“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.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When In Rome, Devise A Conspiracy

It’s becoming a job in itself keeping up with the debut Irish crime writers this year. The latest to come to my attention is THE CARAVAGGIO CONSPIRACY (Lilliput Press) by Walter Ellis, with the blurb elves wittering thusly:
Caravaggio was the greatest artist since Titian, a favourite of popes and wealthy bankers. But at a time when the resurgent Ottoman Empire was planning a second wave of conquest, he discovered a secret so dark that it threatened the very existence of the Catholic Church.
  The secret endures. Four hundred years later, Declan O’Malley, the first Irish-born Superior General of the Society of Jesus, learns that his friend, the German Cardinal Horst Rüttgers, has died in mysterious circumstances. With his nephew Liam Dempsey, recovering from wounds received while serving as a soldier with the United Nations, he tries to uncover the truth, bringing him into conflict with the sinister and virulently anti-Muslim Cardinal Bosani – Camerlengo, or High Chamberlain, of the Holy Roman Church – in charge of the upcoming Conclave to elect a new Pope.
  As the two prelates grapple, Dempsey finds a bizarre link between Bosani and Caravaggio’s masterpiece, ‘The Betrayal of Christ’, lost for 200 years until it emerged in 1999 in the unlikely setting of the Jesuit house in Dublin. The painting turns out to be more than a sublime depiction of Christ’s seizure in the Garden of Gethsemane; it is also the key to a centuries-old conspiracy of evil. Can O’Malley and Dempsey, aided by the cool and resourceful Maya Studer, daughter of the Commandant of the Swiss Guard, prevent Bosani from re-igniting a calamitous war between Europe and the Muslim World?
  Shades of Dan Brown there, of course, although the Sunday Times appears to like it:
“A sophisticated intrigue with a taut, measured style ... an impressive debut.” - Alan Murdoch, The Sunday Times
  THE CARAVAGGIO CONSPIRACY is Ellis’s first thriller, but it’s by no means his first book. To wit:
Walter Ellis is a journalist who worked as a feature writer and foreign correspondent for The Irish Times, Financial Times, Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times. He is the author of two non-fiction books, THE OXBRIDGE CONSPIRACY, about elitism in British higher education, and THE BEGINNING OF THE END, a memoir of growing up in Belfast as best friend to the man who would become the INLA’s most ruthless assassin. Both books were widely reviewed and serialized. Born in Belfast, Ellis now lives in New York.

No comments: