“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, December 28, 2013
As the names suggest, Identical takes place in the Greek-American community that has established a significant presence in Turow’s recurring fictional setting of Kindle County, although Turow has one eye on a much older Greek culture. Hal’s father is called Zeus, and Tim Brodie, the private investigator Hal employs, has a particular fondness for reading Greek mythology. It is Brodie who amplifies the motif of identical twins that lies at the heart of the novel, specifically referencing the myth of Castor and Pollux, a story that in part provides the inspiration for the tragedy that subsequently engulfs the characters.
A quirky bunch of characters they are, too. Tim Brodie is an unconventional private eye, an 83-year-old retiree bordering on senility who is still in mourning over the recent loss of his wife. Evon Miller, reprised from the novel Personal Injuries (1999), is a gay ex-FBI agent struggling to extricate herself from an emotionally destructive relationship. Paul Gianis, meanwhile, is that most unlikely of creations, a former lawyer and aspiring politician whose idealism still outweighs his pragmatism, a man whose faltering bid for power in 2008 is obliquely cross-referenced with the gathering momentum of Barack Obama’s campaign for presidential election.
All told, it’s an absorbing thriller that boasts its fair share of twists and turns as the characters become increasingly entangled in a legal cat’s cradle that is further complicated by updated DNA identification techniques that weren’t available to the investigating team 25 years previously. Rooted in Greek mythology, the novel is an ambitious attempt to blend ancient and modern storytelling forms, in the process reminding us that human nature has changed far less in the intervening three thousand years than might have been hoped, particularly when it comes to our more venal instincts.
Surprisingly, however, Identical is most effective when Turow turns from the public and the political to the private and the personal. A variety of expressions of love and loss are explored in considerable depth here, often in very moving and unsettling ways. The result is a novel that is utterly fascinated by character, and especially with how love can twist us into creatures unrecognisable even to ourselves when we seek to defend and protect those we love at any cost. ~ Declan Burke
This review was first published in the Irish Times.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
For all the details, clickety-click here …
Monday, December 23, 2013
Red Sky in Morning, Paul Lynch.And that’s pretty much it from Crime Always Pays for 2013. A very happy Christmas to you all, folks, and thanks so much for stopping by during the year. I’ll see you all in 2014 …
Charlotte Gray, Sebastian Faulks.
Harvest, Jim Crace.
Alex, Pierre Lemaitre.
Home Fires, Elizabeth Day.
Hammett Unwritten, Owen Fitzstephen.
Black Bear, Aly Monroe.
Bogmail, Patrick McGinley.
Bad Monkey, Carl Hiaasen.
Graveland, Alan Glynn.
A Delicate Truth, John Le Carré.
The Twelfth Department, William Ryan.
Gold Coast, Elmore Leonard.
The Little Sister, Raymond Chandler.
I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, Sylvie Simmons.
Angel City, Jon Steele.
The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith.
Tapping the Source, Kem Nunn.
In the Morning I’ll Be Gone, Adrian McKinty.
Red or Dead, David Peace.
Hide & Seek, Xan Fielding.
The Convictions of John Delahunt, Andrew Hughes.
Tampa, Alissa Nutting.
An Officer and a Spy, Robert Harris.
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen.
The Black Life, Paul Johnston.
When Eight Bells Toll, Alistair Maclean.
The Little Drummer Girl, John Le Carré.
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad.
The Stone Boy, Sophie Loubiere.
Marathon Man, William Goldman.
The Goodbye Look, Ross Macdonald.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
I’ve come across two variations on that notion in the last week or so, in Raymond Chandler’s THE LADY IN THE LAKE and Ross Macdonald’s THE GOODBYE LOOK. Chandler first:
“Nobody ever knows what anybody else will do, sister. A cop knows that much.”And Macdonald:
“That was good timing,” she said to me. “You never know what George is going to do.”All of which makes a mockery of the rule that people should always behave ‘in character’ in novels. If everyone always behaved as they should, life and fiction would be very boring indeed.
“Or anybody else.”