“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, May 5, 2008

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “A pleasure of the guiltiest kind, like No Country For Old Men as directed by Mel Brooks,” reckons Booklist (via Hard Case Crime) of the third Ken Bruen and Jason Starr collaboration, THE MAX. Meanwhile, Enigma likes PRIEST: “PRIEST, just nominated for a 2008 Edgar award, is a wonderful book, with, I think, some differences from the others in the Jack Taylor series … It’s a page-turner; not because of the murder, but what the events show us about Jack. His story remains compelling, however brooding and depressing the emotional landscape.” Stephanie Padilla at New Mystery Reader has taken a gander at CROSS: “As is usual with Bruen’s darkly noir outings featuring Galway’s Jack Taylor, the reader is treated to more of an expose on Ireland’s latest grievances, along with the murmurings of a man who daily walks along both the edges of his disappearing country and the ruins of his past …” And the Irish Emigrant is of the same opinion: “Not being a fan of the crime genre in fiction I was prepared to read Ken Bruen’s novel as a task, but willingly admit that by the time I had reached the halfway mark I had begun to identify with the troubled Jack Taylor and read with increasing interest. The mixture of anger, self-loathing and remorse conspires to present a man capable of redemption.” Staying with the Irish Emigrant for the verdict on Aifric Campbell’s debut: “Sibling rivalry and a yearning for an unobtainable maternal affection runs like a malignant current through THE SEMANTICS OF MURDER. The narrative is wrapped in the language of psychoanalysis and semantics, shot through with sometimes quite startling descriptions of the sexual act but descriptions which nonetheless are accompanied by a palpable detachment.” Onward to Brian McGilloway’s GALLOWS LANE: “As with BORDERLANDS, the first in the series, the style is understated in a way that paradoxically emphasizes the horror and emotion of the crimes and their aftermath … Among the very accomplished group of new Irish crime writers, McGilloway ranks very high in his ability to evoke a particular milieu, to populate it with interesting and believable characters, and to structure his stories around meaningful (if sometimes horrifying) metaphors,” says Glenn Harper at International Noir. Mark Taylor at the Newham Recorder broadly agrees: “The twists rack up the tension nicely and, unlike many of his contemporaries, McGilloway manages to keep you interested and guessing until the very last page. What also sets it apart is the way he manages to instil even some of the most minor characters with a humanity and interest not always apparent in the crime thriller genre.” What of Benny Blanco? “THE SILVER SWAN is an intense, well-written novel, worthy of Booker Prize-winner, Banville. Quirke is the classic anti-hero, with just enough contradictions to make him likeable. This is the perfect sequel to CHRISTINE FALLS and hopefully not the last of the series,” says Sandy Mitchell at Suite 101. Tom Corcoran, via the Five Star website, likes Michael Haskins’ debut: “In this seaworthy tale, Haskins proves that intrigue is the craft of thugs; patriotism, no matter the country, can warp to order; and the good don’t always prevail. But sometimes they do. CHASIN’ THE WIND is a deep-draft thriller. Take a reef in your main and hang on for the gale.” They’re starting to filter through now for John Connolly’s THE REAPERS: “As with all of JC’s books, it is very well researched and plotted. This was, in his own words, a bit of a ‘fun’ book to reward long-time fans of the Charlie Parker series … It was very good,” reckons John Hubbard at Judge, Jury and John. More JC from Larry Fire at The Fire Wire: “Connolly’s triumphant prose and unerring rendering of his tortured characters mesmerize and chill. He creates a world where everyone is corrupt, murderers go unpunished, but betrayals are always avenged. Yet another masterpiece from a proven talent, THE REAPERS will terrify and transfix.” John McFetridge’s debut, DIRTY SWEET, impressed Mr and Mrs Kirkus (no link): “It’s refreshingly hard to tell the good from the no-good in this helping of cops and robbers, Canadian style … Bristling action, a vivid sense of place and nary a plot twist telegraphed. Exceptional work from McFetridge.” A quicky for Siobhan Dowd’s THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY from Read to Recommend: “Part mystery, part family story, Irish writer Siobhan Dowd has crafted a smart, fun and thought provoking tale you'll be thinking about days after you are finished.” Lovely … Someone at Reed Business Information likes Adrian McKinty’s THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD: “McKinty writes masterful action scenes, and he whips up a frenzy as the bullets begin to fly. Devotees of Irish literature will also appreciate the many allusions to Joyce’s ULYSSES.” Alis at Hawkins Bizarre was impressed by WHAT WAS LOST: “Catherine O’Flynn is a wonderful delineator of character – in a few well-chosen sentences people are laid bare before the reader, their souls dissected, their past lives served up in a few well-chosen details … Read it if you want characters so real you feel you have to go and ask them how they felt about being written about in this book.” Finally, a couple for Derek Landy: “The plot is complex at times, with alliances being forged on multiple fronts. Lots of magic, fights, conspiracies will keep you reading through the night. Derek has written a brilliant book that in my opinion surpasses Harry Potter by miles,” says Babushak at A Bookseller and Two Cats. Over at The Dan Blog, Dan likes PLAYING WITH FIRE: “I would rate it 9/10 because it wasn’t as exciting as the last book but is still a good book. And may the Lord be with you.” And may the Lord be with you too, Dan …

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