“Declan Burke is his own genre. The Lammisters dazzles, beguiles and transcends. Virtuoso from start to finish.” – Eoin McNamee “This bourbon-smooth riot of jazz-age excess, high satire and Wodehouse flamboyance is a pitch-perfect bullseye of comic brilliance.” – Irish Independent Books of the Year 2019 “This rapid-fire novel deserves a place on any bookshelf that grants asylum to PG Wodehouse, Flann O’Brien or Kyril Bonfiglioli.” – Eoin Colfer, Guardian Best Books of the Year 2019 “The funniest book of the year.” – Sunday Independent “Declan Burke is one funny bastard. The Lammisters ... conducts a forensic analysis on the anatomy of a story.” – Liz Nugent “Burke’s exuberant prose takes centre stage … He plays with language like a jazz soloist stretching the boundaries of musical theory.” – Totally Dublin “A mega-meta smorgasbord of inventive language ... linguistic verve not just on every page but every line.Irish Times “Above all, The Lammisters gives the impression of a writer enjoying himself. And so, dear reader, should you.” – Sunday Times “A triumph of absurdity, which burlesques the literary canon from Shakespeare, Pope and Austen to Flann O’Brien … The Lammisters is very clever indeed.” – The Guardian

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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