“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 24, 2008

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “Tough, ironically self-aware, loyal, Ed [Loy] is the perfect Chandleresque hero. But the book’s various twists, including rumours of Catholic abuse at a now-closed home for boys, wrap themselves around a dense core of Irish authenticity, all the voices pitch-perfect, all the developments dark,” says P.G. Koch at the Houston Chronicle of THE DYING BREED (aka THE PRICE OF BLOOD). Here at CAP, some chancing wastrel called Declan Burke agrees: “THE DYING BREED is a complex, labyrinthine, gritty, coarse (and, yes, bloody) novel that exudes a brash confidence and an ambition that lies beyond its grasp – a description, it should be said, that could easily be applied to the nation that spawned the novel.” As does Diana Pinckley at the Times-Picayune: “THE PRICE OF BLOOD is violent yet compelling. If it’s Irish action you want, pick up this book and you’ll be off to the races.” Then there’s Answer Girl’s hup-ya: “What [Loy] finds is a horrifying tangle of lies, abuse and perversion that owes a bit to Webster’s THE DUCHESS OF MALFI. Very well done, as disturbing as anything I’ve read in a while, and appropriate to St. Patrick’s Day only in making me feel I needed a drink after.” As for Entertainment Weekly: “PI Ed Loy fancies himself a Dashiell Hammett throwback (picture Bogart with a brogue) … Since Declan Hughes suggests in THE PRICE OF BLOOD that those who remember Irish history are often doomed to repeat it, it’s no wonder his Dubliners are always after a drink: In Ireland, forgetfulness begets prosperity. B+,” says Jake Tracer. Onwards to Brian McGilloway’s latest: “If you like the books of Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson or other police procedurals, you’ll want to pick up the book BORDERLANDS by Brian McGilloway … I’ve just finished the advance reading copy of the second book in the series (coming in April) called GALLOW’S LANE. It’s just as good, if better not than the first book,” says
Rosalyn at The Dewey Divas and the Dudes. A couple of early reviews for Derek Landy’s follow-up to SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT, PLAYING WITH FIRE: “It’s a wild supernatural romp with vampires, skeletons, monsters, giant spiders, and other seriously creepy creatures. There’s plenty of action (it’s almost movie script-like in its pace) to keep even the most reluctant reader interested, but my favourite part was the snappy dialogue. Skulduggery is sarcastic, clever, and funny, which I suppose is an appropriate tone for a skeleton detective,” says Jenny at Insert Clever Title Here. Staying with Landy, The Siblings Scarington couldn’t really be more positive: “Landy’s strengths from the first book are back, and perfected. The pacing is spot on. There are no wasted scenes, and the book never loses steam … you’ll find yourself barrelling through the book because the action just never stops … Superior in every way to the first, SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT: PLAYING WITH FIRE is a thrill ride of excitement that never lets up and will capture a child’s imagination with its tale of danger and suspense!” Boo-ya! Meanwhile, back at Ronan O’Brien’s ranch-shaped interweb yokeybus: “CONFESSIONS OF A FALLEN ANGEL is a fresh, highly original debut by a writer not afraid to take on the bigger issues of life. Fate and love in their many guises stalk these pages, as well as a man who, like the hero in a Greek tragedy, rails against the destiny mapped out to him, trying only to safeguard what he holds dear. It will grip you from the first paragraph,” says Maggie O’Farrell … A quick couple of big-ups for Catherine O’Flynn’s debut: “If there is criticism to be made of WHAT WAS LOST, it’s that the storylines are too swiftly and neatly wrapped up in the conclusion … But for a debut novel, WHAT WAS LOST is amazingly accomplished,” says Pete Carvill of 3AM Magazine. The outrageously suave Suave Harv agrees: “I thoroughly enjoyed Catherine O’Flynn’s WHAT WAS LOST. One of the best new novels I’ve read for quite a while. Splendid stuff.” They’re still coming in for Benny Blanco: “Black (pseudonym of Booker Prize–winner John Banville) is a fine writer, reminiscent of P.D. James in his care for language and his emphasis on psychologically complex characters … Black weaves his characters through a neat and original plot that descends into the dark depths of Quirke's family history and rises to the highest ranks of the Catholic church,” says Paul at The Journal of a Good Life about CHRISTINE FALLS. Of Books and Bicycles likes THE SILVER SWAN: “I enjoyed the book for its plot, but even more so for the relationships the novel describes; as happens in some of the other crime novels I’ve read, the crime seems almost like an excuse to throw some characters together in difficult circumstances to see how they behave themselves.” Back to Rosalyn at The Dewey Divas and the Dudes for her verdict on Cora Harrison’s debut: “If you like historical mysteries, you’ll love MY LADY JUDGE, the first book in a new series by Cora Harrison set in the 16th century in the remote region of Ireland called The Burren. Fans of Peter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelma series will enjoy …” Apis Mellifica likes Gerard Donovan’s JULIUS WINSOME: “Is this a descent into madness or a reasoned response to calculated conspiracy involving his former lover? In its neatness, the ending disappoints, but the journey there is a wild ride poetically blanketed in the onset of winter’s weather.” Over at Hour, MJ Stone is impressed with Liam Durcan’s debut: “Once I cracked open GARCIA’S HEART, I couldn’t put it down … Durcan’s debut novel was both captivating and eloquent.” Chris at The Book Swede likes DB Shan’s PROCESSION OF THE DEAD: “Written well, funny in places, and a captivating read … This is a good book, and the characterisation was one of the best bits. Sadly, though, there seemed to be a sudden change in many characters attitudes towards the end of the book, but on the whole, I was surprised by just how good this was.” Critical Mick has come out swinging on behalf of IN THE WOODS: “Tana French has put her name to a book worth stealing, and worth fighting over.” Thank you, Mr Mick … A couple of strong reviews for Sam Millar’s latest: “This is a tale of revenge, greed and hate, and Kane is surrounded by people he cannot trust. The writing is bleak and raw, best accompanied by a stiff drink or two. BLOODSTORM does what is says on the cover, and bludgeons you with the grime and fury of an existence you can be relieved is either in fiction, or belongs to somebody else,” says Adrian Magson at Crime Reports in Shots Magazine. Shelley Marsden at The Irish World (no link) agrees: “Brutal language and bleak, darkly comic undercurrents … powerful and unsettling writing, that seeps into your bones like Belfast rain … Recommended reading by the NI Tourist Board this is not, but as a straight-talking crime thriller, it’s at the top ...” They’re still coming in for Eoin Colfer’s ARTEMIS FOWL AND THE LOST COLONY: “I really enjoy [the Artemis Fowl series] because it’s the anti-Potter. It’s a series that’s just as intriguing and well-written as Harry Potter, but without all the baggage that’s been attached to it,” reckons The Pew Reviews. The inevitable Ken Bruen big-up runneth thusly: “The prolific Bruen has three series going: Galway, London and America are the settings. And his Irish gift for words is in full flower, portraying loneliness with a description of Taylor charging his cell phone every day, even though no one ever calls him on it: “Carried it like a sad prayer in my jacket,”” says Diana Pinckley at the Times-Picayune. Over at The Telegraph, Dinah Hall laments Siobhan Dowd’s untimely death: “Siobhan Dowd died shortly after writing her third novel, BOG CHILD, which makes reading it a painful pleasure because you can’t help wondering what other great books might have been … Dowd’s lightness of touch allows humour and poignancy to shine through.” Finally, a couple of hup-yas for Lord John of Connolly: “This glorious novel is built about the Irish author’s love of storytelling and the supernatural … A wonderful book to read aloud to the family or hug to yourself which embraces not just the Celtic tradition but the Brothers Grimm,” says Lorri Amsden at Poisoned Pen Fiction Review of THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS. And over at Entertainment Weekly (via Powell’s Books), they’re impressed with THE UNQUIET: “Gimmicks aside, complex hero Parker is the chief draw in THE UNQUIET – he’s got a revenge-inspired evil streak to him, but metes out justice freely to those who truly deserve it. (Grade: B)”. Erm, Lord John? We know a few elves who merit some justice, if you wouldn’t mind calling around with your velvet cat o’nine tails …

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