“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, December 29, 2012

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher (12A) opens with the murder of five civilians by Iraq War sniper veteran James Barr (Joseph Sikora). When Barr is quickly tracked down by Pittsburgh PD detective Emerson (David Oyelowo), the case against him seems cast-iron, but Barr requests that Emerson and the District Attorney Rodin (Richard Jenkins) send for Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise), a former military MP who once investigated Barr for multiple homicides in Iraq. Can Reacher, working for Barr’s defence attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), prove the innocence of a man he knows to be a cold-blooded killer? Adapted from the best-selling novel One Shot by Lee Child, and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Jack Reacher is a thriller that works on a number of levels. A fast-paced tale full of twists and turns, it allows Cruise play a kind of private eye, with the full quota of laconic quips and comebacks we expect from such characters, while action fans will get their kicks from the various fist-fights, car chases and shoot-outs. The story also functions as an exploration of the nature of justice itself, however; neither Reacher nor Helen Rodin are convinced of their client’s innocence, neither are particularly naïve when it comes to the workings of the US justice system, and yet both are adamant that due process must be served on behalf of a man who cannot defend himself. It’s an intriguing blend, and Cruise appears to revel in the role of avenging angel: “I’m not a hero,” he warns one opponent, “I’m a drifter with nothing to lose.” Part Dirty Harry (1971), part Shane (1953), Jack Reacher is a surprisingly dark and complex anti-hero for what is ostensibly a mainstream blockbuster. Expect to see a lot more of him over the coming years. **** - Declan Burke

  This review first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

God Bless Us, Every One

It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk-tank … Okay, not actually. But it is that time of year, the season of hope, and peace and goodwill to all men and women - aka the week or so when the CAP elves take a header into the vat of elf-wonking juice that has been brewing nicely since the summer solstice.
  I have to say, I’m very much looking forward to the break. It’s been a great year for yours truly, a hugely enjoyable experience of books published and awards won (okay, one award won), and good reviews and bad reviews, and good people met with, and talked with, and all of it bound up in books - and all of it exhausting. I sincerely hope that you had as enjoyable a year, and that next year will prove to be every bit as interesting and challenging and fun.
  A very happy and peaceful Christmas to you all, folks, and I look forward to seeing you back here early in the New Year. In the meantime, here’s the Chief Entertainments Elf to serenade you in joyfully tuneless fashion for the season that’s in it. Roll it there, Rudolph …