“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.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Curious Case Of Wilkie Collins And The Dry Old Tart

Interviewing writers can be a bit of a tricky business these days. No longer is it good enough, apparently, to take five minutes beforehand to strategically dog-ear a few corners in their latest tome and then plonk it down on the table and ask them earnestly where they get all their wonderful ideas. These days, for some odd reason, writers expect you to have read at least one of their books before the interview commences, and preferably the current one. Strange, I know, but there it is.
  Anyway, I’m reading the latest Mystery Man offering from The Artist Formerly Known as Colin Bateman, aka THE PRISONER OF BRENDA (Headline, published October 25th), and very funny it is too, studded with some very nice digressions on the nature of crime fiction and not a few opinions on the quality of the books Mystery Man stocks in his crime fiction bookshop. To wit:
“He probably didn’t know that Sergeant Cuff was one of the first and greatest of fictional detectives, appearing in 1868 in Wilkie Collins’s THE MOONSTONE - a book, incidentally, hailed by Dorothy L. Sayers as probably the very finest detective story ever written. Dorothy was no slouch herself, if a bit of a dry old tart.” (pg 62)
  A pithy appraisal, I’m sure you’ll agree. And there’s plenty more where that came from, although fans of the Scandinavian crime novel may want to gird their metaphorical loins before cracking the spine …

2 comments:

michael said...

This is the very reason why Irish crime fiction will never reach the heights of Scandinavian crime genre. You can't group all Irish writers together in a description of a sentence. Bateman, French, etc need to get on the same page.

Why even that guy Declan Burke can't write the same book twice!

No wonder the masses think of Irish writers as writers and not some safe predictable group.

Declan Burke said...

Michael - I hear your pain, sir. But it'll get worse before it gets better. I hear that Declan Burke bloke is writing a nine-book epic cycle based on The Tain next, only it's set in Mongolia - or on Mars - featuring characters with only left arms. A more conservative approach than normal, yes, but still not quite commercial, I feel.

Cheers, Dec