Before Burke, Andrew Vachss created Wesley, the ultimate ice-man. A Bomb Built in Hell is Wesley’s story.
While doing time for manslaughter, Wesley meets prison boss Carmine Trentoni, an Old School gangster who no longer believes in the blood-oath he took years ago. Carmine’s triple life sentence hasn't cut him off from all his outside sources—he has waited with the patience of stone for someone capable of absorbing his knowledge . . . and carrying out his sworn vengeance. Wesley emerges from prison as the perfect hit man: calculating, deadly, and ice-cold. He follows Carmine’s instructions: locate “the last of us,” one “Mr. Petraglia,” then assassinate a Chinatown gang boss and a Mafia chief—both had overstepped their bounds. But then Wesley finds his own mission: As he begins to see the root of all he has learned to hate, he and a youth just out of reform school, known only as The Kid, begin to take out political targets. In a final burst of understanding, Wesley decides to leave The Kid behind. But not before he writes his own suicide note . . . in dynamite.
“Vachss doesn’t sugarcoat things in this brutal, detailed piece of work, but that’s what makes it fascinating. Vachss’ fans will love this example of the author’s early writing, which predates his Burke books by several years. Rejected by publishers decades ago due to its high level of violence, the years have not diminished its impact.”
“History has caught up to Wesley’s bleak odyssey, repeatedly rejected for publication decades ago but now unnervingly prescient.”
“A Bomb Built in Hell presages motifs Vachss employed in the Burke novels, but even crime fans unfamiliar with Burke can relish it. Wesley is utterly remorseless, and the story is told in the coldest and sparest of prose.”