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.This review was first published in the Sunday Independent
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.
“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.
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.