“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 13, 2007

This Week We’re Reading … Hard Cases and Mr Paradise

One of Ireland’s finest journalists, and now a superb crime fiction author (Little Criminals, The Midnight Choir), Gene Kerrigan is also a dab hand in the true crime genre. In the brief preface to Hard Cases (1996), a series of case histories Kerrigan covered for Magill magazine, the Sunday Independent and the Sunday Tribune, Kerrigan cuts to the heart of the appeal and philosophy of crime writing: “If there is a theme, it is the arbitrary nature of justice.” Published when the Celtic Tiger was only sharpening its claws, Hard Cases is a tersely written, powerful read and one that deserves a sequel. As for Elmore Leonard, where do you start? Mr Paradise, surprisingly enough, received some negative reviews, mostly – you’d imagine – from the kind of peon who wouldn’t know a cracking police procedural if it rubber-hosed him around the room. As always, a character-led, dialogue-driven black comedy of manners that just so happens to find itself up to its oxters in criminality when Detective Delsa investigates the murder of a wealthy ex-lawyer and his cheerleader playmate, Mr Paradise is the latest in a long, long line of Leonard novels that appears so effortlessly written that anyone who has ever scribbled a line will find their teeth gnashed down to stumps by the finale.

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