I have recently finished what I confidently predict to be one of my best reads of the year, if not the best. It is Winterland, by Alan Glynn (Faber). A proof of the book was very kindly given to me by Karen of Euro Crime and my review has been duly submitted. It is one of those books that is hard to review without giving away a spoiler because the events in the opening few chapters kick-start the action in a way I'm glad I could work out for myself. My review will not contain any spoilers, of course. In the meantime, before the review is published, I thought I'd provide a few excerpts from other reviews of the book, devoid of any spoilers – but if you click through to read most of these reviews, you might well find out a bit too much about the book if you have not read it yet. (And if you haven't, I highly recommend that you do! It is a fantastic book and I certainly had the same experience while reading it as described by Glenn Harper in the extract from his review below).
Reviewing the Evidence: It's one of those books that immerses you from the start. Glynn tells his story in the present tense – and usually I'm fairly cynical about writers using this technique, as it often jars and seems overly precious. In this case, though, it gives the book an immediacy and makes you feel you're at Gina Rafferty's side all through (Sharon Wheeler).
Reading Matters: I love Irish literary fiction and I'm quite partial to the odd crime novel, so when I first heard that Alan Glynn's Winterland was described as "Dublin noir" I knew I'd probably enjoy it. I was right. This is a cracking story, brilliantly told and incredibly entertaining, and I bet it won't take long before the film rights are sold and we see it on the big, or possibly little, screen some time soon (Kimbofo).
Observer: He [Glynn] has conjured the unreal, transfigured character of Ireland's capital, with its claustrophobic nexus of shady politicians, corrupt property speculators and IRA-turned-"security professionals", as well as its yuppies, its thugs and its drab, lifeless, suburbs where housewives drink vodka and Coke. It's a portrait not too far off the real place, but exaggerated enough to make this an enthralling and addictive read (Mary Fitzgerald).
Independent: Although the credit crunch is causing the odd hiccup, the city of Dublin maintains its frenzy of property development. Walk through such areas as James Joyce's "Nighttown", and the working girls may still be there, but cranes now loom above the narrow streets, preparing the way for wine bars, coffee shops and upscale couture houses. But Dublin's basic identity seems to remain inviolable – and it is this struggle between the old and the new that powers some of the most provocative fiction in Ireland today. Interestingly, as Alan Glynn's Winterland comprehensively proves, it's crime fiction that throws up some of the most incisive evocations of this protean city (Barry Forshaw).
International Noir Fiction: It's a big, complex book handled by Glynn with grace and with considerable tension and forward motion (warning: this book is a compulsive reading experience once the story gets cranked up–you may want to set aside some time because you won't want to put it down, particularly at some key points starting from about halfway through). Threads of the novel lead to several endings, with a few hanging on beyond the end of the physical book (Glenn Harper).
Winterland is Alan Glynn's second book. The first, The Dark Fields, is being made into a film. There is a quote from reviewer and author Douglas Kennedy at Amazon: 'Alan Glynn's THE DARK FIELDS is that rare thing – a first novel of such great stylistic assurance and narrative energy that you immediately realize you're in the hands of a born storyteller. More tellingly, this dark, corrosive story of designer pharmaceuticals and high finance is a trenchant morality tale for our manic, avaricious times. This is a wild, compulsive ride into the greedy vortex of modern life. It is also an astonishing debut' – Douglas Kennedy.