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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

To Thrill Or Not To Thrill, That Is The Question

I’m never sure as to whether I should include Christy Kenneally in these pages, because although he’s Irish, certainly, and his novels have the epic sweep expected of a thriller these days, I don’t actually know if Kenneally writes them as thrillers. It would help to clarify matters, of course, if I were to read one of his novels - his previous offering, TEARS OF GOD, tempted me for a very long time - and I think I’m going to start with his latest offering, THE BETRAYED. Quoth the blurb elves:
It’s 1940 and Europe is shadowed by war. But in a small village in Austria, Karl, Elsa and Max, three friends on the brink of adulthood enjoy the fading light of innocence. Until one day, the peaceful village is torn apart by the disappearance of Elsa ... her death sealing the fate of Karl and Max forever. Days after her disappearance, Karl is conscripted to the German army. Fighting for his life in the deathly cold of the Russian winter during Operation Barbarossa by day, by night, his dreams are of Elsa. Max has fled to safety to live with his uncle, the Monsignor, in the Archbishop’s Palace in Zagreb. There, he becomes embroiled in a genocide, where knowledge is the ultimate weapon and power, the ultimate prize. As the years pass, Max and Karl fight a war that can never be won. Karl, now a Captain in the German army, is haunted by the faces of the men left behind on the battlefields of Russia and the disappearance of Elsa. Max, a priest in Rome, is consumed by power and greed, and a shameful secret he is determined to bury. For Max, only one man has the power to destroy him. Because only Karl knows the truth behind Elsa’s disappearance. From the mountains of Austria, to the suburbs of Moscow, the cities of Vienna, Zagreb and Rome, THE BETRAYED is an epic story of love, loss, heroism and the power of destiny.
  So there you have it. Not exactly a conventional Irish thriller, which is all the more reason to embrace it and - hopefully - expand the parameters of what is and isn’t considered an Irish crime novel. If there’s one thing I love in a writer, be it in terms of story, language or vision, it’s ambition. And from the sounds of things, Christy Kenneally has ambition to burn. The novel is officially published on July 7th, by the way; I’ll keep you posted …