Michael Haskins

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Declan Burke's "The Big O" is coming to America!

Personally, I believe it is a good thing that Ireland’s biggest export is no longer its citizens. It has taken more than 100 years for the exodus to stop. What is the world to do without the Irish to be its police officers, politicians, publicans, and rogues? Don’t panic, the Irish are falling back on one of their oldest talents and traditions, the written word.

What I’ve heard from one Irish writer and journalist, Declan Burke, is that his second book, The Big O, has been bought by Harcourt and will be available in America by the fall of ’09.

I am so sorry for you, because it is a long wait for a fantastic read, especially for mystery fans. I can say that, because I’ve read both Burke’s books. All right, you want to know what you’re missing; I’ll give you a little hint.

Think of the ironic humor of Donald Westlake’s John Dortmunder novels, and throw in the black humor of a Carl Hiaasen Florida-misadventure novel. Mix up the humorous, determined, demented heroes and anti-heroes of these two fantastic authors and (I’m not done yet!) toss in some hardboiled writing, a lot like Elmore Leonard’s, and you have Declan Burke’s writing. Think of it as an Irish Stew of writing.

Carl Hiaasen should not read The Big O, because, while laughing himself silly, he will be banging his head against the proverbial wall because someone else created the anti-hero Rossi; a character that makes you laugh and then scares the bejesus out of you after the lights go off.

If you accept the premise that Dortmunder is not a good guy, but he ain’t bad either, you will agree with me that Karen and Ray, from The Big O, while not two of the most law-abiding citizens of the world, they’re not bad, just a little desperate and determined. After all, Ray wants to go straight and stop kidnapping for a shylock and Karen is only a stickup artist to help make ends meet, temporally. And the divorce of Dr. Dolan’s and the involvement of the female detective, Doyle, only complicate Ray’s criminal life.

I don’t really want to do a review of the plot and so forth, but I do want to say you will enjoy this book, if you like the writers mentioned above.

Ireland (home of my great-grandparents), is producing some terrific mystery writers these days and many of their books, sadly, are unavailable in the States. Though, some of their books can be ordered online, via Amazon’s European site. You can go to Burke’s http://www.crimealwayspays.blogspot.com/, where you will find some great reviews and discover how to order his book. Check his list of Irish writers, too. You will discover some great writers. Their websites are linked on his blog and worth checking out, if you are a mystery fan. You can also order The Big O on the site, but only I can say, “I was the first to read it!” It is okay with me, if you claim second place.

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