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.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

When In Rome, Giggle Your Socks Off

I started Conor Fitzgerald’s THE FATAL TOUCH the other night (gorgeous cover, right), which is set in the Eternal City, and even at this early stage it’s evident that the novel is more assured than Fitzgerald’s very fine debut, THE DOGS OF ROME. That assurance manifests itself in a laconic sense of humour that knowingly undermines the crime novel’s tropes, as offered by Fitzgerald’s protagonist, Commissioner Blume:
When Grattapaglia had gone, Blume leaned back and turned his face up to the sun. “I need a job that allows me to drink coffee, eat pastries, and soak up the morning warmth. A job without people like Grattapaglia. I’d keep the dead bodies and crime victims, though. I wouldn’t have any perspective on life without them. So, what’s your impression so far?”
  And again, as Blume contemplates a locked door:
“We could go in from this side, or go back and enter through that green door. I have some picklocks in the tactical bag.”
  Blume patiently worked at the tumbler lock on the door. “Almost have it,” he said after five minutes. “I’m a bit out of practice.”
  Three minutes later he pulled out a crowbar from the same bag, stuck it into the wood frame next to the strike plate, and hurled his body against the door.
  Good, clean fun it is too, and THE FATAL TOUCH has put a wry smile on my face with virtually every page. If the rest lives up to the promise of the first 60 pages or so, it’ll be one of the finest crime novels of the year.

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