Irish author Declan Burke is regularly compared to Elmore Leonard and Donald Westlake, even though THE BIG O is only his second novel. Anyone that new receiving that kind of praise has earned a skeptical eye, just as Leonard and Westlake have earned their legends. Burke and his cast of losers are up to it …In the interest of transparency and accountability, it should be pointed out that Dana King and Karen King, THE BIG O’s heroine, are not related.
Burke’s voice and writing style are indebted to Elmore Leonard, as are the characters, but Leonard never plotted so intricately. That’s where the Westlake influence comes out, as complicated and interconnected plot lines are kept moving with humour and improbability that never quite becomes implausible …
I came to THE BIG O with high expectations and had them exceeded …THE BIG O is big fun. It’s just as well Harcourt couldn’t get it out in time for beach season; too many people would be staring, wondering what the hell you were laughing at. – Dana King
As for the interview, well, that’s just me waffling on about THE BIG O and generally mumbling about how rubbish I am at the actual scribbling part of writing. Which is all too painfully true. Days like these are fantastic, no doubt, but the downside is the creeping certainty that each one brings a little closer the day when some yapping Toto will tug back the curtain to my brain and reveal a little man furiously yanking on various levers in a desperate attempt to convince me that I am, in fact, capable of writing.
Because here’s the cold truth: flattered as I am to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Elmore Leonard and Donald Westlake, no one is more acutely aware than I of how far I fall short of their standard. If – and it’s a huge ‘if’ – I ever get to the point where I have 10 novels under my belt that are even half as good as Leonard’s or Westlake’s, then I’ll be a very happy man indeed. But that day, in the unlikely event of its ever dawning, is a long, long way off.
I’m under no illusions. I know that the fact that THE BIG O even came to the attention of the good folk at New Mystery Reader, for example, has much more to do with my blogging through Crime Always Pays than the quality of the book itself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing THE BIG O – I’m very proud of it, and I’m overjoyed that people seem to like it. But I know its failings and limitations too. I know my own. If you’re sitting there thinking, ‘Hey, I read that book, and it’s nowhere as good as people are saying’, then believe me, I have many, many days when I sit here and think the exact same thing.
I’m not being modest. I don’t do modest. I’m just being honest.
In the meantime, God bless that little wizard. Long may he furiously yank …