“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.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Blume By Any Other Name

I was mightily impressed with Conor Fitzgerald’s debut, THE DOGS OF ROME, when it appeared last year. Domiciled in Rome for the past few decades, Fitzgerald writes about Commissario Alec Blume, an American-born, Rome-based police detective who has the insider’s track on Italian crime and an outsider’s eye for the good, bad and ugly in Italian life. A terrific thriller, THE DOGS OF ROME was notable for the elegance of its language, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to learn that Conor Fitzgerald is a pseudonym for Conor Deane, who is the son of the noted Irish poet, Seamus Deane.
  THE DOGS OF ROME, by the way, was last week shortlisted for a John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger by the Crime Writers’ Association.
  I sat down with Conor Fitzgerald a few weeks ago to interview him for the Sunday Independent, this to mark the publication of the second Alec Blume novel, THE FATAL TOUCH, and a very pleasant couple of hours it proved too. First let me say that, as fine a novel as THE DOGS OF ROME is, THE FATAL TOUCH represents something of a leap forward for Fitzgerald, even if it is only his second offering. My review of it is here, with the gist running thusly:
“Beautifully written, the story proceeds at a stately pace which disguises an exquisitely complex plot, as Blume delicately negotiates the labyrinth that is Roman policing. Fitzgerald has an elegant, spare style that straddles both the literary and crime genres, and the style is perfectly pitched to reflect Blume’s own world-weariness.”
  Marilyn Stasio, writing in the New York Times, liked it too; clickety-click here for more
  Anyway, what was particularly interesting about the interview, for me at least, was Conor Fitzgerald’s comment on how his writing career was influenced by his father, the poet - although not necessarily in the way you might expect. To wit:
“My father’s an extremely clever man, he really is,” says Conor, “but at some stage in his life he decided that the only things that were really interesting were detective novels and football […] In the pre-Amazon days, he used to send me books in the post. With poetry, for example, he’d always say, ‘This guy is very good, but ...’ and he’d make some observation, which could be political, or academic, literary, or simply in bad taste. With the crime novels, he’d just say, ‘This is brilliant’.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

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