“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.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Death, Where Is Thy Sting? Oh, There It Is …

Two true crime releases for you this week, folks. Hachette Ireland publishes LOVE YOU TO DEATH by Sunday Tribune journalist Michael Clifford, which offers a potted history of Irish wife-killers, with the blurb elves wittering thusly:
From the recent notorious and horrific murders of Rachel O’Reilly, Dolores McCrea and Siobhan Kearney, cases are outlined as far back as the poisoning of Margaret Lehman in Dublin of the war years, for which her husband was hanged in 1945. A picture is revealed about how little has changed in this area of crime, but also about how society’s attitude has changed towards it, as reflected in court verdicts and sentences. From open-and-shut cases to ones that relied on detailed forensic evidence, the book also examines the aftermath, describing courtroom scenes of high emotion as the bereaved family seek to ensure their former in-law is held accountable for the crime. In its detailed examination of Ireland’s most notorious wife killings from the 1940s right up to present day and the most recent returned verdict in the Siobhan Kearney case, LOVE YOU TO DEATH charts each story from apparently normal marriages all the way to a violent ending and a legal conclusions. A chilling, gripping and at times gruesome read.
Meanwhile, Maverick House republish GANGSTER by the Sunday Times’ John Mooney, which details the life and crimes of John Gilligan. To wit:
GANGSTER is the critically acclaimed biography of John Gilligan, the biggest drugs trafficker to emerge from the Irish underworld. The book is an extraordinarily account of how a young Dubliner became a multi-millionaire criminal. It uses first-hand interviews with Gilligan, his thugs, friends, family, enemies, anti-drugs activists, members of the IRA and the police. It tells of violence, kidnapping, shootings, criminal espionage, drug dealing and how criminal gangs vied for power to control the Irish trade in drugs. Shocking, fascinating and frightening, GANGSTER also tells the story behind the murder of Veronica Guerin, the crime reporter. Fully updated and revised with new photographs.
Can’t say I’ve ever been bitten by the true crime bug, although IN COLD BLOOD is a terrific read. Maybe it’s because the details are too sordid and the evil banal, but mainly I think it’s because although there’s crime and (usually) punishment, which satisfies the basic narrative arc, it generally lacks the sense of redemption – something other, something sacred or hallowed – that good crime fiction delivers. Any thoughts and / or recommendations?

1 comment:

Peter Rozovsky said...

OK, here's a thought, which may be the same as yours but in different words. I've never been attracted to true crime because the concept seem uncomfortably exploitative.
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Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
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