With its chorus of ghosts, its gore, and its endless complications, THE TWELVE is basically a revenge tragedy in the Elizabethan mode, scripted by Quentin Tarantino and produced by the makers of The Bourne Identity. The hero in a revenge tragedy, of course, is also a monster, and Neville’s hero is possessed of virtues that are almost entirely negative, his motives and decisions thoroughly dubious …For the rest, clickety-click here …
The novel is by no means perfect – there is perhaps a funeral too many, and too much hopping in and out of cars, too many mobile phone tip-offs, a sequel-indicating ending. But it possesses a profound and wider significance. There has, in recent years, been an upsurge of powerful crime and thriller writing set in – or by authors based in – Northern Ireland. One thinks most readily of Brian McGilloway and Eoin McNamee. These are novelists and novels possessed not only of a singularity of voice but also of a subject, and a velocity.
It may simply be that there is a feeling that in Northern Ireland those who have triumphed, those who now have power, are nothing but despoilers who deserve to be humiliated and tormented. Or it may be that there is a generation of writers uniquely, tragically equipped to be able to think through complex issues of justice and mercy. Whichever: we are witnessing a clearing out of foul, Stygian stables. In Hamlet – the revenge tragedian’s revenge tragedy – the Ghost is “Doomed for a certain time to walk the night/ And for the day confined to fast in fires,/ Till the foul crimes done in days of nature/ Are burnt and purged away”. THE TWELVE is an important part of the purging. – Ian Sansom
“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. “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.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Now That’s What I Call A Review: Ian Sansom on Stuart Neville’s THE TWELVE
Ian Sansom reviewed THE TWELVE for the Irish Times last weekend, and gave it a right good big-up, with the gist running thusly: