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.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: Cross by Ken Bruen

Another outing for disgraced ex-Guard Jack Taylor: he’s on the PI trail in Galway, mainly looking into disappearing dogs, and while he’s off the sauce, he often feels that he might be better back on it. His beloved teenage sidekick just took some bullets on his behalf, so he’s got bona fide grief to add to all the other grief that he seems to effortlessly attract, one of which is premature old age. When a teenage boy is crucified and his sister is later immolated in her car, Taylor is asked to investigate by Ridge - an old friend from the force - in order to give her a better shot at promotion. His investigation unravels a vengeance killing that subsequently opened a Pandora’s box of unstoppable malevolence and Bruen cleverly references various snippets from Irish history, culture and folklore that parallel this. The murders and investigation themselves, as well as the murderer, aren’t quite fleshed out enough though, and seem almost incidental to Bruen’s walking tour of an ancient city - and, by extension, country - which have belatedly collided with the modern world. The old strangleholds of religion and poverty are gone, but the hypothesis throughout the novel appears to be that evil is immutable. Bruen has now deservedly established an international reputation, and although Cross dawdles at times, he more than makes up for the lack of pace with tension, atmosphere and humour. – Claire Coughlan

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