RARA-AVIS: Review of Ken Bruen's Latest

From: Jack Bludis (buildsnburns@yahoo.com)
Date: 31 Oct 2008

I thought the Rara denizens might like to take a look at this from Marilyn Stasio in this coming Sunday's New York Times:


Say you’re an Irish writer of hard-boiled crime novels and you have this character, a serial killer who strangles women with green rosary beads (“I like the color”), and you want to hide him in plain sight. What would you do with him? In ONCE WERE COPS (St. Martin’s Minotaur, $22.95), Ken Bruen, whose bullet-in-the-brain prose style is the envy of many a noir scribbler, dispatches his psycho, Matthew Patrick O’Shea, to the New York Police Department on an exchange program with the Irish Garda. O’Shea isn’t all bad — the evil lies in just one half of his split personality. The other half wants to be a good cop, and much of this bluntly brutal narrative is about his attempts to fit into a foreign environment, to learn the drill without giving away his homicidal secret or losing his national identity. (One point of honor is that he inflicts his beatings in an Irish manner — with a hurling bat.)

Language is crucial to this tense masquerade; and while O’Shea prides himself on learning the lingua franca, the more American idiom he absorbs, the more his language flattens out. Back home, his raging thoughts came out in bursts of ragged poetry, but by the end of this book he’s beginning to sound like just another smart-aleck New Yorker.

Just a service.

Jack Bludis

Lap Dance at: http://backalleywebzine.com/


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