“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, September 23, 2012

It Was The Best Of Books, It Was The Worst Of Books …

You learn more from a negative review than a positive one, as they say, and by that reckoning there was much to be learned from John Boland’s review of SLAUGHTER’S HOUND, which was published in the Irish Independent yesterday. It’s not understating the case to say that John wasn’t particularly fond of the book - ‘frequently implausible’, ‘inherently repellent’ and ‘aggressively unpleasant’ are a few of the choicer phrases that sum up the review, while Harry Rigby is ‘as much a thug as most of the lowlifes he encounters’ compared to Raymond Chandler’s noble knight errant, Philip Marlowe. He concludes:
“The result is as bleak a picture of contemporary Ireland as you’ll encounter - though undermined by the reader’s sense that the author has nothing interesting to say about such an Ireland and that it’s all being served up for lurid thrills. On that level, the book is brutally efficient.” John Boland, Irish Independent
  Oh, the humanity, etc. Over in the Sunday Times (no link), Kristoffer Mullin liked SLAUGHTER’S HOUND a little bit more, with the gist running thusly:
“Declan Burke sets the scene for the most perfect noir novel, a screwball caper set in a recognisable Sligo where the rich scurry beneath the shadow of Nama and the drug gangs are run by former dissidents. The real joy in this set-up is that the writer somehow makes the west coast of modern-day Ireland feel like the west coast of 1940s America. The only way Harry Rigby could be more like Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe would be if he rode around in a 1930s Chrysler and called all the women ‘dames’ …
  “Burke recently professed his adoration for Rollerskate Skinny, saying the 1990s indie rockers managed that rare feat of being Irish without necessarily sounding Irish. In the very American realm of hard-boiled crime fiction, Burke has managed the same trick. In fact, on this evidence, few of his peers over the Atlantic can hold a candle to him.” - Kristoffer Mullin, Sunday Times
  So there you have it: two very different takes on the very same book, and I suppose the best thing to do is take them in the spirit of Kipling’s twin imposters. That said, you won’t be even remotely surprised to learn which of the twins is my favourite …

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