“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.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sugar And Spice And All Things Nice …

… that’s what little girls are made of. Brian McGilloway’s LITTLE GIRL LOST, on the other hand, appears to be made of rather sterner stuff. Quoth the blurb elves:
During a winter blizzard a small girl is found wandering half-naked at the edge of an ancient woodland. Her hands are covered in blood, but it is not her own. Unwilling or unable to speak, the only person she seems to trust is the young officer who rescued her, Detective Sergeant Lucy Vaughan. DS Vaughan is baffled to find herself suddenly transferred from a high-profile case involving the kidnapping of a prominent businessman’s teenage daughter, to the newly formed Public Protection Unit. Meanwhile, she has her own problems: caring for her Alzheimer’s-stricken father, and avoiding conflict with her surly Assistant Chief Constable – who also happens to be her mother. As she struggles to identify the unclaimed child, Lucy begins to realise that this case and the kidnapping may be linked – by events that occurred during the blackest days of the country’s recent history, events that also defined her own girlhood. LITTLE GIRL LOST is a devastating page-turner about corruption, greed and vengeance, and a father’s love for his daughter.
  Fans of McGilloway’s Inspector Devlin may be disappointed to learn that LITTLE GIRL LOST is not the latest in that particular series, but is instead a standalone novel (or very possibly the first in an entirely new series). For what it’s worth, I’m always intrigued when a writer decides to stretch him or herself by stepping out of their comfort zone. The Devlin series is a critically acclaimed one, and has nabbed a number of short-list nominations for McGilloway, so I’m sure it would have been the easiest thing in the world for him to stick with the tried and tested, especially as he’s still a relatively young writer. Kudos to him, then, for striking out in a new direction; and kudos too to his publisher for embracing the change, particularly as the current climate in mainstream publishing is characterised by caution and conservatism.
  The bottom line, I suppose, is that a good writer is a good writer, regardless of his of her characters, themes or settings. In the past I’ve heard John Connolly declare that the way to build a successful publishing platform is a number of novels that deliver ‘the same again, only different’ - which advice may be slightly tongue-in-cheek, given that Connolly himself is prone to diversions such as THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS and THE GATES (the former, incidentally, will be getting a mass paperback release in the US this year, while the latter gets a sequel, HELL’S BELLS, in May).
  As an occasional author myself, I like to mix it up. EIGHTBALL BOOGIE was / is a first-person private eye novel; THE BIG O was / is a multi-character crime caper; and BAD FOR GOOD (aka THE BABY KILLERS) was / is … well, I’m still not entirely sure what that sucker is, although it does revel in the subtitle ‘A Gonzo Noir’. Meanwhile, I’ve written a sequel to THE BIG O, and I’ve written two more first-person private eye novels, but the idea of getting locked in to one character or type of story is not something that appeals; the story I’m ‘working on’ now is as different to the stories I’ve already written as BAD FOR GOOD was different to THE BIG O. I suppose it comes down to the fact that, as a reader, I like to read widely, in all genres and none; so it’s hardly surprising that when I do turn to writing, that I prefer to write different kinds of stories too.
  The Big Q here, though, is whether Brian McGilloway’s fans will be happy to take the new direction on board when LITTLE GIRL LOST is published in May. If a new Chandler novel, for example, was discovered, would I be delighted or disappointed to learn that it wasn’t a Marlowe novel? The question, I suppose, is whether we read an author for the author or for his characters. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing how McGilloway, a very highly rated writer here at CAP Towers, handles his new material. Roll on May …

8 comments:

michael said...

Doesn't every writer want to be Donald Westlake?

Doesn't every publisher want a Janet Evanovich?

"The same but different" is a wise bit of advice if you want a best seller but not a great help for your creative side.

The young writer should explore and push the edge of his or her talents.

Some of the established writer fan's will complain but the writer may attract a completely new fan base.

Hammett explored styles (compare "Red Harvest" to "Tulip"). I always wish Chandler had tried to grow beyond Marlowe.

petronatwo said...

I'm looking forward to this new Brian McGilloway. I think he was back on top form in his previous novel - The Rising - after a bit of a wobble in the one before that (the one about the gold mining and the US senator).

I don't mind if an author of a series switches to standalones or vice versa or writes a mix - just so long as the result is a good book!

(maxine)

Dorte H said...

I am also intrigued, and perhaps Connolly could learn something. I don´t mind long series if the writer is able to vary his plots, but my impression is exactly that Connolly is more of the same which is why I read one occasionally but have never felt an urge to rush out and read them all.

seana said...

McGilloway is in my sites for early this year, after reading his story in the excellent anthology, Requiems for the Departed. I won't mind standalone, but I think what's on the shelves over here right now is probably an Inspector Devlin, which is fine with me too.

petronatwo said...

Do you mean Connelly or Coben, Dorte? I think Connelly's are rather varied in different ways, whereas Coben's, whether series or not, seem written to the same template (slick, but a template nonetheless).

Dorte H said...

Maxine: I did mean Connelly (I have only read one Coben so can´t really compare it). I haven´t read many of Connelly´s, but apart from 9 Dragons they did not stand out for me in any way. It may be because I have read them in Danish, but I have learned to love several English writers by reading Danish translations so...

Arlene said...

Dorte, that's Michael Connolly, not John.

Dorte H said...

Oops. Forget what I said *blushing*