“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 9, 2010

The Bryce Is Right

I’ve no idea what the hold-up was, but Alex Barclay’s eagerly awaited fourth novel, TIME OF DEATH, finally arrives this month, with FBI agent Ren Bryce suffering the consequences of an ostensibly successful undercover operation that left one or two loose ends without a frilly bow. To wit:
FBI agent Ren Bryce’s hunt for some of the country’s most dangerous killers is about to turn into a nightmare. There is unfinished business between Ren and those she is pursuing, and soon she is forced to confront both personal and professional traumas. Then someone close to Ren is murdered and secrets from her past look set to be revealed, throwing her into a world of fear, paranoia and danger. Dark forces are at work and someone is determined to destroy Ren’s life. But time is running out and Ren must catch a killer before he catches her …
  TIME OF DEATH hits a shelf near you on July 22nd.
  Meanwhile, I’ve been mulling over for quite some time now (the entire three minutes since the idea occurred to me, to be precise) about how masculine are the current crop of Irish female crime writers. Not the writers themselves, of course - a more radiantly fragrant bunch of roses you’d be hard pressed to find the length and breadth of Christendom. As authors, though, they do tend to have a masculine edge. Alex Barclay’s hard-nosed Ren Bryce could by no stretch of the imagination be described as girly; Arlene Hunt not only writes of a partnership that is half male, but she did away entirely with the female half for her current offering, BLOOD MONEY; Tana French’s latest novel, FAITHFUL PLACE, features an entirely convincing male detective as its protagonist, as did IN THE WOODS; Cora Harrison’s series protagonist Mara is a judge in mediaeval times, an era not renowned for its enlightened attitude towards gender equality; Ava McCarthy’s female lead goes by the name Harry; and to say that Ingrid Black’s protagonists have balls would be anatomically incorrect, but metaphorically on the nail.
  Is it the case - Niamh O’Connor’s female detective being a hard-pressed domestic goddess at home, for example, but a ballsy woman at work - that the ladies are reflecting the fact that, in Ireland today, women have to work twice as hard as men in order to get paid half as much? Or are they simply having fun with gender politics? Or is it that, being the backward soul that I am, any woman not sporting kitten heels and a cleavage in which you could park a moped is immediately classed as unfeminine?
  The comment box is open for business, people …

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