“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.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

“Why The Hell Have We Been Ignoring …” # 213: Walter Keady

Maybe it’s that the radar is on the fritz, and maybe – more likely – the radar-manning elves have been sneaking hits off HR Pufnstuf’s hookah, but we’ve totally overlooked Walter Keady’s THE DOWRY, which was released last year to a veritable torrent of big-ups and hup-yas. Quoth Publishers Weekly:
“The young people of Coshlawn Crann in rural Ireland simply aren’t marrying and properly propagating in the hardscrabble post-war 1946. It’s all about the economy, and Father Donovan isn’t above using the power of his collar to lean on two locals who can get something done: rich skinflint farmer Tom McDermott and publican Austin Glynn (some of whose wealth comes from bank robberies long ago in the Bronx). Tom’s older son, Martin, the town Lothario, soon finds himself engaged to Austin’s daughter, Aideen, a good-hearted girl with a face ‘like the back of a bus.’ Biking home from popping the question, Martin runs into Barney Murphy’s donkey on the bridge, tumbles into the river and is believed drowned. He quickly decides to stay dead and slips off to London — where he soon wearies of actually having to work and starts dreaming about Aideen’s dowry. Ex-priest Keady (THE ALTRUIST) writes with authority about matters of the church. He’s also a sharp plotter, and his characters shine: from Brideen Conway, the comely schoolteacher Father Donovan loves a little too much, to strap-happy schoolmaster Alphonsus Finnerty, who secretly writes romances as ‘Laura Devon.’ The multiple happy endings may be inevitable, but they’re earned.”
Mmmm, lovely. But lo! There’s more! Booklist chips in with “A vivid, easy-reading period piece,” while Mr and Mrs Kirkus reckon that “[T]his winning effort from former priest Keady ... can be forgiven its clichés. Charming Celtic comedy of manners.” Hurrah! But there’s more! “Keady’s folksy, conspiratorial tone is truly irresistible,” proclaimed the Washington Post, while the Library Journal believes that “Keady is a refreshing new voice in Irish fiction.” Crikey! It’s a cozy Celtic crime frenzy, people …

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