“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.

Monday, September 19, 2011

ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL: From Zero To Hero

The Sunday Times’ Culture section did me up a kipper over the weekend, giving over two-thirds of a page to a review of ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL by Kristoffer Mullin, and plugging said review on the Contents page with the line, ‘Declan Burke’s genre-busting thriller about blowing up a hospital is a blast.’
  I’d have been happy enough with that much as a review, to be perfectly honest, not least because the Sunday Times tends to parsimonious with ye olde compliments - it’s fair to say, while drawing a discreet veil over the gory details, that they were less than impressed with DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS.
  It’s also fair to say that Kristoffer Mullin liked AZC. Under the headline, ‘Raising the Stakes’, the gist runs thusly:
“Burke’s peers have showered him with plaudits, describing ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL as a wildly inventive take on noir fiction, and comparing its creator to Flann O’Brien, Raymond Chandler, John Fowles and Paul Auster. It’s hard to disagree, though another name should be thrown in there: Bret Easton Ellis, with his skewed perspectives, acid humour and pop-culture references.
  “Karlsson is a thrilling creation, up there with the Patrick Batemans of literature. Misanthropic and bitterly cynical, the hospital porter is also philosophical and occasionally inspired. The twisted logic that leads to him plotting to blow up the hospital is a masterpiece of unsavoury reflection on history and Darwinism blended with a hefty dose of sociopathy, yet always leavened with pitch-black wit.
  “That humour is a constant throughout the novel […]
  “Yet for all the literary devices and sharp humour, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL would be little more than a clever diversion if it did not also succeed as a thriller. Burke ratchets up the tension beautifully towards the climax, its inevitability foreshadowed by an opening scene that becomes all the more disturbing in retrospect as the novel progresses.
  To borrow from [Ken] Bruen’s blurb, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is unlike anything else you’ll read this year: funny and disturbing, it also straddles a fine line between the absurd and the profound. It never forgets the conventions of crime fiction, while simultaneously subverting them. A triumph.” - Kristoffer Mullin, Sunday Times
  Funnily enough, and vis-à-vis the Bret Easton Ellis reference, the title ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is in part a nod towards LESS THAN ZERO, which is a very fine novel and a terrific title.
  Anyway, there you have it. We’re kind of running out of print media review outlets here in Ireland, given that the Irish Times has had its say, and the Irish Independent, and the Sunday Business Post, so I guess that that’s probably the last review of its kind. Still, if that does happen to be the case, it’s a very, very nice way to go out. I thank you kindly, one and all …

6 comments:

@frankamcgrath said...

Great to see someone who "gets it"...

Arlene said...

Terrific Declan, what did I tell you? Funny and inventive straight out the gate and I'm delighted it's getting the press it deserves. Well done.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Exelllent, and I'm glad someone got a BEE vibe. I also did. So happy for you!

lil Gluckstern said...

Well deserved review for such a wonderful ride through a myriad of feelings. Enjoy this, and I, too, am happy for for you.

Declan Burke said...

Many thanks, folks. As always, the good word is very much appreciated ...

Cheers, Dec

LP OBryan said...

Wonderful review. I was tempted to cut it out it was so good! A rare and special event and well deserved.