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, July 22, 2009

The Revolution Will Be Televised, With Endorsements

Kudos yet again to the Irish Times for its Book of the Day review slot, although today’s offering was a terrible review of Adrian McKinty’s FIFTY GRAND. By which I mean, the reviewer didn’t like the novel, but the review itself was terrible. It kicks off like this:
SERIOUS CRIME fiction these days is a fickle gamble, especially for newer writers. Genre boundaries have become blurred. Crime thriller enthusiasts are perhaps among the hardest readers to impress because of their love for both the list of illustrious luminaries and equally because of the powerful abilities of this same elite to bring their main characters to life. It’s called character stamina …
  Leaving aside ‘character stamina’ (?), what’s all this about ‘crime thriller enthusiasts’? Do those who love chick lit not have a list of illustrious luminaries? What about sci-fi lovers – don’t they have their own geniuses? Do not those who prefer literary fiction, or poetry, love their luminaries for their ability to bring their characters to life?
  The review goes downhill from there, losing wheels at a rate of knots. This bit stands out, though:
Some of Hollywood’s hottest names pop up in the storyline, including Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Matthew Broderick. Seeing their names made me increasingly uncomfortable as to how they might feel about being associated with the image of the resort’s labour conditions, bent sheriff and sleazy drug dealers.
  Happily, the reviewer was in no way uncomfortable with trashing a brilliant writer’s novel on the basis that he, the reviewer, preferred the works of Jeffrey Deaver and David Baldacci.
  Seriously, some days you’d wonder why you bother your hole.
  And then, just when you think the day can’t get any worse, the ever-fragrant Sarah Weinman pops up with the worst cover (see above) in the history of publishing.
  It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better, people …


Twenty Major said...

Reviewers, eh? Don't get me started. Although perhaps it's a small comfort for the writer when a bad review is poorly written.

Not that I'd know.


That 'Dan Brown' cover. That's going too far. It's one thing to have testimonials, even make it somewhat prominent, but to make his name bigger than the author is a) insulting to the writer and b) shows that the publishers have more faith in the name of someone like him to make people buy the book than the book itself. Which kind of explains a) but still.

I'll shut up now.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

That is truly awful. I think I'll have to avoid both writers now (especially since I don't care for Dan Brown's work).

pattinase (abbott) said...

This is wrong on so many levels.

Corey Wilde said...

'Fifty Grand' is still the best book I've read this year. That reviewer has a dearth of gray matter but more importantly, clearly has no soul. And doesn't seem to be particularly well read in crime fiction either.

seanag said...

Why is a reviewer who admits that cop novels are not their cup of tea reviewing a cop novel? Not that that's how I would categorize it myself, but still.

I think that there has been plenty of violence in all of Adrian's novels, but I would never call it gratuitous. It's there for a reason.

Are people really so surprised that a woman could employ violence in this day and age? In Mercado, what violence represents is not her inner nature--she's no robocop-- but her absolute determination to redress the wrong of her father's death. That's the premise, Gareth.

Ian Hunter said...

This is one of the worst reviews of a book I've ever read. A complete hatchet job. Why would they have someone review a book when their command of the genre and the English language is so poor.

McKinty's 50 Grand is one of the best crime fiction novels of the decade! Deep, reflective, lyrical with incredible characters with an integrity of vision. And the truth hurts a bit doesnt it. I'm from Michigan so I should know about it. More so than our reviewer from the irish times.

You can spot the man's idiocy by his use of the word gratuitous - what a hacky and lazy thing to say and so inappropriate for McKinty's books.

And you're right Corey - no soul. I think the reviewer should worry less about the hurt feelings in Hollywood and try to open their heart to power of words.

Declan Burke said...

I also liked this bit: "Mercado could have been a very sexy woman; but instead, she became a female parody of your typical bent male cop. Women are not generally as violent as the story portrays her."

(a) Why is it important that the character be sexy?

(b) The whole point of Mercado is that she's in Colorado on a point of principle; if I've ever come across a crime fic character more removed from the "typical bent male cop", it's Mercado.

(c) "Women are not generally as violent as the story portrays her." Erm, perhaps - except this is fiction, which calls for unusual scenarios and extreme responses. Plus, she's a Cuban cop - what do you think they use down there, tickle sticks?

By the way, the Dan Brown / Simon Kernick cover ... Do you think 'conflicted' covers how Simon Kernick feels about being lumped in, as a writer, with Dan Brown? I've never read any Kernick - is he any good?

Cheers, Dec

Anonymous said...


Gareth O'Callaghan - that amazingly successful broadcaster and author ... I don't think so. Jeffery Deaver would indeed be his cup of tea. Need I say anymore.


Mack said...

Wow, talk about a review totally at odds with my reaction to Fifty Grand. It's like we read different books. I'm going to have to write a review just to get rid of bad taste left by the Irish times.