“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.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: THE BUDAPEST PROTOCOL and THE THIRD PIG DETECTIVE AGENCY

A couple of reviews from opposite ends of the spectrum, folks, the first being a ‘Book of the Day’ review I wrote for the Irish Times and which was published while I was away in Italy. To wit:
IT WILL come as no surprise to some that the European Union is a fiendish Nazi plot, and that the euro is just one of the tools employed by the Fourth Reich to facilitate the flow of capital from one country to another. They may be disappointed to learn that this is the case only between the covers of Adam Lebor’s political thriller.
  THE BUDAPEST PROTOCOL has as its protagonist Alex Farkas, British-Hungarian journalist working for a newspaper in the Hungarian capital. The arrival in Hungary of Frank Sanzlermann, on the campaign trail in the imminent election for the new position of European President, sets in train a number of events, some of them personal to Alex, such as the apparent murder of his grandfather. Other developments are political, including the establishment of a quasi-paramilitary force, an upsurge in nationalist and fascist sentiment, and the growing persecution of the Roma people.
  The political quickly becomes personal for Alex when he discovers his grandfather’s testimony about a protocol established in Budapest in 1944, between the Nazis and German and Swiss bankers and industrialists. Is it possible that the EU is the modern face of Nazism?
  For the rest, clickety-click here
  Meanwhile, and moving from the sublime to the ridiculously sublime, here’s Matt Benyon Rees on Bob ‘no relation’ Burke’s THE THIRD PIG DETECTIVE AGENCY:
Seeing his brothers’ houses blown down by the Big Bad Wolf (“I’ll huff and I’ll puff ...”) taught Harry Pigg to build his own house out of bricks, thus avoiding the grisly fate of the first and second pigs. The nursery rhyme carries a lesson for all little children ... It also forms the somewhat traumatic background that turns Harry into the wise-cracking detective of Bob Burke’s engagingly witty new novel.
  We’re in Grimmtown, where everyone is a character from a fairy tale or a nursery rhyme. But it’s no fairytale wonderland. In fact, it’s rather true to the stories of the Brothers Grimm, whose nightmarish old tales always seem to me distinctly inappropriate for small children (the chipper little Gingerbread Man, for example, gets eaten and that’s the end of that. Whoever thought these would be good stories for kids?) On the mean streets of Grimmtown, hard-up Harry Pigg is hired by Aladdin to track down his stolen magic lantern, though this displeases Aladdin’s thuggish bodyguard, one of the Billygoats Gruff. Dwarfs, leprechauns and genies ensue.
  This is undoubtedly the most whimsical hardboiled detective novel ever written, and it’s utterly delightful.
  And while we’re on the topic of Matt Benyon Rees, and with a hat-tip to Detectives Beyond Borders, Matt is one of a quartet of writers who have just established a new blog, called International Crime Authors Reality Check. Clickety-click here for more

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