“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.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Monday Review

The Crime Always Pays elves are still a little wonky from celebrating Derek Landy’s win at the Richard and Judy Kids’ Books bunfight with their patented Elf-Wonking Juice, so what better way to kick off the review than with a few big-ups for SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT, to wit: “This novel is funny, action-packed, sarcastic, and impressive in the way the story unfolds. Reminds me of Harry Potter in many aspects,” says Mordistheve over ye olde Live Journal. There’s a certain Reading Fool who agrees: “What a thoroughly fun read this book is! And I do believe there’ll be more where this one came from, which is truly cause for cheering.” Huzzah, indeed. “As a novel JULIUS WINSOME is constructed and written extremely well, with each chapter journeying you through Julius’s mental states which alternate from grief to anger to detached madness … The story ends like it begins, mysterious and quaint. It really is a lovely piece of writing,” reckons Brienne Burnett of Gerard Donovan’s mini-epic at The Program … It’s not due until next month but they’re already starting to filter in for Benny Blanco’s THE SILVER SWAN, to wit: “Sadly this year Michael Dibdin, the creator of the wonderful Aurelio Zen and that tantalising blend of Italian society, crime and politics, died leaving a huge hole in crime fiction. I think that Black and Quirke are filling that gap with this wholly gripping account of the shady, priest-ridden and blithely corrupt society of mid- 20th century Dublin,” says Tom Rosenthal at the Daily Mail. Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun Times likes the audio of CHRISTINE FALLS: “This is one of those rare occurrences when actor/narrator and prose suit each other so perfectly that the CD’s cost seems a small price to pay for the value of the performance.” Coolio. Onward to the inevitable John Connolly hup-yas: “Connolly writes convincingly of thugs, criminals and the supernatural, and Parker is a classic character who walks straight and tall like someone from the old west, and the reader knows all will be well once he arrives in town. THE UNQUIET just won’t let you put it down as the plot careers across the pages like a runaway train. Excellent!” burbles Mark Timlin of the Independent on Sunday, via Waterstones, where you'll also find that the Independent is no less impressed: “Connolly’s books are shot through with bitter poetry, and couched in prose as elegant as most literary fiction ... there’s the sweeping canvas, more ambitious than most British-set crime thrillers. However, all of this is not the overriding reason why Connolly has risen above most of his peers. It’s because Connolly’s work has raised the stakes, beyond the quotidian concerns of most crime novels, into a grandiose conflict between the forces of good and evil, with religion and the paranormal stirred into the heady brew.” Mmmm, gorgeous. A hop, skip and jump across the electronic highway to Amazon for Laura Mullen’s big-up for Sean Moncrieff’s THE HISTORY OF THINGS, the gist of which runneth thusly: “This book is a complete revelation to me … The description of his father’s death was really beautiful – it brought tears to my eyes – and his various relationships were really well handled. I hope he writes much, much more.” As for Andrew Pepper, he’s got a brand new VBF in Skelde at Book Crossing: “THE LAST DAYS OF NEWGATE is a gripping, darkly atmospheric story with a fantastic, pragmatic – and reluctantly heroic – hero.” Over at the Mail on Sunday, Geoffrey Wansell assesses the nine millionth Jack Higgins offering, THE KILLING GROUND: “Dillon remains as cynical, dangerous and ferocious as he always was, but with a trace of Irish philosophy and wry humour that made him one of the most interesting action-heroes of the 1990s … The only flaw is that sometimes the action is so breathless, with the characters appearing so quickly, that it can take a little time to catch up.” Finally, a flurry of Ken Bruen, whose AMMUNITION is still garnering serious big-ups, to wit: “Fast-paced, short, sharp sentences, brutally funny, brutally violent, noir that is pitch black, a sheer ride that thrills. Inspector Brant scares the bejeezus outta me,” quavers Bob the Wordless at Why Can’t I Write?, while Harriet Klausner pitches in with “The seventh Brant police procedural is a terrific action-packed thriller, but even with the return of Vixen, it is the avenging inspector who makes the mean streets of London meaner and more fun for fans of Mr Bruen, the heir to Mr McBain’s police station tales.” Lovely. But we’ll leave the last word this week to Bill Crider: “Some people prefer Ken Bruen’s novels about Jack Taylor, nothing wrong with that, but for me it’s Brant and his mates of the Southeast London Police Squad … I find them fast, furious, and hilarious.” And yon Bill, he knows of what he speaks …

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