“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 21, 2008

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “Siobhan Dowd, author of the wonderful THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY, has written another terrific young adult novel, this time set in Northern Ireland in 1981. It’s the best novel about The Troubles I’ve read, for adults or younger readers, with a real sense of what it must have been like in that place at that time … The author’s control of all this chaos is astonishing: she’s a very good writer and I hope lots of people, teenagers and adults will read this. A great book,” says Malcolm at Story Time Books of BOG CHILD. Over at The Times, Amanda Craig agrees: “ [BOG CHILD] fuses the tragedy of her prize-winning debut, A SWIFT PURE CRY, and the comedy of THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY into a beautifully achieved whole … It’s a tragic situation, beautifully described in Dowd's lucid, intense prose, yet also shot through with warmth, comedy and humanity that make it tremendous fun to read.” Jeri Cohen of SCLS Reads, meanwhile, is impressed with THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY: “This well-written mystery is by the author of last year’s A SWIFT PURE CRY … The resolution of the mystery may be too easily wrapped up for adult readers, but for the younger teens, it’s perfect.” Liam Durcan’s GARCIA’S HEART gets the big-up from the Literary Review of Canada: “Durcan’s language is sculpted with seemingly effortless precision. His sentences are rich with detail and metaphor, luxurious with reference and allusion, but also lean and raw, getting straight to the point of what he wants to describe.” Over at Mostly Fiction, Mary Whipple likes Gene Kerrigan’s THE MIDNIGHT CHOIR: “In this intriguing police procedural, Kerrigan keeps the action crisp and fast-paced, with plenty of complications to keep the reader busy … Dark and sad in its vision of humanity, even with the bleak humour that is scattered throughout, this dramatic and tense novel questions the relationship between freedom and responsibility, between order and justice, and between principles and expediency.” James Purdon at The Guardian likes Ronan Bennett’s latest: “Bennett has hit on a rich analogy in this lively thriller, set in tsarist Russia and on the chessboard … ZUGZWANG’s hard-boiled noir is an enjoyable addition to the genre.” Back to Mostly Fiction for Sudheer Apte’s take on ZUGZWANG: “This is a very fast-moving novel … While chess enthusiasts will relish this side dish, others can safely skip these descriptions and still enjoy the main course.” John Kenny at the Irish Times (no link) likes Aifric Campbell’s debut: “THE SEMANTICS OF MURDER succeeds nicely on its own terms because, as a novel of ideas, it delivers: it presents a range of frequently surprising ideas and encourages thought.” No harm in that … They’re tumbling in now for Derek Landy, folks: “His characters are broadly drawn, yet precise – like Chinese calligraphy done with a big fat brush dripping with ink. The dialogue is snappy, with some fun deconstructionist bits when Stephanie complains about the way Skulduggery is talking; and the plot is just twisty enough … [Skulduggery] puts me in mind of James Bond, if Clive Owen had gotten the job. Or Indiana Jones,” says YNL at Pink Me of SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT. Jamieson Wolf, on the other hand, likes the sequel: “[SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT] was funny, fun, frantic and incredibly fantastic … PLAYING WITH FIRE is better than Landy’s first offering. Landy manages to write a dark gothic fantasy that is laugh out loud funny and also incredibly original, fresh and new.” Caterina likes Tana French’s IN THE WOODS: “It’s a literary thriller with just the right amount of prosiness and just the right amount of plot. And it’s a great panegyric to the platonic male-female relationship, a girl-boy buddy / police partnership.” A couple now for Ken Bruen: “[BUST] is a sharply written novel with lots of twists, and it’s darkly funny. SLIDE is a follow-up with the same characters but it’s just a little more messed up. Both novels have a lot of Irish humour. I think I preferred the second because the writers let themselves go and had fun with it,” says Iremonger at A Sort of Homecoming. Over at Ketchikan Public Library, Rainbird is impressed with CROSS: “I’ve just finished Ken Bruen’s fourth Jack Taylor novel and the story has left me feeling a little depressed and bleak, as though I should be lashing out at someone. I also feel like I’ve stumbled across an amazing writer whose prose is so intriguing that it sucked me into reading a genre of book I don’t ordinarily enjoy: gritty realistic crime fiction.” A quick brace for Catherine O’Flynn’s award-winning debut: “WHAT WAS LOST is both very funny and very moving. Catherine O’Flynn captures perfectly the ferocious seriousness of childhood, and the heart-breaking emotional void below this child’s detective role-playing … In the end, it also becomes a love story,” says JMG at SCC English. Miss Jen B goes one better: “It’s probably the best book I’ve read since SUITE FRANCAISE and thus makes it onto my little list of ‘really awesome books’ … Seriously addictive and really well written.” RTE gives Twenty Major’s debut the hup-ya: “Sick, twisted, weird, politically incorrect, foul and brilliant, THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX PARK is a guilty pleasure that makes pot noodles look like porridge … this a great read and a fine accomplishment for his first novel.” Finally, a quartet for Declan Hughes’ latest, THE DYING BREED (aka THE PRICE OF BLOOD): “The story is character-driven, and Hughes once again shows his background in drama: the characters are individually well drawn, but come to life especially in their interactions with one another … Loy’s voice as narrator is solid and believable: he’s lively, without being overtly clever or glib like some crime narrators, to keep the reader on his side. And the rhythm and flow of Hughes’ prose style is rare eloquence in the field of crime fiction,” says Glenn Harper at International Noir. Merrimon Crawford at YourHub.com likes it too: “If you are looking for a unique read and one that stands out from all the books out there, in either suspense or literature, THE PRICE OF BLOOD is brilliant! Although tragic, THE PRICE OF BLOOD is hauntingly innovative.” John Boland at the Irish Independent is equally impressed:
“Here and elsewhere you feel you’re in the presence of a cut-price Philip Marlowe … but it’s a measure of Hughes’ command of plot and pacing and of his feel for character, tone and locale that you soon become absorbed in his narrative and cease to care about its hybrid origins.” And Claire Kilroy at the Irish Times overlooks some plotting issues to declare, “It is in his observation of Irish society that Hughes is at his most incisive … His keen ear for the demotic, his sharp eye for the damning detail, makes THE DYING BREED a vivid, gripping, and occasionally chilling read.” Buggery. There goes our ‘Killjoy Kilroy’ headline …

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