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 26, 2008

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “The re-telling of Turnstile’s story and a detailed historical account of the mutiny are based on various resources, including original transcripts of what happened en route to the mutiny … With its effective combination of drama and history, this is a real page turner,” says Laura Wurzal at the Sunday Sun of John Boyne’s MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY. Daragh Reddin at The Metro (no link) is equally impressed: “A wonderfully ingenious and witty narrator – think Holden Caulfield crossed with Vernon God Little. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY is also a feat of remarkable research, but Boyne wears his learning lightly and fashions an old-school picaresque yarn rich in memorable, full-bodied prose.” Nice … They’re coming in thick and fast now for John Connolly’s latest, THE REAPERS: “Connolly’s triumphant prose and unerring rendering of his tortured characters mesmerize and chill. He creates a world where everyone is corrupt, murderers go unpunished, but betrayals are always avenged. Yet another masterpiece from a proven talent, THE REAPERS will terrify and transfix,” says Marshal Zeringue at New Reads. Via Poisoned Fiction comes the Publishers Weekly verdict: “Series fans may initially be disappointed to see Parker on the sidelines, but Connolly’s rich prose and compelling plot more than compensate.” And at the same link you’ll find the Booklist hup-ya: “Connolly has crafted one of the most darkly intriguing books this reviewer has encountered in more than three decades of reading crime fiction ... To call this a page-turner is to damn it with faint praise. Veteran crime fans will want to savour every note-perfect word.” Meanwhile, over at the Irish Times (no link), Declan Hughes was very impressed indeed: “Last year’s THE UNQUIET held the disparate elements of Connolly’s fictional universe in a new balance while sacrificing none of the previous intensity: confident, stylish and moving, it was by some distance the best of the Parker series. That sense of greater harmony and assuredness carries through to THE REAPERS, a supernatural western set among an elite cadre of samurai-style contract killers and the most purely entertaining novel Connolly has written.” Lovely … Lindsay Jones at the Ilford Recorder likes Cora Harrison’s latest, to wit: “MICHAELMAS TRIBUTE is the second novel to feature 16th century Brehon (judge) and sleuth, Mara … Harrison uses her story to explain the early Irish legal system and to show us what life was like in rural Ireland while a young Henry VIII was on the throne in England … Mara is feisty, charming and a thoroughly likeable female lead.” Over at Crime Scene Norn Iron, Gerard Brennan gets his jollies from Adrian McKinty’s latest, THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD: “I’m impressed by McKinty’s skill at painting his surroundings vividly by showing rather than info-dumping … Forsythe’s love / hate relationship with Belfast is made all the more real, I suspect, by the fact that McKinty has not lost touch with his Northern Irish roots … And so this bastard child of Tony Soprano morality and James Joyce literacy ends the Michael Forsythe trilogy.” A belated big-up for Derek Landy’s SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT: “Full of page-turning adventure, scary magical duels, explosions, chases, mysterious puzzles, and plenty of suspenseful sneaking around; humorous dialogue keeps the story light. Intense-but-not-gory action will keep readers engaged and wanting more,” reckons Aarenex at his / her Live Journal … A couple now for Declan Hughes: “Although I enjoyed THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD, THE COLOUR OF BLOOD is a much more confident piece of work. Hughes now seems to have a steady control of the genre and, although the bloodbath at the end of the novel, stretches credulity a little, this really kept me reading with its fast-paced narrative and gritty realism,” is the verdict at Profmike’s Weblog. Meanwhile, Peter Rozovsky has his three cents about THE DYING BREED in the Philly Inquirer: “Like others in Ireland’s current crop of brilliant crime writers, [Hughes] is skeptical about the country’s recent economic boom. More than most, however, he unfolds his dramas against a background of the earlier, pre-Celtic-Tiger, pre-easier-availability-of-guns Ireland. Ken Bruen writes about wrecked souls making their way through a country racked and wrecked by change. Hughes’ Ireland, though also contemporary, is more redolent of the ancient truths: church, intimate violence and, above all, family or, as his characters most often put it, blood.” Robert at Sci-Fi London likes DB Shan’s latest: “PROCESSION OF THE DEAD is a short, sharp read, well paced and always interesting enough to keep you turning the page. The fantasy elements arising from the Incan references […] are well realised and, refreshingly, retain their mystery until the very end.” A couple now for Tana French’s long-awaited sequel to IN THE WOODS, THE LIKENESS: “This one was even better than IN THE WOODS, I think. It was certainly creepier, with the whole doppleganger aspect … And it was so atmospheric, it felt dark and broody. I truly hope to see more of Cassie,” says the Dread Pirate at Ye Cap’n’s Logge Booke. Over at Answer Girl, the verdict is even more impressive: “Deeply emotional, harrowing and sad, THE LIKENESS begs comparison with Donna Tartt’s THE SECRET HISTORY and Kevin Wignall’s AMONG THE DEAD, but establishes French firmly as a serious writer doing lasting work.” Finally, a trio for Andrew Taylor’s BLEEDING HEART SQUARE: “Andrew Taylor is the modern master of a very Dickensian underworld: that of the seedy, the shifty, the down-at-heel who cling to shreds of social acceptability; people he regards with a sharply observant pity. This book cannot be confined within the genre of historical crime fiction. It is a rich novel with a serious political dimension, evoking scenes which, though chronologically recent, seem to belong to a vanished world … A sense of brooding evil pervades the complex plot, [which is] handled with great assurance,” says Jane Jakeman at The Independent. Over at The Guardian, Laura Wilson agrees: “In a depiction of lonely, unfulfilled lives worthy of Patrick Hamilton, Taylor fuels his story with quiet desperation - for love, work, money or simply booze - to create a moving, atmospheric and suspenseful tale of true pathos.” And Susanna Yager at The Sunday Telegraph concurs too: “BLEEDING HEART SQUARE, Andrew Taylor’s new thriller set in the 1930s, is a very cleverly constructed book, its deceptively gentle pace gradually drawing you into a story of quiet menace … The period atmosphere, as in all Taylor’s work, is flawless. He simply gets better and better.” Curses! Apparently yon Taylor is a handsome cove too. Is there no end to his torturing of our mediocre souls?

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