• Blue Belle

  • A Burke Novel #3
  • By: Andrew Vachss
  • Narrated by: Phil Gigante
  • Length: 10 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (101 ratings)

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Blue Belle  By  cover art

Blue Belle

By: Andrew Vachss
Narrated by: Phil Gigante
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Publisher's Summary

Burke is one of the most cold-blooded yet strangely honorable heroes in the history of crime fction, an outlaw who makes his living by preying on the most vicious of New York City’s bottom-feeders, those who thrive on the suffering of children.

In Andrew Vachss’s tautly engrossing novel, Burke is given a purse full of dirty money to find the infamous Ghost Van that is cutting a lethal swath among the teenage prostitutes in the hood. He also gets help in the form of a stripper named Belle, whose moves on the runway are outclassed only by what she can do in a getaway car.

But not even Burke is prepared for the evil that is behind the Ghost Van or for the sheer menace of its guardian, a cadaverous karate expert who enjoys killing so much that he has named himself after death.

Listen to all of our Burke titles.
©1995 Andrew Vachss (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A book so ferocious, with characters so venal and actions so breakneck, that you dare not get in the way....First rate.” (Chicago Tribune)

What listeners say about Blue Belle

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Too much porn, smoking, anger, misogyny, ...

... and 𝙬𝙖𝙮 too much filatio. Although Andrew Vachss' Burke series started promisingly with "Flood;" by "Blue Belle" -- the third entry in the series -- Vachss has sunk far too deeply into male sexual fantasies and outright pornography, marring his otherwise excellent writing and plotting. I think that I will continue listening to a few more entries in the Burke series only because I enjoy narrator Phil Gigante's amazing acting skills so much, and because I am hoping that Vachss will eventually get over it. (I am currently listening to "Blossom" -- the fifth entry in the series -- and I think that it may be taking a turn for the better.) Also, if Burke doesn't stop chain-smoking pretty soon, he is going to die, anyway. (The Burke series went on for 18 entries, up to 2008's "Another Life," so maybe both Vachss and his protagonist got their acts together.) I am not quite ready to give up on Burke just yet ... but "Blue Belle" gets pretty disgusting sometimes.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Lots of sex, lots of uncomfortable situations

A lot of the reviews seem to criticize Vachss while not acknowledging how ahead of its time the book was for 1988 with strong characters who are women of color, transgender and disabled. In this case, I see reviews criticizing Vachss for having a character who likes to be spanked and pinched during sex, among other habits not so easily discussed in a review. Of course, many people love that kind of thing. And in full context — her being a product of incest with violence and sex work in her past — it’s even more understandable. And how many books, especially from that time period, have the love interest and hero be a woman whose large girth is proudly and frequently celebrated? Admittedly, the recurring lead character — a kind of private eye whose focus is protecting children from predators — has some of the less flattering traits common among straight white American males in 1988, but he is accepting and generous with everyone who does not exploit others. I think he deserves some understanding, even if the tough guy prose can make you groan sometimes (“‘You want to be my woman?’ She nodded. ‘This is part of what it costs,’ I told her. I didn’t look back.”) The plot here involves a “ghost van” that kills or kidnaps underage prostitutes. If you’ve ever seen a 1970s exploitation film, you know early on how the book will ultimately end. It contains a lot of sex. I’ll admit a lot of this book made me uncomfortable — especially the clingy, petulant, highly sexed title character — but everyone has a justifiable reason for being the way they are and the plot plays out the way it does because of their quirks. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to Book 4 in the series. Grade: A-

As for the narration, it was excellent. Gigante is Burke.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

not enough story to stay interested

What disappointed you about Blue Belle?

I purchased this last year and I have been trying to listen to it but keep giving up. It is really soft porn rather than a mystery. I can't even follow the story because the main female character is so weak, silly and stupid. This book is not to my liking and I tried to listen to it because it had such positive reviews. It is just not worth the effort. I give up - I can't even finish the first part of the book.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Murder in Vegas
New Crime Tales of Gambling and Desperation
by Michael Connelly (Editor)
read by Phil Gigante and Joyce Bean

Which character – as performed by Phil Gigante – was your favorite?

None in this book but Gigante is a good narrator so I will listen to Murder in Vegas which I purchased at another book site.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It did seem as though it was a book that would provide some redemption or some resolution showing hope to save the children - but it didn't do that - it just provided gross humiliating actions by the female lead and a copy of an old resurfaced Chandler character.

Any additional comments?

phooey.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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I would absolutely recommend

I've liked this series ever since I bought the flood audiobook never disappointing always ready to download the next book

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

What a Ride...

This is the third book I've listen to and it pretty raw but real. Great story telling of life in the big city.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great series!

Love the Characters in the book, and the plot was captivating. Could not stop listening, to hear how bruke & company move through events in this series. Narrated perfectly!!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent read, even in someone else's voice.

Love the street prose and eloquence Vachss uses in his story telling. Makes the reader feel the grit of the street and offers a perspective that citizens and civilians could never describe.

Having worked as an RN in several inner-city hospitals, I can appreciate the background that the author brings to his story-telling and verbal picture painting.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Classic Vachss

The guy that did the reading, Phil Gigante, is the best I have ever heard. Truly amazing. I will search other books he has done. He brought the book to life, a tremendous performer. Overall the book was true hard boiled stuff. It dragged on occasion and the sex was uninspired. It would of been great to get in the head of the villains to hear their motives but no dice. That sucked. The writing style is classic Vachss. Out of the books he's done my favorite, by far, is Shella.