“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.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

An Absolute Masterpiece Of Crime Fiction

I should declare an interest before writing this post, because John Banville (right) was kind enough to write a very generous blurb for my forthcoming tome ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL. So you may want to take my opinion with a Siberian mine-sized pinch of salt. That said, I find his mischief-making contrarianism hilarious. Here’s some excerpts from his recent interview with the LA Times:
A DEATH IN SUMMER finds dour, bumbling pathologist Garret Quirke trying to get to the bottom of the apparent suicide of a Dublin newspaper owner. Banville tells readers, only partly in jest, to expect an “absolute masterpiece of crime fiction.”
  And, later:
“My books are better than anybody else’s. They are just not good enough for me,” he said.
  And here he is on bog-standard crime fiction:
Banville said he is turned off by graphic depictions of violence both in crime novels and in Hollywood movies. He derides the hugely popular Stieg Larsson novels as crude stories “written with the blunt end of a burned stick.”
  Mind you, for a man who gets regularly pummelled by crime fic fans for his snotty attitude to his mystery writing, which he writes under the open pseudonym of Benjamin Black, Banville appears to be working a two-way street:
“Black was able to help Banville,” he said over breakfast at the Knickerbocker Club on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, explaining that the Banville novel he just completed, ANCIENT LIGHT, was improved by his crime fiction. “Black has got used to doing plots and keeping all that balanced, and Banville has learned some of that from him,” he said.
  For the full interview, clickety-click here
  Meanwhile, Benjamin Black is spreading like a virus throughout the US. I mentioned last week that Janet Maslin was full of praise for A DEATH IN SUMMER in the New York Times, but the raves are piling up elsewhere. To wit:
The Daily Beast on ‘The New Master of Noir’;
A review from the LA Times: ‘a beach read for the brainy’;
The Chicago Tribune: ‘some of the most beautiful sentences this side of heaven's rewrite desk’;
Irish Central: ‘utterly delightful’;
  On the other side of the pond, the UK reviewers are also queuing up to lavish their encomiums:
Mark Lawson in The Guardian on ‘a fascinating addition to the ranks of the defective detective’;
Barry Forshaw in The Independent: ‘a highly professional and engaging piece of work’;
  So there you have it. Benny Blanco, on a roll. Hark, do I hear the sound of axes grinding?

1 comment:

Michael Malone said...

"my books are better than anybody else's" - just a teeny bit arrogant? That'll get a reaction.