Monday, November 5, 2012
Review of Slaughter’s Hound by Declan Burke (Liberties Press, 2012)
Slaughter’s Hound is the sequel to Eight Ball Boogie, Burke’s first novel published in 2004. In the intervening time he’s published three other novels, the last of which, Absolute Zero Cool, was my read of 2011. Burke’s trademark as a wordsmith is in strong evidence in Slaughter’s Hound, the sense of place and characterisation is strong throughout, and the noir plot was nicely constructed. However, for me it was a book of two halves. After an excellent opening scene, the first half I found quite slow and ponderous and I struggled to get into the story. It lacked the pace, wit and action of his other work, sacrificed to in-depth characterisation and observational asides. The second half, in contrast, was excellent with dark humour, pathos, and twists and turns aplenty as it hurtled to its sinister, action-packed resolution. If the first half had been compressed into a third, then this would have been a really great read. As it stands, Slaughter’s Hound is a good, solid, noir tale, firmly rooted in North West Ireland.