Burke was probably the first person to get me thinking that Black (who calls himself John Banville when creating art) might be something other than a condescending shit when it comes to crime writing. His interview of Banville in Down These Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century reveals the two writers' common ambition to do something different with the crime novel, and Banville comes across as almost charming, which is not always the case with him. This suggests to me that Burke and Banville are to some extent kindred spirits.
The circumstantial evidence is there. Banville says that when he adopted the Black persona, he vowed to avoid clichés. Burke says that
"you won’t find in [Absolute Zero Cool] what seems to me to have become, if I may be so bold as to make sweeping generalisations, the defining characteristic of the vast majority of contemporary crime novels, which is, however well written any book is, the simplistic pieties of some liberal sadist masquerading as an authentic exploration of modern society, but which is first and foremost designed to ring bells on cash registers."Black steers clear of clichés for the most part in A Death in Summer, which makes the occasional lapse all the more noticeable. One such mars the novel's most nervously beautiful scene so far.
The oddest coincidence, and one that may mean absolutely nothing, is that an unusually high number of scenes in both books end with "But he/she/name of character wasn't listening."
© Peter Rozovsky 2011