Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “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.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: Christine Falls by Benjamin Black (Picador)

All paperback editions of Christine Falls carry little blue stickers reminding you that it was written by Man Booker winner John Banville. To ensure he doesn’t alienate his core fan base? Because chances are they’ll be pretty alienated once they get around to reading it. The novel revolves around the joyless Quirke, a hard-drinking, cynical pathologist with a screwed-up personal life – so far, so apposite for the protagonist of a crime novel. In a trail that begins with Quirke’s own family, when his brother-in-law, an obstetrician, changes the records pertaining to the death of a girl called Christine Falls, Quirke uncovers a baby smuggling operation that ends with high-ranking Catholic clergy in Boston. Banville’s descriptive and atmosphere-creating faculties are utilised well; the dreariness, repression and theocracy of 1950s Dublin are deftly drawn. However, as a crime novel, it falls short on story development and pace and relies on clichés, pat answers and two-dimensional characters to move the plot along. Baby smuggling in ’50’s Ireland could have been fantastic idea for a novel but it’s a pity that Banville chose to explore it through this genre - quick-moving plots and believable baddies aren’t his forte. But kudos for trying.- Claire Coughlan

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