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, March 17, 2008

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “The writing of Irish crime novelist Declan Hughes captures much of Raymond Chandler’s mean streets’ poetry. Harder edged than the lyricism of James Lee Burke. With the possible exception of compatriot John Connolly, no one sets a mood better than Hughes … THE PRICE OF BLOOD [aka THE DYING BREED] continues Ed Loy’s progress into the first rank of contemporary mystery protagonists,” says Dana King at New Mystery Reader. Over at the LA Times, Sarah Weinman agrees: “[He] owes a literary debt less to Hammett and Chandler than to Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer books, family melodrama disguised as P.I. fiction … If anything, THE PRICE OF BLOOD – Hughes’ third go-round with private eye Ed Loy – tips its narrative hat to Sophocles and other purveyors of Greek tragedy.” Lovely. Over at Soapstone’s Studio, Soapstone likes Ronan Bennett’s ZUGZWANG: “The villains and allies seem complex in their intersecting schemes, but in a way, they begin to seem like clones of each other, crossing and double-crossing everyone like the round robin tournament that is the backdrop. But at least they are competent, respectable villains … I wholeheartedly recommend ZUGZWANG, especially for (adult) chess players.” They’re still coming in for Twenty Major’s debut: “The humour in THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX PARK is gleefully silly in the manner of cult comedy The Jerk … Throughout, the Major has irreverent jabs at numerous targets (including Hot Press, the bloody upstart) and keeps the story moving at a brisk pace. Overall, a highly entertaining read,” says Paul Nolan at Hot Press (no link). Max Warman at the Sunday Telegraph is bigging up Eoin Colfer’s latest, AIRMAN: “The “megaselling author” tells a Boys’ Own adventure that Biggles would be proud of … The only drawback is that in rushing to find out what happens next, it can be a struggle to read every word on every page.” Nice … “[David] Park’s soulful story about buried secrets, tangled lies and manipulated memories may be a little abstract for readers who didn’t follow the Troubles, but this powerful fiction both humanizes and universalizes the civil war that gripped Ireland for so long,” says Publishers Weekly (via Powell’s Books) of THE TRUTH COMMISSIONER. They’re in broad agreement at the Irish Voice: “Park’s beautifully written new book vividly reminds us that the war on the streets may have ended, but it endures in hearts and minds, and we’d be foolish to ignore the fact.” But hold! What news of Benny Blanco’s THE SILVER SWAN? “Although Black is a beautiful writer, with characters as vividly drawn as any in fiction, as a crime novelist he falls a bit flat. Coincidence plays too big a role in the plot … Ultimately, such plot failings may not matter. Black has created a wonderful protagonist in Quirke,” says Clea Simon at the Boston Globe. “A bit dark, a bit gruesome, but really good literary mystery,” says Bluestocking LA. “I don’t ordinarily read mystery novels, but THE SILVER SWAN is no ordinary mystery. Banville’s command of prose is arresting, and though this is a difficult book to put down because it is so expertly plotted, it is also impossible not to savour,” reckons Tessa at Powells’ Staff Picks. Meanwhile, Susan Illis at New Mystery Reader likes CHRISTINE FALLS: “Quirke is not only a deeply flawed but an untrustworthy protagonist. It’s hard to believe that the same island that brought us chick lit also produces these endlessly dyspeptic mystery and suspense novels that are absorbing on such a different level.” Upward and onward to Catherine O’Flynn’s WHAT WAS LOST: “This book is splendid in so many ways. A page-turning, compelling story, as well as witty, touching, and altogether wonderful … My only complaint is that the ending felt a little rushed, and the solution to the mystery a little contrived; the build-up was better than the resolution. But when the build-up is this good, that is a small complaint,” says Leena at Vulpes Libris. Yet more hup-yas for Sir Kenneth of Bruen: “It takes only a couple of hours to read AMMUNITION, and for fans of James Ellroy or Elmore Leonard, they are hours agreeably spent. In fact, Bruen continues to revere Ed McBain, and even opens the novel with a sort of homage to the master, who died between the composition of CALIBRE and that of AMMUNITION. For the hard-boiled cop novel, the beat goes on,” says Lection. Over at Revish, Mack Lundy likes CROSS: “The writing in CROSS is lean and finely honed. His observations on the Irish and the Church are trenchant and often wryly amusing as always … If you do have a tolerance for despair and seeing a man about a step away from the abyss and like a finely crafted story, then you can’t get better than these.” Here at Crime Always Pays, Colman Keane cast an approving eye over Gene Kerrigan’s LITTLE CRIMINALS: “The story unfolds at pace and the author’s skilful storytelling had me hooked. I’ve rarely read a book that has me turning the pages to reach the conclusion swiftly, whilst at the same time regretting the approach of the last page.” Over at Tonight, Peter Sullivan is just about in favour of Julie Parson’s I SAW YOU: “Michael McLoughlin is an endearing detective, one with many faults, but a certain doggedness. The book’s action is not fast, but keeps the reader’s interest.” Finally, and sans links, a trio of big-ups for Sam Millar’s latest, BLOODSTORM: “Millar is rapidly building a reputation for pacy thrillers in the crime noir genre … this is a violent tale of murder and revenge told in brutal prose that makes no concessions to the faint-hearted,” says the Irish Independent. “Millar’s ability to tap into the dark recesses of the human mind is brilliantly constructed, page after nerve-shattering page. BLOODSTORM is a triumph from a master storyteller,” reckons the Irish News. And the Irish Mail on Sunday is no less impressed: “Millar whips up a storm in this brilliant, fast-paced thriller. Gritty and gripping, BLOODSTORM is a real page-turner … The promise of more to come from this chilling and dark series should keep Millar’s growing army of fans content – at least for the time being.” What time is it, people? Yep, it’s Millar time …

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