THE LOST AND THE BLIND: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. SLAUGHTERS HOUND: “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL: “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. THE BIG O: “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. EIGHTBALL BOOGIE: “One of the sharpest, wittiest books Ive read for ages.” – Sunday Independent.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Review: WHAT YOU DID by Claire McGowan

Claire McGowan established a very strong reputation with her Northern Ireland-set series featuring the forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, but What You Did (Thomas & Mercer) is a standalone domestic noir which opens with six friends convening for a cosy Saturday night college reunion, which is blown apart by a shocking allegation of rape. The novel’s narrator, Ali, is horrified – but should she believe her husband, Mike, who denies the allegation, or should she believe her best friend, Karen? There’s enough plot there to generate a whole novel, and especially as Ali is the Chair of her local Women’s Refuge, but Claire McGowan piles twist upon twist, riddling the story with moral dilemmas to the point where Ali despairs that ‘the events set in motion on Saturday night were like a Greek tragedy, and would continue to unfurl until everything was destroyed.’ Not content with that, McGowan folds in a sub-plot from the friends’ time in Oxford, ‘when the six of us had brushed against something dark, and come away intact.’ The result, a story rooted in #metoo and #timesup, is unapologetically political, and one of the most engrossing Irish crime novels in years. ~ Declan Burke

  This review appeared in the Irish Times last Saturday, as part of my latest crime fiction column. Other titles reviewed include REWIND by Catherine Ryan Howard, WITCHFINDER by Andrew Williams, 47 SECONDS by Jane Ryan, and HEAVEN, MY HOME by Attica Locke. For the full column, clickety-click here

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