“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, March 10, 2008

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “GARCIA’S HEART is an astounding psychological thriller about moral responsibility and the human capacity for both denial and forgiveness,” declares the Barnes & Noble Spring 2008 Selection of Liam Durcan’s debut. At the same link, Christopher Bussman of the Library Journal is equally impressed: “Though [Durcan] has yet to develop fully his authorial powers and talent, he already writes with an ease reminiscent of Graham Greene … As the plot unfolds, the novel takes on a breathtaking immediacy that will awe readers and tune them into probing ethical dilemmas.” Mr & Mrs Kirkus concur: “The author’s expertise may lie firmly in the field of science, but his shrewd, intricate debut reveals a multi-talented artist.” Lovely stuff … Over at Heatseekers, Lucille Redmond likes Ronan O’Brien’s CONFESSIONS OF A FALLEN ANGEL: “The humour is the book’s best thing – Charlie’s wry descriptions and vicious banter will make readers burst out laughing … There are great characters here, mostly the really nasty ones. And there’s plenty of slapstick, and hilarious characters.” Staying with Heatseekers, for the verdict on David Parks’ THE TRUTH COMMISSIONER: “The book reads as if researched from within the security services. But the quality of the writing is fine, with a glowing interiority that at times lifts the stories off the pages.” ‘Interiority’? We love it … The Artist Formerly Known As Colin Bateman’s ORPHEUS RISING gets a serious hup-ya from L.J. Hurst at Shots Magazine: “Forget Colin Bateman the comic novelist: there is little “darkly comic” fiction here. This is dark tragedy, played out in the sun of the Florida coast, with the occasional rocket launch like an extra illumination … If you know how good Christopher Priest can be, Bateman’s ORPHEUS RISING will not disappoint you.” Yum-yum … “The book is very enjoyable – good balance of wit and action and so on, although I found it very hard to believe that Stephanie was 12,” quibbles Tiny Jo of Derek Landy’s SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT … And now for a veritable raft of Ken Bruen big-ups, beginning with Mr & Mrs Kirkus (no link) on AMERICAN SKIN: “Bruen’s fans will know that monsters lie in wait. There are the usual rewards in terms of style, pace and, yes, flashes of mordant wit, but be warned: This is Bruen beyond noir into full-out stygian.” Hannah Tucker at Entertainment Weekly likes PRIEST: “Taylor’s winning, even lovable blend of bleak philosophy and noirish humour … is more gripping than the novel’s central mystery. B+.” Over at Reviewing the Evidence, Christine Zibas is very impressed with CROSS: “CROSS is a fascinating look at one man’s struggle with his own inner demons and those of the criminals around him, who have thrust their own brand of evil upon the world. This is not necessarily an easy story to read, but it will surely be one of the best you can remember.” Pardon us as we seamlessly segue: “Ken Bruen’s blood runs through Jack Barry’s veins in this gritty Northern Ireland story … A very fast ride, and often the scenery gets blurred as it whizzes past the window. Just hang on and read, and all will become clear,” says Gay Toltl Kinman at Crime Spree Magazine of MISS KATIE REGRETS. At the same link you’ll find Dave Biemann hupping it up for Cora Harrison’s debut: “Cora Harrison writes with an easy grace. The relationships between her characters reminds one, very much, of Ellis Peters and her Brother Cadfael … Fans of the traditional mystery, Irish history, off stage violence, subtle romance and a well paced and plotted read should thoroughly enjoy MY LADY JUDGE.” Hurrah! Meanwhile, Lady Lott provides us with the inevitable Tana French big-up: “IN THE WOODS is not only a mystery but a look at how the past shapes everything in our lives … Well written, intricately plotted and with characters that were completely believable, I found I could not put down this book. For those who expect their mysteries to be tied up in a neat little package, beware, this book ends the way life often does; not every question will have an answer.” Kate at Kate’s Home Blog was impressed with Catherine O’Flynn’s debut: “WHAT WAS LOST by Catherine O’Flynn is a stunning book. It’s not completely perfect – from a first-time writer, you wouldn’t expect it to be – but the story, the ambience, the slightly spooky alienation of it is just mind-blowing.” Better late than later, we say, poaching this from Finlay MacDonald’s review of Eoin McNamee’s 12:23 at the Sunday Star Times: “The best thing about 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 … He also goes where no one else dares, and imagines the death scene in surprisingly literary and moving fashion.” Over at The Guardian, Meg Rosoff is very complimentary about Siobhan Dowd’s BOG CHILD: “A radiant work, written by a novelist of subtle and complex literary gifts at the height of her powers … Her sentences sing; each note resonates with an urgent humanity of the sort that cannot be faked. BOG CHILD sparkles with optimism and a deep passion for living. Love falls from it in particles, like snow.” Finally, a veritable torrent of hup-yas and big-ups arrived in for Benny Blanco this week, starting with Elsa Dixler’s round-up in the New York Times: “Writing in The Times, Janet Maslin praised the “cool precision and contemplative allure” of Black’s debut [CHRISTINE FALLS] — not surprising, since Black is the Irish author John Banville. This is “crossover fiction of a very high order,” Maslin said.” Over at Publishers Weekly, via Barnes & Noble, the verdict on THE SILVER SWAN is very positive: “In this stunning follow-up to 2007’s CHRISTINE FALLS, Black spins a complex tale of murder and deception in 1950s Ireland … Laconic, stubborn Quirke makes an appealing hero as the pieces of this unsettling crime come together in a shocking conclusion.” At the same link you’ll find Lorna Griffith of Library Journal equally impressed: “Black / Banville is a master of atmosphere; the fear and dread associated with hidden desires and deeds fairly leap off the page. Highly recommended for all public libraries.” Then there’s this from the peerless Sarah Weinman at The Baltimore Sun: “Black, the pseudonym for Booker Prize winner John Banville, proved he could walk the crime fiction walk with the Edgar-nominated Christine Falls, and now his luminous prose gets an even better infrastructure with the sequel, a faster-paced, further melancholic slice of the noir life of Dublin pathologist Quirke.” And there is this from Tim Rutten at the LA Times: “The plot is grippingly propulsive, the evocation of Dublin is detail-perfect, every major and minor character is beautifully realized -- and there isn’t a clunky sentence in the book.” And lastly, but by no means leastly, this from Nancy O: “The writing, of course, is superb, and it’s uncanny how Black (aka John Banville) can get into the skin of each character he’s created … I HIGHLY recommend this book … Readers of Irish crime fiction will love it and serious mystery readers will enjoy it as well.” Erm, Nancy? Does that mean readers of Irish crime fiction aren’t serious mystery readers too? And there we were trying so blummin’ hard to be serious

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