“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.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Peck Of Pykled Pepper

Andrew Pepper isn’t Irish, nor does he set his novels in Ireland, but he does live in Belfast, and he’s a nice bloke, which is more than enough to qualify him for inclusion on these pages. The latest in his series of Pyke novels (which are set in historical London, and feature the Bow Street Runners, et al) is THE DETECTIVE BRANCH, which will be appearing on bookshelves near you next February. Quoth the blurb elves:
A robbery at a pawnbroker’s. Three people murdered. A headache for the new head of the Detective Branch ... Now part of the Metropolitan Police’s Detective Branch, Pyke must find the culprit and quickly, especially as the identity of one of the victims threatens to expose his own criminal past. A valuable religious artefact appears to have motivated the robbery but when the main suspect commits suicide in police custody, the investigation falters. A few months later, the rector of a wealthy parish is brutally murdered and the manhunt that follows seems to implicate an former prisoner, now looking for redemption. But Pyke’s suspicions take him in another direction and lead him to a dissolute former Catholic priest and rumours of Devil worshipping. And when a City Alderman dies in suspicious circumstances, the trail of blood leads first to a charismatic mesmerist and an alluring painter and then to the murders of two boys five years earlier. With time running out and the murderer threatening to kill again, Pyke must face up to forces within the police and the church who would rather the secrets of the past remained buried forever.
  So there you have it: an ambiguous noir anti-hero, a goodly chunk of history, some devil-worshipping priests and more murders than you could shake a thurible at. What’s not to like?

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