“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “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. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Lost Classic # 264: Putting The Boot In by Dan Kavanagh
A phlegmatic London PI, Duffy is commissioned by the manager of his local professional football club to investigate a series of unfortunate incidents that seem designed to foil the Athletic’s bid to escape relegation to the Fourth Division. In tandem with that plot runs Duffy’s investigation of himself, as the bisexual detective examines his place in the scheme of things when the threat of AIDS looms large over London’s swinging scene of the early ’80s. Beautifully understated, as you might expect when you learn that Dan Kavanagh – allegedly born in Sligo in 1946 and a Sunday football goalkeeper since his failed trial with Accrington Stanley – is in fact a pseudonym for Julian Barnes, Putting The Boot In (1987) features bone-dry wit (“Nor do I,” said Duffy, though as a matter of professional principle he never put anything past anybody.”), a knowing familiarity with crime fiction tropes and very English kitchen-sink dramas, and a delightfully accurate portrayal of the quiet desperation of both Third Division and Sunday league football. The second of a quartet of Duffy stories, this is long out of print but well worth grubbing around the second-hand shops for – and there is a four-novel omnibus available on Amazon UK.- Michael McGowan