“Declan Burke is his own genre. The Lammisters dazzles, beguiles and transcends. Virtuoso from start to finish.” – Eoin McNamee “This bourbon-smooth riot of jazz-age excess, high satire and Wodehouse flamboyance is a pitch-perfect bullseye of comic brilliance.” – Irish Independent Books of the Year 2019 “This rapid-fire novel deserves a place on any bookshelf that grants asylum to PG Wodehouse, Flann O’Brien or Kyril Bonfiglioli.” – Eoin Colfer, Guardian Best Books of the Year 2019 “The funniest book of the year.” – Sunday Independent “Declan Burke is one funny bastard. The Lammisters ... conducts a forensic analysis on the anatomy of a story.” – Liz Nugent “Burke’s exuberant prose takes centre stage … He plays with language like a jazz soloist stretching the boundaries of musical theory.” – Totally Dublin “A mega-meta smorgasbord of inventive language ... linguistic verve not just on every page but every line.Irish Times “Above all, The Lammisters gives the impression of a writer enjoying himself. And so, dear reader, should you.” – Sunday Times “A triumph of absurdity, which burlesques the literary canon from Shakespeare, Pope and Austen to Flann O’Brien … The Lammisters is very clever indeed.” – The Guardian

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: WHO IS CONRAD HIRST? by Kevin Wignall

At first sight an unwieldy title, WHO IS CONRAD HIRST? becomes an ever more poignant question the deeper you delve into Kevin Wignall’s fourth novel. Wignall quickly and skilfully establishes what Hirst is: a contract killer and a very good one as a result of his dehumanising experiences as photographer-turned-mercenary in the former Yugoslavia. But the story opens in the aftermath of what should have been the routine killing of an old man who was once something of a minor power broker during the Cold War, with Hirst visiting his handler having already decided – for reasons that only become apparent much later in the story – that his exit strategy from the life he has lived for the last decade will be the relatively simple killing of the four men who have been benefiting from his perverse talents. It’s an intriguing set-up, but almost immediately Wignall tosses in a curve-ball: were he and Hirst to pursue that line, the story would become an uncovering of what Hirst is, not who he is. It’s this element, the philosophical self-questioning Hirst subjects himself to as he criss-crosses Europe pursued by various shadowy agencies, that lends the lie to the intriguing but misleading ‘Jason Bourne’ references on the cover. Even as Hirst ruthlessly eliminates those who stand in his way, and with a cold-blooded suddenness that can cause the book to jump in your hands, Wignall takes aim at the heart of the human condition, peeling back the layers of paranoia, suspicion and mistrust that characterise – if we’re fully honest – our relationship with our darkest selves until the messy, inconvenient truth of Hirst's true identity is finally laid bare. A hugely satisfying blend of tragic love story, adrenaline-charged thriller and philosophical tract, and one that (appropriately enough) raises as many questions as it answers, this novel is as subtly devastating as an assassin in the night. – Declan Burke

This review was first published on Euro Crime

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