Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “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.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Like Slaughterers To The Lamb

Googling yourself, like an on-line version of eavesdropping at the keyhole, can be a chastening experience, which is why I tend to keep it to the minimum. By the same token, Googling yourself can throw up some interesting snippets, such as Clair Lamb’s recent piece for Books and Authors, titled ‘Where Green Meets Red: The Golden Age of Irish Crime Writing’. Basically, it’s a list of the hottest contemporary Irish crime writers, and great was the excitement when I realised I’d come in third. Then I noticed the first two writers were Colin Bateman and Ken Bruen, and that the list was alphabetical. Oh well. To wit:
3) Declan Burke is a journalist and reviewer who has published two critically-acclaimed crime novels: Eightball Boogie (2004), which introduced Dublin PI Harry Rigby, and The Big O, a caper novel that drew comparisons with Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard. The Big O, in particular, has great fun with the rampant greed and suspended rules of life during the Celtic Tiger years. In addition to writing his own books, Burke maintains a blog that is the single best online source of news about Irish crime fiction.
  The only appropriate response to that is, ‘Gee, shucks.’ For the rest of the Top Ten, clickety-click here
  Meanwhile, during my Google-esque perambulations, I also stumbled across this little chunk-a-love from the University of Minnesota:
Ireland may have a long and distinguished literary heritage, but in one major area, crime fiction, its contribution has been mysteriously lacking ... until recently. This course offers a snapshot of contemporary Irish crime fiction as a form practiced by serious writers, from the hard-boiled to the historical, from psychological thrillers to police procedurals. Discuss the development of Irish crime fiction, particularly the disparate social and cultural influences that have left their stamp on the genre. You will answer questions such as: What is it that makes these crime novels Irish? Is it the setting, the writer’s voice, or the characters? What part has Irish history played in the development of crime fiction, and how does placing a story in Ireland add layers of meaning to the events in each novel? In three monthly sessions structured like a book club, you will read in advance and be ready to discuss: (May 6) The Big O by Declan Burke, a fast-paced comic crime caper, described as “Elmore Leonard with a hard Irish edge”, and The Wrong Kind of Blood by Declan Hughes, about a private eye who comes back to Ireland to bury his mother; (May 27) The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville, in which an IRA assassin lives with the ghosts of all 12 people he’s murdered, and Borderlands by Brian McGilloway, a police procedural set in the border lands between Northern Ireland and the Republic; and (June 3) My Lady Judge by Cora Harrison, a historical mystery.
  Thank you kindly, U of M. This is very probably the only time in my life (adjusts monocle) that I’ll be described as a ‘serious writer’ …