“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, September 2, 2007

The Monday Review

Take a deep breath, people: ’tis a bumper crop. “Blending the gritty realism and brutal violence of Golden Age pulp legends like Mickey Spillane and Lawrence Block with adrenaline-fuelled and darkly poetic story lines a la contemporary masters Ken Bruen, Jason Starr, and Charlie Huston, McKinty’s Dead trilogy is contemporary crime fiction at its very best … an unapologetically bloody tale of vengeance, redemption, and – surprisingly enough – love that will resonate with readers for hours, days, or even weeks afterward,” reckons Paul Goat Allen of The Bloomsday Dead, via the Barnes & Noble review. Ishrini at Book Fever concurs thusly: “Riveting, violent, witty, and lyrical, The Bloomsday Dead is vintage McKinty.” Which is nice … “The best thing about [Eoin] McNamee’s effort, 10 years after the event, is the benefit of hindsight. An adroit stylist, he builds a plausible case for the fateful Mercedes ride of August 31, 1997, coming to an end at the intersection of happenstance and skulduggery,” says Finlay MacDonald of 12:23 at the Sunday Star Times … The Artist Formerly Known As Colin Bateman’s I Predict A Riot gets the thumbs up at Book Reviews for the Average Joe, to wit: “Curl up for a great read and chuckle as these Irishmen run … I thanked my lucky stars my life was normal!” Lovely … Barry Forshaw, via Amazon UK, likes Nick Stone’s King of Swords: “If you’re looking for rough-edged crime fiction that will seriously unsettle you (and many of us seek exactly that), then King of Swords does the business – look no further.” Petew at Bookmunch agrees: “King of Swords is better than Mr Clarinet, which is pretty high praise. What it does … is cement Stone’s reputation as a writer of fierce crime fare.” Meanwhile, Jane Jakeman weighs in over at The Independent: “The book is a heady brew which could easily spill over into the ludicrous. That it does not is a tribute to the quality of Stone’s writing and the convincing character of Max … This is highly evocative writing, carrying a powerful and original story.” Mmmm, nice … The inevitable John Connolly / The Unquiet review comes from Publishers Weekly, via Barnes & Noble: “Of the few novelists who manage to combine the private eye and horror genres successfully, none does it better than Connolly.” Short ‘n’ sweet … Mark Sarvas of The Elegant Variation was interviewed by Wayne Yang at Eight Diagrams, and waxed lyrical about John Banville’s alter-ego, Benny Blanco (from the Bronx), to wit: “I also admire – no surprise here – what John Banville has done with his Benjamin Black novel Christine Falls, in which it’s a real pleasure to observe the not entirely dignified spectacle of a serious author having the time of his life.” Lovely … Have we mentioned Ken Bruen yet? No? Damn our beautiful eyes … “Bruen is one of those dark and brooding Irish writers, and the novel has more the flavour of Joseph Wambaugh with its spare prose, profanity-filled dialogue, multiple plots hurtling forward, and multiple viewpoints,” says Hallie Ephron of Ammunition at Boston.com. Dave Knadler at Dave’s Fiction Warehouse has been reading Calibre: “It’s certainly an easy read – stripped-down, lean and mean, slick as polished steel. And I’m pretty sure it will be the shortest book I’ve read all year … it’s almost as though Bruen has invented a new class of book here – the crime novel for people who don’t have time for crime novels.” Meanwhile, Todd Robinson is nominating the Brant’s early years collection, The White Trilogy, as Thuglit’s Thug Pick for September, to wit: “For those of you unfamiliar as of yet with this brilliantly dark and darkly funny series, here’s your intro.” Hmmm, pithy … What more can possibly be said about Tana French’s In The Woods? Erm, quite a lot, actually, beginning with Nancy Pearl at NPR: “Tana French’s intense debut novel, In the Woods, is part whodunit, part psychological thriller (à la Barbara Vine and Patricia Highsmith), and wholly successful … Because these characters are so well drawn, I almost wish French would write another novel about them, but a more sensible voice (my own) tells me that it wouldn’t be the same and I should just be delighted to have found such a well-written, expertly plotted thriller.” Over at Dewey’s Dartboard, Dewey is impressed too: “What follows is a terrific crime novel. The writing is wonderful and it definitely keeps you wanting to turn the pages.” Finally, Peter William Warm at Epinions offers a measured epinion: “French’s storytelling is subtle and the uncertainties she weaves are engaging. Life seldom ties everything up neatly. In The Woods is true to that part of life and many others.” All of which is very nice indeed … Are we nearly through yet? No? Buggery … “Kelly is a master of pacing and characterisation, painting in enough intriguing traits and history to make you feel as if you know his cast, and he also makes Cambridgeshire a character in its own right, giving the county a sense of unease that consistently holds the reader’s attention,” reckons Lee Davis of Jim Kelly’s Skeleton Man over at In The News “Wow. What a novel. Different is the key word. A dramatic twist on life and passions,” exclaims Maryeks at In Search of a Novel about Claire Kilroy’s Tenderwire. Publishers Weekly, via Powell’s Books, concurs thusly: “The slapstick fallout from a violinist’s purchase of a rare instrument of dubious origin makes for a taut, confident American debut by Irish writer Kilroy.” Gorgeous stuff … although not quite as gorgeous as Evening Stories’ big-up for Gene Kerrigan’s latest, to wit: “Tense and expertly plotted, The Midnight Choir is a stunning portrayal of life on the edge of society … a magnificent accomplishment, a powerful and intricate novel, driven to the last page at a tremendous pace by an original voice.” Pity Review of the Week goes to Alan Glynn at SallyandAlan’s Blog: “I’m not the author of Dark Fields but I fully recommend it.” Genius … “As events become more outrageous, more morally indefensible, the voice telling them is still matter-of-fact, knowledgeable and apparently compassionate. There is a disjunction between voice and subject matter, like the disjunction built into the main character’s name. This is an unreliable narrator armed with a rifle. Maybe a schizophrene,” says Nicholas Reid at the New Zealand Listener of Gerard Donovan’s Julius Winsome … Ingrid Black’s The Judas Heart isn’t out until October 30, but Betty Bookmark is already in full-on hup-ya mode, to wit: “The Judas Heart is one of a thrilling series featuring the charismatic and tough-talking FBI agent, Saxon - a heroine to rival Cornwell’s Scarpetta and Gerritsen’s Jane Rizzoli. This cat and mouse chase is packed with twists and turns that will keep every crime fan on the edge of their seat.” Finally, what of Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant? Well, the Book Diva loves it: “Funny, action-packed, mystical & magical – what more could I ask for in a book, post-Potter?” So does Jamieson Wolf: “I LOVE this book. It’s fun, light and oh so very good … This is the neatest book to come along in years and I’m going to have to read it a second time after I’ve read it through all the way.” We’ll leave the last word to Sheehan Ilana over at Sheehan Ilana News: “Skulduggery Pleasant is part Dashiell Hammett with a stir of Raymond Chandler and shaken well with magic and fantasy. Storyteller Landy has laced the mix with humour and action. This is one of my favourite books this year!” Whew! And now we’re off for a long lie-down in a darkened room …

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