“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lost Classics # 113: The Polling of the Dead by John M. Kelly

"But you know damned well who will be the gainers in the end. Not the politicians like myself, who have to pike the dung. The real winners will be the suffering Irish people. For once." A timely number, given that the Irish nation is charging off to the polls to vote early and often tomorrow, John M. Kelly's (right) The Polling of the Dead (1993) is a cracking thriller a la Ross Macdonald which incorporates ex-Nazi fugitives from justice as part of its backstory. Set in 1960s Dublin, it's a first-person narration by a political Mr Fixit, Redmond Byrne, who goes in search of answers when his friend and Opposition candidate, Daithi Flood, is found dead at the bottom of a rubbish chute in the run-up to polling day. Beautifully written - as you might expect from a man who also wrote A Short History of Western Legal Theory (OUP) and the standard work on the Irish Constitution - it also showcases a Sahara-dry wit and an appreciation of Chandler, Macdonald et al, all delivered in a salty Irish vernacular. Discovered after his untimely death in 1991, this was the former Cabinet Minister and Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach's second venture into crime fiction (he published Matters of Honour (1964) as 'John Boyle'), and deserves an immediate reprint. Over to you, publishing folk ...

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