“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.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Monday Review: Being The Crème De La Crème Of This Week’s Interweb Big-Ups And Hup-Yas

Let’s just get the obligatory John Connolly / The Unquiet big-up out of the way first, shall we? “Connolly … has arguably passed James Lee Burke and Dennis Lehane as the best ‘literary’ crime novelist writing today. Each line of his books is like poetry, and if you enjoy fine writing, you’ll find yourself, as I do, rereading certain passages over and over again … Connolly is in a class by himself and, frankly, he makes anyone wishing for success as a writer feel inadequate,” says Gene Williams at Cape Cod Online … “Tenderwire by Claire Kilroy, though not really a mystery, uses mystery techniques – an unreliable narrator who drops clues as to what’s really going on more by what she leaves out than what she says – to create a very satisfying punch at the finale,” reckons Jill at the economically-titled Jill’s Blog … Sharon Wheeler over at Reviewing the Evidence likes Jim Kelly’s latest, to wit: “The Skeleton Man is neatly plotted, as always, and Dryden faces physical danger on several occasions. But most of the other characters aren’t very developed and I can’t quite put my finger on why this book didn’t grab me … Mind you, Kelly not quite at his best is still streets ahead of most other writers.” … Arminta Wallace at the Irish Times (no interweb link - boo) reviews the audio book of John Creed’s Black Cat, Black Dog, and likes what she hears: “It’s all quite reminiscent of Martin Cruz Smith and his Gorky Park man Arkady Renko, which means it surely can’t be long before Valentine, who’s already being hailed as “the spook’s spook” in thriller circles, makes the transition to superstardom, or maybe even, with luck, the big screen.” Staying on a John Creed / Eoin McNamee tip, Ali Karim is unusually understated in his appreciation of 12:23 over at Shots Mag: “It is a big book in terms of ideas, literary style and the atmosphere it conjured in my head, hence forcing me to read slowly, meticulously absorbing every word, every sentence into my fevered mind, such is the dark beauty of McNamee’s tremendous novel … McNamee writes his prose like a magician … this novel must be a very strong contender for next years CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger.” Okay, so maybe he’s not so understated after all … Yet more extravagant hup-yas for Tana French’s In The Woods, to wit: “Ryan and Maddox are empathetic and flawed heroes, whose partnership and friendship elevate the narrative beyond a gory tale of murdered children and repressed childhood trauma,” reckons Publishers’ Weekly at Amazon US, and the same link gives you Thomas Gaughan’s Booklist review: “The characters of Ryan and Maddox, as well as a handful of others, are vividly developed in this intelligent and beautifully written first novel, and author French relentlessly builds the psychological pressure on Ryan as the investigation lurches onward under the glare of the tabloid media … An outstanding debut and a series to watch for procedural fans.” Meanwhile, Fictionwise pitches in with, “A gorgeously written novel that marks the debut of an astonishing new voice in psychological suspense … Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones.” Crikey! And then there’s Crime Always Pays elf Claire Coughlan from last week: “Tana French writes like a sparkier, Irish Donna Tartt … This book has elicited extreme reactions for its ending, and I’m no exception to that – I loved its elliptical twists, unexpected turns and lack of facile explanations.” Which is nice … On to Ken Bruen’s Ammunition: “The Brant books are a brilliant example of maintaining a large cast of interesting characters over the course of multiple books … Bottom line: loved it and can’t wait to re-read the whole series again,” says Brian Lindenmuth at Fantasy Books … Claire Abraham over at the Star-Telegram likes Eoin Colfer’s latest, Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony: “Artemis Fowl, teenage criminal mastermind, battles wits with Capt. Holly Short and her fellow fairies of the LEPrecon police force in a riotous series of books that skilfully combine the fantasy world of Holly and her friends with Artemis’ technological savvy.” Meanwhile, Colfer’s real-life nemesis, the Skulduggery Pleasant-scribbling Derek Landy, gets the big-up from Elisha at Seven Impossible Things: “The really standout feature for me was the dialogue. Stephanie and Skulduggery had that sarcastic banter thing goin’ on - it was like Moonlighting without the sexual tension.” Finally, Glenn Marshall of International Noir is kindly disposed towards Brian McGilloway’s Borderlands: “This is a short but powerful crime novel, and a sympathetic portrait of a ‘borderland’ that is too often obscured in clichés or ruralisms in fiction of the present and the past. McGilloway conveys a believable portrait of a real, troubled, and coping-as-best-they-can population in the new Ireland, with all its contradictions and complexities.” Aye, but can yon McGilloway tap-dance backwards up a washing line? No? Mmmm, thought not …

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