Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No Man Left Behind: O Rigby, Where Art Thou?

I was rummaging around in the back of the drawer the other night when I came across the old EIGHTBALL BOOGIE reviews I’d clipped out and kept. EIGHTBALL was my first serious attempt at a novel, a PI story set in Sligo in the northwest of Ireland featuring the ‘research consultant’ Harry Rigby. I thought the concept was hilarious, and I’d already written a goodly chunk of the second draft before my flatmate came home one day with a copy of THE GUARDS and said, “Hey, have you heard of this Ken Bruen guy?”
  Buggery.
  Anyhoos, Lilliput published the novel a couple of years later, in 2003. I was pretty green at the time, so when they said, “We’ll take care of the publicity, you don’t worry about it,” I took them at their word. When the reviews started coming in, I reckoned I was maybe onto something, to wit:
“I have seen the future of Irish crime fiction and it’s called Declan Burke.” – Ken Bruen

“Consummately slick … the characters just crazed enough, the plot just about crazy too … Burke drops neither ball nor pace through one of the sharpest, wittiest books I’ve read for ages.” – Sunday Independent

“There’s a lot of smart and snappy dialogue and a reasonably preposterous plot that moves as fast as a speeding bullet. Declan Burke is a definite find.” – Irish Independent

“Burke has balanced tragic and comic by dreaming up the most insensitive smart-ass he could, and letting him loose in a very fast-paced plot. The writing is splendid and gives new meaning to the term razor-sharp fiction.” – Irish Examiner

“Burke writes a staccato prose that ideally suits his purpose, and his narrative booms along as attention grippingly as a Harley Davidson with the silence missing. Downbeat but exhilarating.” – Irish Times

“Rigby resembles the gin-soaked love child of Rosalind Russell and William Powell ... a wild ride worth taking.” – Booklist

“A manic, edgy tone that owes much to Elmore Leonard … could be the start of something big.” – The Sunday Times

“Eight Ball Boogie proves to be that rare commodity, a first novel that reads as if it were penned by a writer in mid-career ... (it) marks the arrival of a new master of suspense on the literary scene.” – Mystery Scene

“Declan Burke has written a wonderful book … fast-paced and filled with wonderful characters through out, a PI story that moves forward like freight train.” – Crime Spree Magazine

“It was a vintage year, too, for new Irish talent. Watch out for EIGHTBALL BOOGIE by Declan Burke, a pacy, picaresque thriller.” – ‘Books of the Year’, Irish Independent, 2003
  EIGHTBALL BOOGIE was also long-listed for the Sunday Independent / Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year in the Crime Fiction section, alongside Ken Bruen, Ingrid Black and Michael Collins, and was subsequently published in Holland and France, but Lilliput declined to publish the follow-up, which was another Rigby story. Only by then I’d ploughed on and written a third in the series.
  Buggery.
  I miss Harry Rigby sometimes. For all his faults and failings, or perhaps because of them, he’s the most autobiographical character I’ve ever written. Maybe some day I’ll get around to visiting him again, see how he’s doing. The last I heard, he’d been gypped by a friend, who set him up as a patsy and then lit out for Crete at the end of THE BIG EMPTY.
  Hey, maybe Rigby’s out in Crete now, looking for his erstwhile buddy. Y’think I could get a (koff) research grant to go see how he’s getting on?
  Finally, here’s Declan Burke circa 2003 (right). That shock of carefully tousled hair, the burgeoning lamb-chop sideburns, the statement of serious intent that is the black polo-neck … Beautiful, eh?