“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, July 25, 2007

This Week We’re Reading … Missing Presumed Dead and Miami Purity

Something of a sharp contrast in the old reading habits this week: in Missing Presumed Dead, Arlene Hunt’s heroine Sarah Kenny, of Kenny and Quigley (QuicK) Investigations, is tough as nails but entirely feminine, as concerned about her relationships with her partner (the devil-may-care Quigley) and her sisters and mother as she is with investigating the case on hand, a bizarre shooting and attempted suicide by a woman who has been missing, presumed dead, for 26 years. A classic narrative arc, which gives Sarah and Quigley equal billing, with occasional digressions into the mind of the psychopathic killer determined to take his revenge on Sarah, is conveyed in unfussy prose designed to maximise the suspense as events hurtle towards what is, for Sarah, something of an apocalyptic finale. The ‘heroine’ of Vicki Hendricks’ Miami Purity, on the other hand, is barely recognisable as a woman at all. Sherri Parlay is modelled on Frank Chambers from James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice, and offers a modern, highly-sexed take on the classic hardboiled noir. A high-wire balancing act between an amoral femme fatale and a poor gal just trying to make her way in a rich man’s world, Sherri is a compelling character, boasting more cojones that most male characters in crime fiction combined. If there’s a fault it’s that Hendricks didn’t end the book on the penultimate chapter with the most audaciously provocative suicide ever committed to print, but that’s a minor caveat. Republished by Busted Flush Press, with a foreword by Ken Bruen, Miami Purity is a must-read for all fans of neo-noir.

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