“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.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

BOOKS TO DIE FOR: The Washington Post Verdict

I’ve mentioned before how busy it is at CAP Towers these days, but really, that’s no excuse for my not mentioning the lengthy review BOOKS TO DIE FOR received from Michael Dirda in the Washington Post a couple of weeks ago. The gist runs thusly:
“There are 119 contributors here, from 20 countries, and the general standard of the essays is high, most of them arguing for the depth and sophistication, the literary quality, of their chosen book or author … In short, BOOKS TO DIE FOR is, even given its biases, as good a collection of short essays on crime fiction as one is likely to find.” - Michael Dirda, Washington Post
  As you can imagine, we were, and remain, very pleased with that. Of course, as with virtually every other reader of BOOKS TO DIE FOR, Michael has his quibbles with some of the contributions, and even more quibbles with some of the classic crime / mystery novels that didn’t make it into the book. For the full review, clickety-click here
  This coming Friday, November 16th, I’ll be hosting a conversation with some of the contributors to BOOKS TO DIE FOR as part of the Red Line Book Festival in Tallaght. Co-editor John Connolly, Mark Billingham, Niamh O’Connor and Declan Hughes will be discussing their favourite crime / mystery novels of all time, and chatting about the elements that make up the great crime / mystery stories.
  The Red Line Festival bods have been kind enough to issue yours truly with five pairs of tickets for the event, and to be in with a chance of winning a pair, just answer the following question:
Of all the great crime / mystery novels ever written, which one do you love the most?
  Answers via the comment box below, please, leaving a contact email address (using [at] rather than @ to confuse the spam monkeys) by noon on Wednesday, November 14th. Et bon chance, mes amis

5 comments:

Fiona said...

Oooh, what a great question, Declan.

I'd say "The Caves of Steel" by Isaac Asimov. It made a sharp impact on me as a teen, dealing as it does with prejudice and privilege and the nature of crime. Actually, I must dig it out again and re-read it. Thanks!

darraghjames said...

The Big Nowhere.
Will provide an explanation if needed!
darraghmcmanus [at] yahoo [dot] com

Declan Burke said...

That's one I've never come across, Fiona. Must dig it out.

Darragh? No need for an explanation on The Big Nowhere. A terrific novel.

Cheers, Dec

Richard L. Pangburn said...

Not a candidate for tickets, unless plane tickets are included.

I'd point out that Michael Dirda's review is typically fine, but he makes a small error of omission here:

"While editors John Connolly and Declan Burke prefer to use the word “mystery” rather than “crime novel,” I do think most readers associate the former with puzzles and weekend diversion and the latter with fiction addressing “the complexities of human motivation” and the social ills around us. Very loosely speaking , the old-style mystery or detective story is relaxing; the new-style crime novel is upsetting. The argument implicit in most of the essays included in “Books to Die For” is almost always the same one: “X” is no mere entertainment; it is an exploration of human darkness."

The editors understand the concepts of "crime novel," "thriller," and "mystery" very well, but unfortunately the subtitle chosen for the book is "The World's Greatest Mystery Writers On The World's Greatest Mystery Writers," on both the cover and the title page, front and center.

He is right; someone should have rescued the subtitle from the generic use of "mystery" and substituted the generic "crime novel."

But Michael Dirda, after quoting the eloquent Bill Crider, fails to mention the concept of "noir" and indeed the word "noir" is not mentioned anywhere in his entire review. How did that happen?

wedduck said...

The Throat by Peter Straub