“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “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. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Monday, December 31, 2007

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “IN THE WOODS by Tana French complements an evening by the fire perfectly. Irish author French expertly walks the line between police procedural and psychological thriller in her brilliant debut,” reckon the folk at Amazon’s Kindle Blog. “French does a great job of ramping up the tension … I had seriously mixed feelings about the ending (though it was entirely suitable), but I read the whole thing in one sitting so it gets a B+,” says Word Nerdy. Meanwhile, Sarah Weinman confers her not-inconsiderable imprimatur thusly: “It could stand to be cut by 100 pages, yes, but it’s clear to me [Tana French] has plenty of talent to burn and refine in subsequent novels.” Onward to Claire Kilroy’s TENDERWIRE: “Claire Kilroy’s writing is dramatic and lyrical by turns and the exotic features are just colourful background for a good and substantial yarn,” says Alice Fordham at The Times … Staying with The Times: “It is the rich characterisation that makes [I PREDICT A RIOT] worthwhile, in particular a litigious prostitute and a carrot-cake-induced coma victim,” says John Cooper … “Another new series of note comes from Brian McGilloway, the first novel being the wonderful BORDERLANDS. How good to have a setting with a difference and a policeman whose major priority in his personal life is his family and not seeing the bottom of a bottle of spirits,” reckons Crime Fic at It’s A Crime!Shadrach Anki likes Derek Landy’s SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT: “The title character is a walking, talking, fire-throwing skeleton. You don’t get much spiffier than that, seriously. When you throw in snappy dialogue, fast-paced action, and more magic than you can shake a stick at, it only gets better.” Lovely … “The fact that everything is just slightly over the top, and the cast of characters are all such complete losers, is what makes this book so darkly funny … The body count is reminiscent of HAMLET, but the plot twists are more like a Coen brothers movie. Not for the squeamish, the sensitive or the literal, this book would be great for fans of Elmore Leonard and Quentin Tarantino,” says Rainbird at Ketchikan Public Library of the Ken Bruen /Jason Starr collaboration SLIDE … Ready for the obligatory John Connolly hup-yas? “THE UNQUIET is so literary in themes it cries for the author to be the next Jonathan Lethem inductee into the hallowed halls of literature that appeals to the masses,” says Ruth Jordan at Central Crime Zone. “There is something about the way that Connolly writes without giving way to the usual horrors. His stories are undeniably dark but he has created a brooding darkness implicated more by what his characters represent than what they actually do,” reckons Adam Shardlow at A Walk in the Dark Woods. Meanwhile, Sally Roddom at Reviewer’s Choice like’s Andrew Pepper’s THE LAST DAYS OF NEWGATE: “He has succeeded in conjuring up in my mind the time, place and history of the story. If you like historical mysteries, and don’t mind gore, then this book is worth a read.” Bicko at the Review Column goes for an overview of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series, to wit: “As with the Harry Potter series, one thing I noticed was that as the series progressed, the themes of the books become more and more mature. Having read the entire series, I can safely say that the unique setting would draw the interests of both the young and old into the very possible scenario that we are not the smartest beings on this planet.” Donna Mansfield at Living With Books includes Adrian McKinty’s THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD in her 2007 Top 10: “McKinty is an extraordinary writer mixing scenes of violence, keen observation of Ireland today and lyrical soul-searching as Michael questions his life and years in exile.” Back to Sarah Weinman, via the ECW Press, for her verdict on John McFetridge’s DIRTY SWEET: “McFetridge describes a Toronto of opportunists, seedy deals, and double-crosses not unlike Elmore Leonard’s Detroit of James Ellroy’s Los Angeles, but his books are distinctly rooted in his home city’s rhythms and flavours.” Finally, they’re still coming in for Benny Blanco, aka Benjamin Black. First, CHRISTINE FALLS, via Faith McLellan: “A broodingly atmospheric period piece and a credit to its author, John Banville, who needn’t have used a pseudonym,” snooty-snoots William Grimes at the New York Times. “Quirke … is an endearing sleuth, not least because of his jaded eye and damaged soul. His struggles … are particularly poignant. Unique and deeply atmospheric,” says Cath Staincliffe at Tangled Web Reviews of THE SILVER SWAN. And Tom Adair of The Scotsman comes down on the side of big-up, just about, thusly: “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.” Nothing worse than a heap of relish and no meat to spread it on, eh?

2 comments:

Maxine said...

The reviews of Skulduggery P are curious -- as you may know this book is one of Richard and Judy's children's book club selections, with the sticker "9 years plus". I had bought the book for my 12 year old daughter for Christmas, and this sticker (rather than, as I had incorrectly predicted, the skull on the cover) has put her off reading it.
However, based on the review snippets you give here, doesn't it seem odd to you that the book has been selected for 9 year olds? That sounds awfully young for "The body count is reminiscent of HAMLET, but the plot twists are more like a Coen brothers movie." Or was that in relation to Ken Bruen?

Declan Burke said...

Hi Maxine - Yep, the Hamlet / Coen Brothers review was Ken Bruen / Jason Starr ... As for a suitable age for Skulduggery, I'd have thought 9 years a little young, myself ... there are one or two dark spots in there, and the banter between the main characters is quite mature ... I'd say it's more appropriate reading for a 12-year-old, definitely. Cheers, Dec