“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.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Like The Descent Of Their Last End, Upon All The Living And The Dead

If it’s autumn, it must be Ingrid Black. CIRCLE OF THE DEAD, the fourth Black novel in five years, and featuring her series heroine Saxon, finds the husband-and-wife writing team in serial killer territory, to wit:
Ex-FBI agent Saxon has dealt with many killers in her time but nothing can prepare her for the night of horror ahead ... It’s early evening on Halloween when the Dublin Murder squad are called out to the home of wealthy businessman Daniel Erskine. There, in his basement, they discover Daniel’s tortured body. Then, just hours later, his friend Oliver Niland also meets a gruesome end. As special adviser to the Dublin Murder squad, Saxon teams up once again with Chief Superintendent Grace Fitzgerald to track down a killer who’s closer than they think. But why has he targeted Daniel and Oliver? And what is the significance of the group known as the Second Circle to which they both belonged? The other members of the group might have the answers – but can Saxon and Fitzgerald get to them before it’s too late?
  Well, here’s hoping they do. Mind you, at a whopping 496 pages in paperback, you’d be inclined to believe that quite a few of the Second Circle are due some form of grisly comeuppance. Meanwhile, I’m wondering why Ingrid Black isn’t a household name. Saxon has that ballsy lesbian thing going on, she’s ex-FBI, and the woman is a more attractive Jessica Fletcher in terms of body-count. Like, what more do you want, people?
  Oh, and courtesy of the “Is It Just Me?” department: Is there any chance that ‘The Dead’ part of the title is a nod to the James Joyce short story of the same name, given that the novel kicks off with the worst snowstorm Dublin has seen in half a century? If anyone out there is in the know, pray tell ...

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