“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.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Whither Quirke?

It’s not that the CAP elves aren’t somersaultingly, pant-wettingly delighted that Benny Blanco (or ‘John Banville writing as Benjamin Black’, as the cover sticker whispers) has a third crime novel on the way – THE LEMUR, currently being serialised in the New York Times, is due in hardback this side of the pond on October 3rd – but they are curious as to where quirky ol’ Quirke has disappeared to. The opening brace in Benny’s oeuvre featured loquacious pathologist Quirke perambulating around 1950s Dublin, with occasional jaunts to Boston for a change of scenery, if not pace, but THE LEMUR is set in contemporary New York, and its main protagonist is John Glass – a surreptitious nod, we’re hoping, to JD Salinger. Anyhoo, quoth the US blurb elves:
John Glass’s life in New York should be plenty comfortable. He’s given up his career as a journalist to write an authorized biography of his father-in-law, communications magnate and former CIA agent Big Bill Mulholland. He works in a big office in Mulholland Tower, rent-free, and goes home (most nights) to his wealthy and well-preserved wife, Wild Bill’s daughter. He misses his old life sometimes, but all in all things have turned out well. But when his shifty young researcher – a man he calls ‘The Lemur’ – turns up some unflattering information about the family, Glass’s whole easy existence is threatened. Then the young man is murdered, and it’s up to Glass to find out what The Lemur knew, and who killed him, before any secrets come out – and before any other bodies appear. Shifting from 1950s Dublin to contemporary New York, the masterful crime writer Benjamin Black returns in this standalone thriller – a story of family secrets so deep, and so dangerous, that anyone might kill to keep them hidden.
Hurrah! Meanwhile, quoth the UK blurb elves:
William ‘Big Bill’ Mulholland is an Irish-American electronics billionaire. An ex-CIA operative, he now heads up the Mulholland Trust, with the help of his daughter Louise. When he gets wind of a hostile biography planned for him by the investigative journalist Wilson Cleaver, he commissions his daughter’s husband, John Glass, to pen the official line. But Glass’ young researcher tries to blackmail him, and Glass is horrified, fearing that his own secrets, as well as the Mulhollands’, are at risk. He slings him off the project, only to hear from the NYPD that the man he has nicknamed ‘the Lemur’ has been found fatally shot ... Silence cannot be bought – even by one of New York’s wealthiest families. Riddled with explosive secrets, THE LEMUR is a brilliant contemporary thriller that sees Benjamin Black at the top of his game.
Hmmmm ... ‘slings’, ‘riddled’, ‘explosive’, ‘fatally’ … Subtle differences in the language, no? Are Benny’s publishers trying to protect his gentle US readers? Or are his UK publishers amping up the content to lure in the more hardboiled UK readers? And where the blummin’ hell is our favourite lugubrious pathologist? Has Big Bill Mulholland bumped off his illegitimate son Quirke? Is Glass – who is hardly as transparent as his name might suggest, if Benny’s Dickens-like play on monikers is anything to go by – the third cousin, twice-removed, of the mysteriously absent Quirke? And is there even a remote possibility that the elves really should get out a little more, or at the very least cease and desist obsessing about the tortuously convoluted lineages Benny famously knocks out of a morning just in time for elevenses? Only time, that notoriously dithering doity rat, will tell …

1 comment:

cfr said...

I've been meaning to draw your attention to this for a while. An interview with BB/JB on The Book Show (skyARTS):
http://youtube.com/watch?v=NXX7Mv-pkSs

He makes some interesting comments. Early on, the sort of comments might make you want to stick the knife in to deflate his ego, but then he does manage to redeem himself.

Enjoy! (And I'm sure you'll have something to say on what he declares in this interview...)