“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.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Can We Fit Just One More E Into PEELER?

It’s going to be a lot tougher to keep up with Irish crime fiction now that writers are bypassing the traditional structures and going directly to the e-market - see Alexander O’Hara here, and Ruby Barnes here. And that’s on top of the writers who are conventionally published but are also availing of the e-option, such as Kevin McCarthy, whose debut novel PEELER is now available in electronic form.
  Here’s a quick review of PEELER I contributed to January Magazine’s end-of-year round-up of the best books of 2010. To wit:
PEELER by Kevin McCarthy

Eoin McNamee, Benjamin Black and Cora Harrison are among those who write historical Irish crime fiction, and Kevin McCarthy’s PEELER (Mercier Press) deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. Set in Cork in 1920, during the Irish War of Independence, the novel has for its main protagonist Acting Sergeant Sean O’Keefe, a man who is not only a policeman with the hated Royal Irish Constabulary, but also a veteran of the Great War. McCarthy has made things doubly difficult for himself by choosing such a man for his hero, as Ireland’s relationship remains conflicted even today with the men who served in the RIC and fought for Britain during WWI. It’s a testament to his skill as a storyteller, then, that the complex O’Keefe - who considers himself as Irish as the next man, and is considered suspect by his superiors for that very reason - is such a sympathetic character as, aided and abetted by the despised Black-and-Tans, he pursues a killer who is also wanted by the IRA. McCarthy’s historical detail is excellent as he weaves a backdrop of black ops and blacker propaganda, with O’Keefe often a lone voice of reason and law-and-order while about him move squads of killers, both rebel and state-sanctioned. The pace and tension are expertly handled in what is a traditional page-turner of a thriller, yet McCarthy invests the novel with occasional poetic flourishes that highlight the bleak environment in which O’Keefe operates. All told, it’s a remarkably assured debut. - Declan Burke
  Don’t take my word for it, though - check out the rather impressive array of readers’ reviews PEELER has already generated at Amazon US, and here at Amazon UK

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