. De Feo's hit man had no future and neither does Vachssí. Vachss has many fans and devoted readers will find where Wesley, who also appeared in the Burke books, came from and how he developed. A Bomb Built in Hell is not for the squeamish or those who like their villains to have some humanity. Wesley was and remained an efficient killing machine that only showed mercy twice in his life, once to a woman and child and once to a dog. He had only two friends, Petralia and the kid.

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