“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.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

On Gene Kerrigan, Agatha Christie And Quantum Mechanics

The latest of the Irish Times’ Crime Beat columns was published yesterday, and led off with a review of THE RAGE by Gene Kerrigan. To wit:
THE RAGE (Harvill Secker, £11.99) is the fourth novel from journalist Gene Kerrigan, a serial chronicler of Dublin’s criminal underworld who was last year shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger, and was the winner of the Irish Book Awards’ crime fiction prize, for his previous offering, DARK TIMES IN THE CITY (2009). THE RAGE essentially blends two stories, that of Detective Sergeant Bob Tidey, who is investigating the apparent suicide of a banker of dubious morality, and that of Vincent Naylor, a low-level criminal recently released from prison with plans to move up in the world. That the men will eventually cross paths is inevitable, although it’s Kerrigan’s quality of gritty realism that renders THE RAGE an enjoyable page-turner as Tidey negotiates the blind alleys of a labyrinth constructed by officious judges, corrupt lawyers, and even his own superiors. Largely recession-proof (“Bob Tidey was in the law and order business, and whatever else went belly-up there’d always be hard men and chancers and a need for someone to manners on them.”), Tidey is an empathic character, pragmatic rather than idealistic, but what makes THE RAGE a compulsive document of post-Celtic Tiger Ireland is Tidey’s growing awareness that the moral anarchy that reigns at all levels of Irish society means that the old rules no longer apply, especially when it comes to enforcing a crude approximation of law and order, by any means necessary.
  Also reviewed are SJ Watson’s BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP, Erin Kelly’s THE POISON TREE, Mary Higgins Clark’s I’LL WALK ALONE, and Keigo Higashino’s THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X, which last I heartily recommend as an erudite, thought-provoking thriller. For the full column, clickety-click here
  Meanwhile, there was some interesting short-list nominations during the week. Mind you, the only real surprise would have been had Tana French’s ubiquitous FAITHFUL PLACE (which has so far been short-listed for an Edgar, an Anthony and a LA Times book award this year) not made the Best Mystery list in the Macavity Awards.
  A less-trumpeted title, on these pages at least, is John Curran’s AGATHA CHRISTIE’S SECRET NOTEBOOKS: FIFTY YEARS OF MYSTERIES IN THE MAKING, a labour of love that contains no less than two unpublished Poirot short stories, and which pops up in the Best Mystery-Related Nonfiction section. Incidentally, the follow-up to SECRET NOTEBOOKS will be published in September under the title AGATHA CHRISTIE’S MURDER IN THE MAKING, all of which may or may not mean that Curran’s doctoral thesis on Christie, undertaken at Trinity College, Dublin, may or may not be on the backburner for now. For the full rundown of Macavity nominees, you know what to do
  Elsewhere, William Ryan beat off some stiff contenders (oo-er, vicar, etc.) to make the Theakston’s Old Peculier shortlist, a feat that’s all the more impressive when you consider that his novel, THE HOLY THIEF, is a debut offering. Another serial nominee, which has already been under consideration for Best Novel awards with the CWA and the Listowel Writer’s Week, THE HOLY THIEF will see its sequel, THE BLOODY MEADOW, published in September. All of which means that William Ryan is very probably feeling rather pleased with himself right now, and deservedly so. For the full list of nominees, via Kiwi Crime, clickety-click here
  Finally, those of you pining for the stentorian tones of the Dark Lord himself, John Connolly, should click on this interview with the Daily Telegraph, in which the HELL’S BELLS author waxes lyrical about hell, bells and why he was entitled to, and duly received, an apology from CERN for the quality of his understanding of quantum mechanics. Proper order, too …

No comments: