Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meet Zorba the crime writer

There's no such thing as the supernatural, just phenomena and states of being outside the usual whose resistance, temporary or otherwise, to explanation induces feelings of uncanniness in characters and readers.

Stuart Neville understood this well in The Ghosts of Belfast (The Twelve in the UK). And another Northern Ireland crime writer, Anthony Quinn, understands it as well in his debut novel, Disappeared.

A retired Special Branch agent's Alzheimer's disease induces a hyper-sensitivity and heightened self-awareness that are just as creepy as and far more convincingly real than twaddle about ghosts.

A mysterious buzzing as two police officers search a hastily abandoned cottage offers further evidence that Quinn understands — and this is crucial for successful creepy scenes — that the feeling of uncanniness is wholly interior to the character. It's nothing "out there."

The book, through its first quarter, is also full of mordant wit:
"Irwin, who was at least ten years younger, represented the youth Daly fervently hoped he had left behind."
and
"Who do you think it was? The real IRA, the continuity IRA, the INLA, or the truly, madly, deeply IRA?"
Ken Bruen is an indefatigable blurbster, but I see no reason so far to suspect him of  overstatement when he says: "Line up the Edgar for best first novel. Disappeared is a major piece of work." 

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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