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.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

THE SCARECROW: Outstanding In Its Own Field

I was shocked, horrified and on the verge of calling the Culture Cops when Gerard Brennan announced a few weeks ago on CSNI that he’d never read a Chandler novel, although – as is the case with most people, I suspect – there are more gaps in my own reading than there is reading. I’ve only ever read one Sherlock Holmes story, for example, that being THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, and it didn’t really do it for me. Should I be tarred and feathered?
  Anyway, THE SCARECROW is the first Michael Connelly novel I’ve read, and I very probably wouldn’t have read it had I not been reviewing it for the Irish Times, which continues to fly in the face of the global trend for cutbacks in print newspaper book review trends with its laudable ‘Book of the Day’ review on its Op-Ed pages. Appropriately enough, THE SCARECROW features Jack McEvoy, last encountered in THE POET, a journalist who is ‘pink-slipped’ by the LA Times as the novel opens, a device which gives Connelly plenty of opportunities to sound off about the decline and fall of newspaper journalism. To wit:
  Eschewing linguistic pyrotechnics, Connelly writes as McEvoy would, as a responsible journalist recording facts rather than a hack bent on exploiting vulnerable people for the sake of a headline. It’s a fine line for a thriller writer to walk, but Connelly pulls it off with aplomb.
  Where there is authorial intrusion is in Connelly’s account of the worm’s-eye view of the evisceration of American journalism.
  Clearly appalled at the ongoing downsizing of newspapers, and the resultant shrinkage in quality journalism, Connelly puts his words into the mouth of the cynical McEvoy: “Like the paper and ink newspaper itself, my time was over. It was about the internet now. It was about hourly uploads to online editions and blogs. It was about television tie-ins and Twitter updates. It was about filing stories on your phone rather than using it to call rewrite. The morning paper might as well have been called the Daily Afterthought.”
  Zing, etc.
  For the rest of the review, clickety-click here

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