Flood is the first book in a long running series (up to 15 novels by now) of mystery novels starring the paranoid and careful Burke, who plumbs the very lowest depths of New York City. Written by attorney turned author Andrew Vachss, it is a confident and long mystery novel.
Burke is your typical low brow detective, slumming it in a building where he uses another tenant's (drug-dealing hippies) phone line. He gets hired by Miss Flood (I don't think we ever get a first name), to find a child-raping scumball who killed some friends of hers. She wants revenge and wants Burke to track him down. Then she wants to finish him off with her martial arts.
There is your typical motley collection of helpers - Max is his silent strong "brother", Mole is the electronics whiz who lives in a junkyard, The Prophet is some kind of whacked out informer, Michelle is a transvestite prostitute, and Pansy is his Neapolitan mastiff who guards the office. Burke deals with lowlifes, some of whom have a code of honor and some who don't.
It is a good book, but it went on far too long for me. At almost 350 pages, it is about 100 pages too many for a fast-paced mystery thriller (see Swierczynski's stuff). It was well written but I thought Burke had too many dichotomies, perhaps a failing common to first novels. He was downtrodden, but he had an unbelievable array of gadgets. He pretended to be a bit of sleazeball but he really wasn't and had a heart of gold. Perhaps the next in the series, Strega, will be a little more polished. Flood was good enough for me to want to read the follow up, but not good enough for me to have already ordered it at the library.