“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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

This Week We’re Reading … End Games and Julius Winsome

‘The last Aurelio Zen mystery’ proclaims the cover, dashing the hopes of those bereft Michael Dibdin fans who might have been hoping there was a draft or two stashed away in a desk drawer that might some day be posthumously published. But no – the very fine End Games, prophetically enough, is where Zen finally runs out of time. Ironically, given the way Zen has been ducking and diving and generally cheating Il Grimmo Reapero in recent times, this novel is a far more placid and meditative piece, and one which, in the final analysis, finds Zen fight his conscience to a grinding stalemate. Here’s hoping Dibdin achieved something similar before his far too early shuffle off this mortal coil. RIP, sir. Meanwhile, Gerard Donovan’s Julius Winsome, we’re more than pleased to report, lives up to all the hype, being a gripping first-person narrative of one of the most unusual and sympathetic murderers you’ll ever have the pleasure to meet. It’s difficult to avoid the Jim Thompson / Killer Inside of Me comparisons, so we won’t, but Donovan brings a tough poetry to his deranged hero, who goes – very quietly, but very deliberately – on the warpath when his beloved dog and only companion is cruelly shot to death in the remote woods of northern Maine. All in all, as fine a week’s reading as we can remember.

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