"Black has improved with every book, and the latest, A Death in Summer, is his best yet. Reading the books leading up to this one was to watch a writer—a very skillful writer at the outset—learning the rudiments of a new genre. Sometimes you got too much information and sometimes not enough. The narratives were often less than fluid. Not this time. Black wears the formulas of his genre casually, like a trenchcoat tossed over one shoulder."
The article appears under the headline "The New Master of Noir." Black is not that, but he does evoke a noirish setting, a stifling 1950s Dublin in which suicide is not spoken of, Jews are not welcome in the best circles, and gossip rules.
He handles another crime-fiction convention less well: that of the the apparent suicide that may not be what it appears. How would a shotgun blast have lifted the victim backward from his chair and across his desk? And why doesn't the first police officer on the scene, a detective inspector by no means stupid, notice the obviously difficulty of suicide via shotgun. Maybe Black is poking fun at the convention; I think he just handles it poorly.
"One of the reasons I love doing journalism—that is, reviews and literary articles—is that I can do it quickly. It gives me a craftsman’s pleasure. Fiction doesn’t do that."Is crime writing like journalism to Banville? I'll be looking for signs of Black's craftsmanship as I read A Death in Summer.
And he pays tribute to Richard Stark and Georges Simenon here.
© Peter Rozovsky 2011