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.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Crime Fiction: The Second Draft Of History # 341

I’ve mentioned before how the Irish Times has been bucking the global trend by increasing its books coverage, with a ‘Book of the Day’ review on the Op-Ed pages supplementing its traditional coverage in Saturday’s Review section. It’s a ballsy move, and they’re not above getting down ‘n’ dirty with the crime fic crew either. Ava McCarthy’s debut THE INSIDER got a rave two weeks ago, and this week it was Gene Kerrigan’s turn, with Kevin Power reviewing DARK TIMES IN THE CITY. To wit:
“Kerrigan, no slouch, is alert to the possibilities of the thriller form. This is a novel that uses a beautifully spun crime narrative to say something interesting about Ireland in the here and now. (It’s strikingly up to date: Kerrigan has, I think, written the first Irish novel that manages to take account of the global financial crisis – doubly impressive when you remember that most Irish writers haven’t even caught up with the boom years yet.)”
  DARK TIMES … is strikingly fresh as a snapshot of Ireland’s crumbling fa├žade, but it’s not the only novel to capture the current mood and tone. Declan Hughes’s ALL THE DEAD VOICES is not only mired in economic failure, it also dared to predict the recent upsurge in murderous dissident Republicanism. Alan Glynn’s forthcoming WINTERLAND is similarly pessimistic about Ireland’s economic future, in a story which quite literally lays bare the shaky foundations of the boom years as politics, business and gangland conspire to hoodwink Dublin’s denizens. And Ken Bruen has been writing about the decline and fall for a couple of years now, as Jack Taylor notes how Galway’s glossy party rep gets duller by the year.
  Being a pompous windbag, I’ve said before that if journalism is the first draft of history, crime fiction is its second. I’m generalising, of course, and as always, but crime fiction does seem to me to be the most relevant kind of writing out there. Is it because writers need to keep up with the always innovative criminals? Does the form itself have an immediacy that lends itself to the now? Is it simply a matter of recycling the classic three-act structure and filling in the gaps with tomorrow’s headlines? Or a more cynical case of today’s taboo being next year’s best-seller?
  Over to you people. Comment is free …