“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.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

On Log-Rolling And Blog-Rolling

One of the truly great things about blogging – the greatest, actually – is that it lets you be Holden Caulfield once in a while. In THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, Holden muses on how great it would be to be able to ring up an author whose book you’d just finished, just to shoot the breeze – so long as the guy wasn’t a phoney, of course.
  A few months back I read the first page of John McFetridge’s EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE and closed the book, went downstairs and told my wife that this guy McFetridge is the real deal. I didn’t know at the time that Elmore Leonard liked his stuff, or that Sarah Weinman had compared him to ‘Elmore Leonard meets James Ellroy’. I just knew.
  So I read the book and dropped him a line. He’s published in the U.S. by Harcourt, as THE BIG O will be come September. We got on well by email, so well that we’re doing a road-trip from Toronto to Baltimore for this year’s Bouchercon. So the danger is that we’re getting into log-rolling territory when I tell you that his debut, DIRTY SWEET, and his as-yet-unpublished GO ROUND, are some of the best crime novels I’ve ever read.
  I finished GO ROUND last night, and for those of you who’ve read McFetridge, the good news is that it’s the best of his first two novels condensed and streamlined into a stunning piece of fiction that put me in mind of George Pelecanos’ early Washington DC novels.
  Do I care about the log-rolling? Nope. My conscience is clear in that I read the guy’s book before I knew him. And what am I going to say – that his books aren’t great, just because I know him and someone might think I’m biased?
  Bullshit. John McFetridge is a star ascending and a terrific writer. End of story.
  The same applies to Adrian McKinty, who must have missed out on the Mystery Readers’ Journal ‘Irish Mysteries’ issue because he was relocating from Denver to Oz. His is a glaring absence from what’s virtually a Who’s Who of Irish crime fiction, because he offers a rare blend, that of a literary style with a convincingly brutal thuggishness.
  As with John McFetridge, I contacted Adrian McKinty after reading DEAD I WELL MAY BE, which seemed to me to represent a new departure for Irish crime fiction. Apart from being a brilliant writer, he’s a sound bloke with a good attitude, and his subsequent novels have delivered on the promise of his debut. He’s also written a number of excellent posts for Crime Always Pays.
  Should I pretend I don’t like McKinty’s novels because he is, at this stage, a mate? Should I refrain from telling you that his upcoming FIFTY GRAND is his most challenging, ambitious novel yet? No. And even if I should, I won’t. What’s the point in having a blog about books and writing if you can’t tell the world about great books and great writers?
  Mind you, with McKinty, it’s fairly common knowledge that he’s the good stuff. His newest fan is Peter Rozovsky over at Detectives Beyond Borders, who offers this pithy summation of DEAD I WELL MAY BE: “Michael’s grim, sometimes hellish journey through the last two thirds of the book may evoke for the literary-minded any number of the world’s great epics. Think of the book as Dirty Harry meets Dante if you must.”
  ‘Dirty Harry meets Dante’. Beautiful. We said Parker written by Cormac McCarthy, but what do we know?
  Finally, it’s a swift jaunt to Scotland for our latest Tony Black extravaganza. Tony doesn’t fit into the mould here, because we haven’t read his debut PAYING FOR IT yet, although it’s due a perusal in the next week or so. On the other hand, Tony Black seems to be a sound bloke who was unusually generous with his time and effort when I was trying to get some web oxygen for THE BIG O. And it’d be disgracefully churlish not to return the favour, to wit:
“Assuming (and hoping) that this is the first of many featuring the tortured Gus Dury, we’ve NEVER seen a series character so richly and honestly drawn from the get-go. The emotional punches connect solidly … as the pains of being a father and the pains of being a son are laid bare. The debut of the year.” – Thug Lit

“Tony Black’s first novel hits the ground running, combining a sympathetic ear for the surreal dialogue of the dispossessed with a portrait of a city painted in the blackest of humour.” – Cathi Unsworth, The Observer
  Nice. The vid below, you won’t be surprised to learn, is Tony Black’s book-trailer for PAYING FOR IT, and it’s a rather attractive example of said form. If the book was written with the same quality of care, craft and love that went into the promo, we’re very probably going to love it. Roll it there, Collette …