“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, March 14, 2009

Watchmen: Who Reviews The Reviewers # 2

I don’t want to get into the habit of reviewing reviews, but Nick Hay’s review of Andrew Pepper’s KILL-DEVIL AND WATER over at Reviewing the Evidence popped out at me. Hay quite liked Pepper’s third novel in the Pike series, finishing up thusly:
“Despite this reservation KILL-DEVIL AND WATER deserves two very hearty cheers. The plot is excellent, the writing good, the historical and political observation both gripping and committed. And it is real value for money; this is a lot of book in terms of weight of plot, detail, and seriousness of purpose.”
  Pepper doesn’t get a third hearty cheer because of Pike himself, whom Hay believes is hamstrung in the context of the book because of his role as a ‘noir anti-hero’. Which is fair enough, and fair comment, but then Hay nutshells things thusly:
“All this makes KILL-DEVIL AND WATER a very male book.”
  Now, I’m not quibbling with Hay’s review in general, because it’s a very good example of a thoughtful, considered critique. But is it really valid to offer an even partially negative take on a book on the basis that it’s ‘male’, or ‘very male’?
  Ladies? I’m particularly interested in your take on this …