West Cork. November 1920. The Irish War of Independence rages. The body of a young woman is found brutally murdered on a windswept hillside. A scrap board sign covering her mutilated body reads ‘TRATOR’. Traitor. Acting Sergeant Sean O’Keefe of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), a wounded veteran of the Great War, is assigned to investigate the crime, aided by sinister detectives sent from Dublin Castle to ensure he finds the killer, just so long as the killer he finds best serves the purposes of the Crown in Ireland. The IRA has instigated its own investigation into the young woman’s death, assigning young Volunteer Liam Farrell - failed gunman and former law student - to the task of finding a killer it cannot allow to be one of its own. Unknown to each other, an RIC constable and an IRA Volunteer relentlessly pursue the truth behind the savage killing, their investigations taking them from the bullet-pocked lanes and thriving brothels of war-torn Cork city to the rugged, deadly hills of West Cork.Hats off, by the way, to Kevin McCarthy for doing it the hard way. In Ireland, attempting to create a sympathetic character from an RIC Sergeant - who works alongside Black-and-Tans - is a hard sell, even today. But then, Sean O’Keefe is a complex character. A police officer upholding law and order on behalf of the Crown, he’s nonetheless a proud Irishman and Catholic - and that’s before you get into the ramifications of a story in which the Crown and the IRA are after the same killer. It’s a volatile mix, and Kevin McCarthy does it full justice. I’m already looking forward to seeing his next offering …
“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.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
We Need Kevin To Talk About Kevin
If you’re in Dublin tomorrow, May 26th, you could a lot worse than toddle along to the launch of Kevin McCarthy’s PEELER, which takes place at the Gutter Bookshop in Temple Bar with festivities kicking off at 6.30pm. For what it’s worth, I’ve read the novel, and I think it’s a terrific debut. Meanwhile, the blurb elves have been wittering thusly: