“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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Bonfire Of The Inanities

As I’ve said before on these pages, I’m not really exercised by book covers, but every now and again one comes along that catches the eye. The UK cover of THE BURNING SOUL - to be published on both sides of the pond on September 1st - comes courtesy of its author, John Connolly, and is definitely one such eye-catcher: at first glance, it put me in mind of both ‘The Children of the Corn’ and ‘The Wicker Man’. Meanwhile, the blurb elves are wittering thusly:
Randall Haight has a secret: when he was a teenager, he and his friend killed a 14-year-old girl. Randall did his time and built a new life in the small Maine town of Pastor’s Bay, but somebody has discovered the truth about Randall. He is being tormented by anonymous messages, haunting reminders of his past crime, and he wants private detective Charlie Parker to make it stop. But another 14-year-old girl has gone missing, this time from Pastor’s Bay, and the missing girl’s family has its own secrets to protect. Now Parker must unravel a web of deceit involving the police, the FBI, a doomed mobster named Tommy Morris, and Randall Haight himself. Because Randall Haight is telling lies …
  Sounds like a cracker. Suddenly September seems a long, long way away …
  Meanwhile, given my well-deserved reputation for reading way too much into far too little, it’s incumbent upon me to posit a theory about THE BURNING SOUL as a metaphor for Ireland’s economic collapse. If we say that Randall Haight represents the banks and their dirty secrets, for example, and the murdered 14-year-old girl the innocent Irish tax-payer, then perhaps our hero Charlie Parker is entering the financial labyrinth (aka the ‘web of deceit’) on our behalf to face down the demons, ultimately to emerge, bloodied but unbowed, to advise the government that the only way to deal with €100 billion debt placed on Ireland’s already buckling shoulders is to burn the soul-sucking bondholders to the floor, aka, the bonfire of the inanities.
  Too much? Erm, yes. But again, at the risk of reading too much into such things, it’s interesting to take a look at the titles of recent and forthcoming Irish crime titles in the context of all that has happened here over the last 12 months or so. To wit: THE BURNING SOUL (John Connolly); THE BURNING (Jane Casey); THE RAGE (Gene Kerrigan); THE FATAL TOUCH (Conor Fitzgerald); FALLING GLASS (Adrian McKinty); PLUGGED (Eoin Colfer); TAKEN (Niamh O’Connor); BLOODLAND (Alan Glynn); STOLEN SOULS (Stuart Neville); BROKEN HARBOUR (Tana French); LITTLE GIRL LOST (Brian McGilloway).
  Now, not all of those novels are even set in Ireland, and to the best of my knowledge, none of them explicitly deal with how Irish people are being punished for the sins of profligate European bankers. Still, there’s a lot of broken, bloody, lost, burning, angry souls in there …