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, December 29, 2007

A Waltz To The Music Of Chancer

We’re loving The Chancer (right), people. Relatively new to the realms of lit crit, he is delicate in his appraisals, Solomon-like in his judgements. Here’s The Chancer on Benny Blanco, aka Benjamin Black:
“Let’s get this right again: Booker Prize winner John Banville, distressed by his poor sales, decides to pen a series of crime novels under a pseudonym – hello Benjamin Black – on the understanding that the people who would never, ever buy a John Banville book might accidentally pick one up, resulting in the Tesco-friendly best-seller every highbrow author secretly craves. And it works! Not only that, Banville’s new Black book, THE SILVER SWAN, got better all-round reviews than his last couple of ‘proper’ novels – AND you can actually read the bleedin’ thing, for a change. The Chancer Inquires: Can a pseudonym kill off the real author? Very Stephen King’s THE DARK HALF, like. Word has it that Banville is set to receive one of the literary community’s highest honours – a mammoth interview in The Paris Review. Trust us: It’s a big deal. While we’re at it, The Chancer wants Roddy Doyle to stick with the kids’ books – ‘Rover Saves Christmas’ gets better with every read. Best Irish Christmas story EVER? Absolutely. Beats the shite out of ‘The Dead’, for starters.”
Get off that fence, sir, you’ll get splinters up your wazoo. Having divested himself of his opinion, The Chancer then links to a nifty little interview from back in May at LA Weekly, ‘John Banville Takes on Benjamin Black: Still killing women’, where Benny Blanco gets into the Benjamin Black nitty-gritty with Nathan Ihara, to wit:
NI: But let’s talk about the book — what led you to write in such a drastically different style?
BB: “At the time I thought it was an exercise because I had finished the John Banville novel THE SEA and I started to read Georges Simenon. I was having lunch with the political philosopher John [N.] Gray, and he put me on to him. So I started to read and I was really blown away by this extraordinary writer. I had never known this kind of thing was possible, to create such work in that kind of simple — well, apparently simple — direct style. So it wasn’t any more serious than that. But looking back I think it was very much a transition. It was a way of breaking free from the books I had been writing for the last 20 years, these first-person narratives of obsessed half-demented men going on and on and on and on. I had to break out of that. And I see now in retrospect that CHRISTINE FALLS was part of that process. Because it’s a completely different process than writing as John Banville. It’s completely action driven, and it’s dialogue driven, and it’s character driven. Which none of my Banville books are – I’m not sure what drives them.”
Hmmmm, sounds to us like a case for quirky ol’ Quirke. Any clues to get him started, gentle readers?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Books Of The Year # 7: THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD By Adrian McKinty

Being the continuing stooooooory of our ‘2007 Round-Up Of Books Wot My Friends Wrote’ compilation, by which we hope to make some friends for 2008. To wit:
The concluding part of Adrian McKinty’s ‘Dead’ trilogy, following on from DEAD I WELL MAY BE and THE DEAD YARD, THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD finds the seemingly indestructible Michael Forsythe back on home ground in Ireland for the first time since he left Belfast in 1991. It’s not what you might call a happy homecoming, however; the daughter of his former lover, the flame-haired Bridget, has gone missing in Belfast, and Bridget needs Michael to help track her down. Among the many snags in this scenario is that Michael has spent the last decade living in an FBI witness protection programme designed to keep him off Bridget’s radar, given that his final revenge killing was that of her husband-to-be and Bridget has since assumed control of a criminal empire. Arriving into Dublin on June 16 – Bloomsday, honouring the hero of James Joyce’s Ulysses – Michael has 24 hours to find Bridget’s daughter and thus cancel out his debt of blood, or face the fatal consequences. McKinty is a rare writer, one who can combine the conventionally muscular prose of crime fiction with a lyrical flair for language, and the blend is a compelling one. Forsythe is himself a fascinating character, brusque and blunt in his public exchanges, lethal when trapped in a tight spot (of which there are many in this furiously-plotted tale, which loosely follows the path laid down by both Leopold Bloom and Odysseus), yet possessed of a poet’s soul during his interior monologues. The violence is graphically etched into the page, as if stamped there by the force of its authenticity, but McKinty never forgets that his first priority is to entertain, leavening the bleakness with flashes of mordant humour. If there’s a disappointment it’s that this is being touted as the final Forsythe novel, and one hopes otherwise; but if THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD is the last we’ll see of this Irish rogue cannon, then the pathos-drenched finale is fittingly poignant. – Declan Burke
This review was first published on Euro Crime

Sunday, December 23, 2007

God Rest Ye, Merry Ladies And Gentlemen …

’Tis the season to be jolly. And lazy. And, given that the CAP elves (right) have deserted en masse for the North Pole, the double-jobbing traitors, the Grand Vizier has no choice but to shut down the Crime Always Pays operation for a few days, possibly even a week, all depending on how quickly the elves recover from their post-Christmas Day immersion in the vat of their Patented Elf-Wonking Juice (©). Anyhoo, on behalf of the elves, HR Pufnstuf and Mrs Vizier, the Grand Vizier would like to wish everyone a happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year, and we’ll see you all back here early in 2008. Take good care, people …