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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

And Quiet Flows The Dan

Published in 1994, as Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’ were winding down, and the Celtic Tiger was cranking up, DIVORCING JACK is one of the seminal tracts in the evolution of the modern Irish crime novel. Comfortable in its skin as it embraced and subverted the tropes and conventions of the classic crime novels, the novel was also assured enough to poke fun at some of Ireland’s then sacred cows.
  Its ‘hero’, the self-serving journalist Dan Starkey, featured in a number of Colin Bateman’s subsequent novels, but Dan has been curiously quiet of late. Happily, NINE INCHES, which will be published in September, sees Dan’s return, with the blurb elves wittering thusly:
Dan Starkey, the ducking and diving hapless investigator, takes centre stage again in this brilliant new novel by the master of comic crime. Radio shock-jock and self-styled people’s champion Jack Caramac is used to courting controversy - but when his four-year-old son is kidnapped for just one hour, and then sent back with a warning note, he knows he may have finally gone too far. Jack has no choice but to turn to Dan Starkey for help. Recently chucked by his long-suffering wife Patricia, Dan has finally given up on journalism and is now providing a boutique, bespoke service for important people with difficult problems. Dan resolves to catch whoever kidnapped Jack’s son - and very soon finds himself in the middle of a violent feud between rival drug gangs, pursued by jealous husbands, unscrupulous property developers and vicious killers as the case spirals ever more out of his control ...
  The Big Question: where has Dan Starkey been all these years? Is it possible the ‘ducking and diving hapless investigator’ has been lying low, perhaps even hiding in plain sight, as a nameless ducking and diving hapless investigator who runs a crime fiction bookstore in Belfast? The answer to this, and many other questions, will not be revealed when NINE INCHES finally arrives.
  As for that title, could it possibly refer to the cranial dimensions of big-brain, clever-clogs Starkey? Or does it refer to a less cerebral measurement? Only time, that perfidiously twittering canary, will tell …