“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, December 3, 2007

The Monday Review. But Lawks! ’Tis A Tuesday!

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “[Ken] Bruen’s brilliant, machine-gun quick dialogue and furious pacing makes him one of my all-time favourites and a perennial pick for the Notable list,” reckons Seth Marko of AMMUNITION at The Book Catapult’s End-of-Year Notable list. Over at Spinetingler Magazine, Sandra Ruttan agrees: “Far too many authors mistake volume for detail, and waste a lot of words never saying what Bruen can nail in a single sentence. He’s taken the lesson of writing short stories – that every single word must count – applied it to writing novels, and the result is stories that pull you into them and refuse to let you go until you’ve finished the last page. Somehow, Bruen also manages to pull off the difficult task of having an ensemble cast that never feels too large, weaves several storylines together in a way that seems effortless, and makes his lead a character who is completely unlikeable, and yet somehow endearing.” Brant endearing? Criminy … Onward to The Saturday Review, and Dan’s take on Andrew Pepper’s THE LAST DAYS OF NEWGATE: “Pyke is the very definition of anti-hero. Normally I am not attracted to amoral protagonists, preferring my heroes to be a little cleaner cut, but for some reason I really took to Pyke, and will certainly attempt to follow him on any subsequent adventures.” Which is nice … “The original characters (mainly Skulduggery and Stephanie but also the secondary characters) and the witty dialogue between them strengthen the basic good-triumphs-over-evil plot,” says Laura Baas at the Library and Literary Miscellany of Derek Landy’s SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT … They’re starting to trickle in for Julie Parson’s latest, I SAW YOU: “Madness, revenge and atonement all intermingle, as the pace of the novel increases towards a violent and bloody climax. Julie Parsons has written a page-turner that will keep the reader fascinated right to the very end,” says Vincent Banville at the Irish Times. Staying with Fab Vinnie, this time on Ruth Dudley Edwards’ latest: “MURDERING AMERICANS, as well as being a mystery thriller, casts a bleary satiric eye on the institutionalised correctness of American academia. Lovely stuff.” And now for something completely ZUGZWANG: “Bennett deftly evokes the atmosphere of a society in which an international chess tournament can seize the attention of the local populace while terrorist bombs are exploding around the city … ZUGZWANG moves quickly – there is not a moment when history gets in the way of the plot [take that, Marx!] – and yet the underlying message comes through quite clearly: The real madness in St. Petersburg is not in Dr. Spethmann’s office,” says Michael Wade at Execupundit. Over at Wynne’s World of Books, Wynne – for lo! It is he! – agrees: “The plot is convoluted with lots of twists and turns involving revolutionary and counter-revolutionary plots – all great fun but infused with political and ethical dilemmas … A really great read – highly recommended.” The Sunday Tribune carried a yearly round-up of best books which included Gerard Donovan’s JULIUS WINSOME: “A dark, vivid, and gently powerful novel about revenge and loneliness … delivered in precise prose as cold, sharp, and evocative as the shot described ringing out in the cold Maine October afternoon at the beginning of the book. O’Donovan’s narrator … is much more complicated than the normal run of the mill vengeful protagonist … and this is a book about the nature of revenge which is satisfyingly complex.” The Trib also liked Tana French’s IN THE WOODS, to wit: “The prose manages to be smart and satisfying without falling into the easy trap of being overly literary, making this the perfect antidote to the more pedestrian efforts which clog up the market. A very satisfying debut with a rich feel for character.” Sean Moncrieff’s THE HISTORY OF THINGS also went down a treat with the Trib: “A novel which is fully rounded and imbued with a sense of imminent doom … The various miseries inflicted upon Dalton are described with the kind of subtle detail that makes your skin crawl, and Moncrieff has a pitch-perfect feel for describing the aftermath of a broken marriage, and the slow steady disintegration of a mind under stress.” As for Declan Hughes’ THE COLOUR OF BLOOD, don’t get them Trib-types started. Ooops, too late: “This is a book that could so easily have become an unconvincing pastiche, maybe two parts Chinatown to one part Jim Rockford; but Hughes’s writing has the intelligence and integrity to allow him to create something which stands assuredly on its own two feet. If you like your detective fiction written with smarts, and a meaty, mature, and satisfying edge to it, then this book is for you.” Finally, Benny Blanco’s THE SILVER SWAN is still hauling in the big-ups, starting with Tom Adair in The Scotsman: “You sense that Banville / Black found it easy and wrote it quickly, wrote it with relish – one of the reasons you enjoy it, despite a nagging feeling of hunger for something meatier on the inside. Its descriptive power is delicious … all in all it’s a romp of a read, a compelling fix.” Over at The Telegraph, Tom Fleming is largely in agreement: “The writing and characterisation are enough to sustain the attention when the plot occasionally stalls. This is a literary thriller that merits the name.” And that, we’re almost entirely certain, is a very good thing …

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