Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “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.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: The Caller, Alex Barclay (HarperCollins) ***

Detective Joe Luchessi is back in New York after his not so restorative sojourn in Ireland, with his son severely traumatised and his marriage floundering. Now there’s also the Caller to contend with – an apparently random visitor to city apartments, who enters them with mysterious ease and proceeds to torture and kill its inhabitants … which is where some confusion sets in. The Caller, although still a fairly enjoyable read, with some taut, gripping moments, feels somewhat unfinished. It also raises more questions than it answers, and not in a thought-provoking way: Duke Rawlins still features as a shadowy figure tracking Luchessi, but this doesn’t tie in satisfactorily with the main thread of the story (the Caller’s identity), which loses momentum halfway through and chugs its way into a surprisingly dull denouement. Alex Barclay deservedly established herself as a crime writer of exceptional ability with her 2005 debut Darkhouse, but this feels like a stopgap until all is revealed next time, or else the pressure to deliver a sequel resulted in what reads at times like a lack-lustre filler. Hopefully, either way, Duke Rawlins will be back with a bang next time.–Claire Coughlan