I was upstairs with a girl I shouldn’t have been upstairs with when my wife whispered in my ear, ‘You have twenty-four hours to move out.’ The book that started it all, Bateman’s first novel published in 1995. It introduced the world to the hapless, endlessly wily and witty Belfast journalist Dan Starkey. Dan shares with his wife an appetite for drinking and dancing. But when he meets Margaret, things get seriously out of hand. Terrifyingly, unbelievably, she is murdered. Before long Dan is a target himself, racing against time to crack the mystery.I’ll always have a very soft spot for DIVORCING JACK, because it was the book that allowed me believe that I might be able to make a stab at crime writing. Not for the usual reason - ‘Jayz, that’s crap, I can do better than that.’ No, it was the winning blend of hard-boiled prose and humour, a Chandleresque take on the Troubles, catnip to a wannabe writer for whom Chandler was where it started and ended (although now I know that Bateman was more influenced by Robert B Parker). A brave book too, given that the mid-’90s was a particularly fraught time in Northern Ireland, and DIVORCING JACK takes no prisoners as it paints all sides with the stupid brush. Anyway, I’m delighted to see it back in print, not least because it’s all the excuse I need to give it yet another read. I believe the phrase is ‘unalloyed joy’ …
“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. “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.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Make Mine A Nun With A Gun
As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, The Artist Formerly Known as Colin Bateman published NINE INCHES this month, and terrific it is too: very, very funny, but very dark too. A tough combination to pull off, but then Bateman has been doing so ever since very first Dan Starkey novel, DIVORCING JACK. The good news for those who haven’t had the pleasure is that DIVORCING JACK is back in print, with a spanking new cover, and an irresistible subtitle: ‘Vodka, Violence and a Nun With a Gun’. Anyone interested in this beast we call the new wave of Irish crime writing, or ‘Emerald Noir’, need look no further for its seminal text. Quoth the blurb elves: