“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “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 13, 2013

Return Of The Mc

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that John Connolly’s Charlie Parker novels have been e-bundled, and that it’s a very good idea indeed. Shortly afterwards I stumbled across a similar package, this one from the excellent John McFetridge, aka the Canadian Elmore Leonard, who has bundled his Toronto-set novels. Quoth the blurb elves:
Road rage or a premeditated killing? DIRTY SWEET is a fast-paced crime story that follows each character to a surprising end. In EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE, detective Gord Bergeron has problems. Maybe it’s his new partner, Ojibwa native Detective Armstrong. Or maybe it’s the missing ten-year-old girl, or the unidentified torso dumped in an alley behind a motel, or what looks like corruption deep within the police force. In SWAP, Toronto’s shadow city sprawls outwards, a grasping and vicious economy of drugs, guns, sex, and gold bullion. And that shadow city feels just like home for Get — a Detroit boy, project-raised, ex-army, Iraq and Afghanistan, only signed up for the business opportunities, plenty of them over there. Now he’s back, and he’s been sent up here by his family to sell guns to Toronto’s fast-rising biker gangs.
  Looks like a very sweet deal to me, and I warmly recommend all three novels.
  For a review of DIRTY SWEET, clickety-click here

Friday, April 12, 2013

Better The Evil You Know

I finished Patrick McGinley’s BOGMAIL during the week, and a very fine read it is too. Republished by New Island Books as a ‘Modern Irish Classic’, it is neither a ‘whodunit’ nor a ‘whydunit’ – we know from very early on who killed the barman Eamonn Eales, and why. But BOGMAIL’S pleasures lie elsewhere, not least in its beautiful descriptions of its rural Donegal village setting and mountainous hinterland, the whimsical humour and linguistic gymnastics that echo Flann O’Brien, and the occasional foray into philosophical conundrum.
  At one point McGinley touches on something intrinsic to the crime / mystery novel, which is the existence of evil. I’m not noticeably religious myself, and I don’t believe that Evil exists as a force of nature in the same way as, say, gravity does – although there’s no doubt that there are people and acts that can be described as evil. Anyway, McGinley offers this, during a conversation between his main characters, Roarty and Potter:
  ‘It’s good to be confronted with evil if only because it reminds you of the residue of good within you.’
  ‘Why call it “evil”? Why not “disorder”? Use the word “evil” and you are swamped in theology.” (pg 213)
  Is evil a necessary by-product of theology? An old-fashioned superstition? Or is it out there somewhere, a physical force lurking in the unseen and unknowable dark matter of the universe?
  Answers on a used twenty to the usual address.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

“Impetuous! Homeric!”

So this ‘polish’ of the latest tome, CRIME ALWAYS PAYS, has turned into something a little more comprehensive, as these things are wont to do, which means that normal service here is still experiencing a hiatus. Apologies, yet again.
  If you’ll allow me to go off at a tangent, though, I came across a fascinating little snippet whilst doing some on-line research. The second half of the book is set on Ios, as I’ve mentioned before, which is one of the places claimed as the final resting place of Homer (right) – one of the scenes in the book (how could I resist?) is set at Homer’s Tomb. I’d always thought, or was taught, that The Iliad and The Odyssey were composed circa 850-750 BCE, but I found this terrific history of Ios, courtesy of Mapmistress, which has this to say about Homer and his origins:
I would like to contest Homer’s age. For some reason, most place Homer’s age c. 850 B.C.E. which is far too young. Homer was translated into Greek from the earliest version of the Phoenician alphabet. That version of the Phoenician alphabet dates to c. 1000 B.C.E. But there is strong evidence that Homer was in another alphabet and that the Phoenicians translated that one into their language. Most of Homer’s terms for names of places comes from what is known as Linear B from Crete, which dates to around 1500 B.C.E. But the possibility exists that Homer may have been written in Linear A from Crete, and that the Phoenicians translated Homer from Linear A rather than Linear B. Linear A from Crete has never been fully deciphered. It originates c. 1700 B.C.E. around the time of Mycenaean invasions. Linear A (although never fully deciphered) is said to be closer to the Hittite language. And since the Hittite language is closer to the Phoenician language, it may very well be that the Phoenicians took Homer from Linear A and translated it into the first Phoenician alphabet. (1050 B.C.E.)
  Either way, Homer still had to be in Linear B or older, since all the terms for names of places which Homer uses exist in Crete’s Linear B dating to 1500 B.C.E. But if my theory is right and Phoenicians translated Homer from Linear A (closer to Hittite language), then Homer could have been written between 1700-1500 B.C.E. which would actually make sense. Homer’s heroes are Mycenaeans invading other islands and coasts which began c. 1700 B.C.E. archeologically speaking anyway.
  Any Homeric scholars out there with any thoughts on this?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Island Life



Yet again I need to apologise for the disruption in normal service, but I’ve been rather busy in the last week or so polishing up the latest tome, aka CRIME ALWAYS PAYS – and great fun it is too, not least because at this point the characters (most of the reprobates from THE BIG O) have fetched up on the Greek island of Ios. So I get to spend a couple of hours per day on the island – that’s the port pictured above – which is bringing back all kinds of good memories. Anyway, bear with me and I’ll be back to you with the usual flummery soon …