“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, April 7, 2008

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “Enough good crime novels have been set in Ireland that the novelty value has well and truly worn off and any new thriller set here needs to be particularly compelling in order to be successful. Happily, Brian McGilloway’s GALLOWS LANE shows just how mature the Irish crime thriller has become … With its own voice and something interesting to say about society in the North, Gallows Lane is an enjoyable and absorbing read,” says Alex Meehan at the Sunday Business Post. Marcel Berlins at The Times agrees: “Brian McGilloway’s BORDERLANDS was one of last year’s most impressive debuts. Does GALLOWS LANE pass the feared “second novel” test? Easily.” Not to be outdone, the Tyrone Herald weighs in thusly: “A ripping yarn that scorches its way through an early heatwave ... McGilloway is carving out a thrilling crime fiction franchise in the Lifford-Strabane area and this second offering does not disappoint.” And then there’s Susanna Yager at The Sunday Telegraph: “Brian McGilloway once again captures the atmosphere of the Irish borderlands in GALLOWS LANE … McGilloway skilfully handles the tangled threads of a conspiracy surrounding an old crime, to make a satisfying mystery with an attractive central character.” Nice … They’re still coming in for David Park’s THE TRUTH COMMISSIONER: “Park’s multi-strand narrative proves to be an adept device for the deliverance of incommunicable truth,” reckons Jean Hannah Edelstein at The Guardian, while Emer O’Kelly at the Sunday Independent is very impressed: “DAVID Park’s seventh novel is not only powerful and written with a deceptive, elegant clarity; it is also an important commentary on the aftermath of civil war … THE TRUTH COMMISSIONER reads with frightening, chilling truth, another proof that art is the most relentless of all mirrors in society.” A quick one from Charlotte Evans at the New Zealand Herald for Ian Sansom’s THE DELEGATE’S CHOICE: “Sansom writes with a delightful sense of the absurd and pokes gentle fun at the pretentiousness of literary types.” A rather longer one from Brendan Kelly at the Sunday Business Post for Aifric Campbell’s debut: “THE SEMANTICS OF MURDER is an involving, exciting read, filled with well-drawn, credible characters and a plot that surges along with little hesitation and a great deal of style. The novel’s greatest strength, however, lies in Campbell’s acute understanding of the worlds of psychology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis … This novel belongs to the extraordinary, expanding tradition of story-telling based in the psychotherapeutic milieu.” And now for something completely different: “A dark fantasy novel about a young man who wants to become a powerful gangster, it’s very different in style and tone to my children’s books, but is written in the same straightforward, pacy style,” says IndieLondon about DB Shan’s PROCESSION OF THE DEAD. “This isn’t your ordinary cops-and-robbers mystery, but there is a page-turning yarn here with a startling, satisfying ending,” agrees Bill Sass at the Edmonton Journal Review. “The plot is excellent, with many twists and turns, and the technicolour cast of characters are as entertaining as they are repellent. With PROCESSION OF THE DEAD, [DB Shan] has produced a macabre, yet stylish, dark urban fantasy that’s more than worth the cover price for fantasy fans who like their strangeness to have an urban noir feel,” reckons the ever-reliable Alex Meehan at the Sunday Business Post, while Lisa Tuttle at The Times likes it too: “The narrative voice is engagingly cocky, the action races along, and there are some surprises lurking behind the familiar scenario … Many scenes seem recycled from violent crime movies – the massacre in a warehouse, the severed head in a refrigerator – while others are pure Enid Blyton.” Hurrah! Onward to John McFetridge’s EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE: “[McFetridge] has a gift for dialogue and setting . . . [and] is an author to watch. He has a great eye for detail, and Toronto has never looked seedier,” say the good folk at the Toronto Globe & Mail, via Amazon US. Over at Commonsense Media, Matt Berman likes Siobhan Dowd’s THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY: “Aimed at younger readers … this one scores on two counts. The first is the mystery: it’s tightly constructed and solid … The second is Ted, whose quirks are mostly endearing, and whose eventual success is so satisfying … For kids who like their mysteries realistic, this will be a welcome addition to a genre that, right now at least, is not exactly burgeoning.” Meanwhile, The Guardian’s Geraldine Brennan likes Siobhan’s BOG CHILD: “A captivating first love affair, a hilarious red herring and profound truths about politics and family add up to a novel set to win awards in the coming year.” A swift brace of big-ups for KT McCaffrey’s THE CAT TRAP: “KT McCaffrey’s sixth Emma Boylan novel is a mystery that reads as quick as a scalded cat, and is as prone to bare its teeth for a sharp hiss. With her sexy style and occasional bulimia, this investigative reporter is welcome at any crime scene,” says the inimitable Critical Mick, while Myles McWeeney at the Irish Independent (no link) is equally impressed: “In the latest of the excellent series featuring Dublin journalist Emma Boylan … KT McCaffrey maintains the suspense throughout, and casts a cold eye on the gloss of modern Ireland.” On we go to Derek Landy’s SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT: “It’s written in a very cinematic way, with exciting chase scenes and fight scenes and inventive visual detail. I am so loath to compare books with Harry Potter, but – yeah, in that respect it does remind me of the HP books. But the other part that made this book fun for me was the dialogue between Stephanie and Skulduggery, which is wall-to-wall deadpan sarcasm,” says one of a Swarm of Beasts. Erica at Book Diva, meanwhile, loves the audio version: “I am listening to what is officially the Best Audiobook Of All Time. Really. The Most Completely Fabulous And Entertaining Thing I Have Ever Heard In My Entire Life Ever, No Exaggeration Or Joking: SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT by Derek Landy. Oh. My. Goodness. The story lends itself marvellously to an audio format, and the guy’s voice performing it (who is, curiously, named Rupert Degas) is absolute gold. Better even, his voice is platinum encrusted with diamonds and garnished with beluga caviar and French truffles unearthed by pigs in the french countryside.” Lovely … Just time for a quick pair for Benny Blanco’s THE SILVER SWAN: “A fast-paced, interesting plot, well-defined characters and evocative prose are the architectural underpinnings of THE SILVER SWAN,” reckons Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum at Book Reporter, via Streets of Dublin, while MADReads is also impressed: “Black’s nuanced grasp of human relationships more than made up for these failings. The suspense crescendos to the last page and Black, like the best of crime writers, kept me guessing to the end.” Finally, via the Macmillan US page for AMMUNITION, a quartet of big-ups for Sir Kenneth of Bruen: “It’s always a delight to discover a writer with an utterly distinctive voice…the words that best describe him, besides original, are outrageous and hilarious.” (Washington Post) “Bruen’s furious hard-boiled prose, chopped down to its trademark essence, never fails to astonish.” (Publishers Weekly) “Bruen’s style is clipped, caustic, heartbreaking and often hilarious.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer) and “Irish writer Ken Bruen does the noir thing well. His men are tough, his prose is lean, and there’s not a single drop or morsel of sentimentality to be found therein.” (Entertainment Weekly). ‘Therein’ – now there’s a word you are unlikely to read in a Ken Bruen novel any time soon …

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