“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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

This Week We’re Reading … Who Is Conrad Hirst? and The Bloomsday Dead

Kevin Wignall’s up-coming Who Is Conrad Hirst? (to be published on November 13) is being flagged as a Jason Bourne-style thriller, but while the eponymous anti-hero is a frighteningly proficient hitman, Wignall’s creation is a far more philosophical character – indeed, the whole point of the exercise is for Conrad to answer the question posed in the title. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of action, because there is, but the page-turning pace is leavened by a more satisfying quality of self-analysis than is generally to be found in straightforward thrillers. Powerful stuff from the author of For The Dogs, and there’s a strong chance it’ll propel him into the big leagues. Meanwhile, The Bloomsday Dead concludes Adrian McKinty’s ‘Dead’ trilogy, with the indestructible Michael Forsythe back home in Ireland to conduct a search for the kidnapped daughter of flame-haired Bridget, Forsythe’s femme fatale nemesis from the trilogy’s opener, Dead I Well May Be. With the plot unfolding over the space of one day – June 16, aka Bloomsday, which honours the hero of James Joyce’s Ulysses – the pace is frantic from the get-go, charging along in an adrenaline frenzy as Michael takes on anyone from Peruvian hitmen to the IRA as he seeks closure on the life he has been forced to live for the last decade. As always with McKinty, the writing is of a superior quality, the graphically etched outbursts of violence shot through with a quirky poetry that mines a particularly dark seam of humour. The only disappointment? That this is touted as the final Forsythe novel. Say it ain’t so, Joe, sorry, Adrian …

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