“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “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. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: FIFTY GRAND by Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty’s FIFTY GRAND is officially on sale today, and if that’s not enough to send you into dizzy paroxysms of delight, then it suggests you haven’t encountered Adrian McKinty’s unique stylings before. It also means you’re in for a rare treat when you do read FIFTY GRAND, because it’s a terrific novel from a writer who isn’t just a superb wordsmith, he’s a man with important things to say about this world of ours. Trust me on this: FIFTY GRAND is already one of the Top Five Crime Novels of 2009. Peace, out.
Taking its title from a Hemingway short story, Adrian McKinty’s FIFTY GRAND opens in Cuba before moving on, via Mexico, to Colorado, as a Cuban cop, Hernandez, goes illegally undercover in the US to investigate her father’s death. The Hemingway homage is a brave one, inviting ridicule and accusations of hubris, but McKinty has long been purveying a blend of muscular lyricism in which collide the brutalities of the crime novel and a knowing, self-effacing literary style.
  His sixth novel for adults (he also writes the ‘Lighthouse’ series for children), FIFTY GRAND offers a challenging conceit, which is to put the tough, spare rhythms associated with classic hard-boiled novels (think Hemingway himself, James Ellroy, James Cain) into the mind of a first-person female protagonist. The result is an incendiary, adrenalin-fuelled thriller, but one that also functions as a blackly hilarious social satire of the skewed values of pre-Obama America, as Hernandez, in the role of exploited illegal immigrant, infiltrates the glitzy world of Colorado’s ski-resort set, cleaning up the mess left behind by Hollywood‘s jet-set.
  Most successful of all, however, is McKinty’s ability to slip inside Hernandez’s skin. The undercover Hernandez is thrown back on her own resources as she investigates her father’s death and brings those responsible to a very particular kind of justice, without recourse to conventional resources. As vulnerable as she is tough, as scared as she is determined, as fragile as she is lethal, she makes for a highly unusual, creepily authentic and utterly compelling anti-heroine.
  This review was first published in the Sunday Independent

11 comments:

bookwitch said...

Hernandez?

Mine's called Mercado, when she doesn't call herself Maria.

Story sounds the same. Which is good, because it is good. Very, very good.

I just knew I shouldn't have got out of bed this morning.

Corey Wilde said...

Terrific book, Mercado and her world in Havana are fascinating. McKinty is uncommonly gifted.

Stuart Neville said...

I'll be ordering this one soon, I think.

seanag said...

Perhaps Hernandez was in an earlier draft?

In any case, an excellent and on target review, Declan. I always like to see reviews that get to the 'more than just a thriller' aspects of Adrian's books.

And isn't it nice to see the book finally show up as "In Stock"?

bookwitch said...

I checked with Adrian this morning, and he says I'm right and Declan is confused...

Gerard Brennan said...

I think Mercado's fragility was probably the greatest characteristic in the novel. She was so aware of her limits and didn't shy away from her fear. Brilliant protagonist.

gb

Peter Rozovsky said...

Not to mention that she sees more of the world than most protagonists do. And yep, McKinty's lyricism is muscular, all right. It could kick most other lyricisms' rear ends.
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
“Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

John McFetridge said...

Declan is confused about a lot of things, but he's absoluely right about McKinty creating a, "creepily authentic and utterly compelling anti-heroine."

Fifty Grand is a great book.

seanag said...

What I find fascinating is that Mercado could be described in terms of her fragility but also as a creepily authentic anti-heroine. Both seem true to me, which is a testament to Adrian's ability to build up a character.

I think at first I did question the description of her as fragile. She is, after all, a cop, and pretty tough in her own normal sphere too. One thing that makes the character interesting is that, though, as she herself admits, she could have come into the U.S. as a seeker of asylum and been welcomed with open arms, for the sake of her 'mission' she comes into one of the wealthiest, most powerful communities in the U.S. as one of the poorest of the poor--a woman without documentation from a smaller, poorer foreign country. So the fragility is in one sense put on, and in another completely real. It's a wonderful fusion.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Perhaps she's more vulnerable than fragile.

adrian mckinty said...

Mr Burke

I sure do appreciate the shout out. Thats about six or seven rounds I owe you now.