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.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

They’re Under Starter’s Orders … And They’re Off!

Crikey. You wait ages for a thriller set in the world of Irish horse-racing, and then suddenly you’re looking at a neck-and-neck race to what we can only hope will be a photo finish. Last week these pages featured a Q&A with horseracing journalist Lissa Oliver, previously a nominee in the James Tait Award and Longman History Award, whose CHANTILLY DAWNS is published by the small but perfectly formed imprint Book Republic. Quoth the blurb elves:
When top jockey Marcel Dessaint loses his racing licence, his whole world falls apart. Accused of deliberately pulling up healthy horses, Marcel is passed a verdict of ‘Gross Misconduct’ and forced to face the enmity of his peers. With a famous face and nowhere to hide in Chantilly, Marcel becomes an outcast in the only world he knows. With The Derby now out of his reach, he struggles to overcome his own self-doubt, while battling to uncover the truth behind the horses’ defeats and clear his name. As he gradually fears he may have been betrayed by one of his closest friends, he discovers all too late that it’s not just his licence on the line. Lives are at stake …
  All of which suggests that Ireland, a country with an honourable heritage in the Sport of Kings, has finally found its own Dick Francis. But lo! Here comes Irish Times’ horseracing journalist Brian O’Connor’s BLOODLINE, out of the Poolbeg stable, thundering up on the rails:
Liam Dee’s world is turned upside down when a young foreign groom is murdered at Bailey McFarlane’s stables on the Curragh. Liam, a champion steeplechase jockey, is initially both witness and suspect. However, shrewd police detective Diarmuid Yeats takes a gamble on his innocence and enlists his help in the hunt for the killer. This nightmare experience exacerbates the tensions in Liam’s life. He has been falling out of love with his job, his joy in racing relentlessly worn away by the struggle to keep the weight down on his six-foot frame. Is it time to quit? But McFarlane’s stables houses the brilliant Patrician, a potential Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, and Liam wants to be the jockey to get him first past the finish post in the race that matters most. With emotions at pressure point, Liam falls in love with the exotic blonde Ukrainian stable girl, Lara, leaving him in an even more vulnerable position than before. Then the killer strikes again and the race to the finish post is replaced by a race for survival . . . and there is no second place.
  So there you have it. A two-horse race with no clear favourite, and both contenders boasting a noble lineage. They’re under starter’s orders … and they’re off!


Irish Gift Man said...

Great article, just wanted to say it was a great read and I am sure I'll enjoy reading more.

Thanks, ShamrockGift

Pepper Smith said...

Ooooh, not fair. Now I have to figure out how I'm going to get both of them.

Neil Mount said...

I read an advance copy of Brian O'Connors's Bloodline and it was really gripping stuff! Highly recommend.

Brian was kind enough to contribute his own top ten favourite books to Book Aware in case anyone wants to check that out!