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.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Monday Review: It’s Nice To Be Nice, Although It’d Be Nicer To Be In Nice

That stalwart friend of Irish crime writers, Myles McWeeney at the Indo, is back on the case again, this time trawling the mean streets of Arlene Hunt’s latest, Missing Presumed Dead: “A very enjoyable, neatly worked mystery, packed with deft characterisation. Read it on the beach but keep an eye on the kids.” … Over at The Book Bag, Jill Murphy likes Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant: “It’s pacy, it’s funny, it’s irreverent … a humorous badinage going on that’s reminiscent of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton or even Doctor Who … the plotting is a little bit loose. The villain isn’t really much more than a cardboard cut-out. But the humour, the high-spiritedness and the wonderful interaction between the two main characters more than make up for it.” Mmm, lovely … Not to be outdone, Julia Eccleshare at Love Reading 4 Kids is bigging up the other major current kiddie crime release, Siobhan Dowd’s The London Eye Mystery: “This may only be Siobhan Dowd’s second novel but it’s clear her talent as a superb storyteller is beyond question. Her first novel A Swift Pure Cry was short-listed for nearly all the major awards last year and although this second novel is very different it has that same page-turner feeling to it.” But stay! I hear you cry – what news of Alex Barclay’s The Caller? “Written with a depth of feeling for the characters that is sometimes lacking in the genre from her colleagues … a fast-paced and sometimes ugly serial killer novel. The characters are richly described with a sense of humour at times that makes you smile, and a touch of the cruel and sadistic where needed …” reckon the folks at Woyano … They’re still coming in thick and fast for John Connolly’s The Unquiet: “One of the finest reads of this or any year, from the man with the darkest imagination. I was enthralled and terrified at the same time, but it’s the wit Connolly employs that prevents this dark tale from becoming too malevolent,” says Ali Karim at Books ‘n’ Bytes, while The Observer is no less impressed: “The Unquiet is more contemplative and affecting than some of the earlier novels, but the violence, when it comes, is vicious. Hard to put down, harder to forget.” Just about gorgeous … Staying with The Observer, for The Artist Formerly Known as Colin Bateman’s latest: “Exuberant also describes I Predict a Riot, the latest diverting entertainment from ‘Bateman’ … what follows is sometimes brutal, often blackly humorous and always terrific.” Meanwhile, Neil Dowling at Totally Dublin is middling-to-fairly impressed with The Big O, from inky-fingered urchin Declan Burke: “The Big O is a fairly standard crime caper with some implausible turns in the plot. Burke’s great achievement, however, is to give a typical genre storyline some real flavour through his skilful use of dialogue and imagery.” Neil? The snakebites are on us … Finally, you know you’re in business when the Indo’s arts editor, Sophie Gorman, gives you the hup-ya: “With Julius, [Donovan] has created a man who exists beyond society and a story that magnetically absorbs you with every page turned … You know that you are having one of those special reading experiences when you find yourself rationing the final chapters, in an attempt to prolong the experience for as long as possible,” she says of Julius Winsome, while The Guardian reckons that, “History may judge it to be less than the perfect modern classic it aims to be, but it is a memorable tale, distinguished by masterful prose, an intriguingly peculiar sensibility, and something hard to define that many great works of art have: a kind of dignity. Such books are rarer than publishers’ hype encourages us to believe.” Publishers’ hype? Shurely shome mishtake ...