Friday, April 14, 2006
I am roadkill.
I'm near the end of Cold Granite, by Suart MacBride, a nominee for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. For those keeping track of these things, one of the other novels nominated is a bit of comic fluff called Beneath A Panamanian Moon, written by some guy with an improbable French name.
I knew I was in trouble when, near the beginning, a prisoner is said to have been shanked and must now "crap in a wee bag." I can't compete with lines like that. Stuart is part of this new wave of UK noir writers that includes Ken Bruen, John Rickards, Al Guthrie, and Ray Banks, writers who have injected new life into dark fiction and we're all the better for it.
I plan on reading the other books in this and the Gumshoe nominations, another place where BAPM is in competition, but I doubt any of them will be more self-assured and confident than Cold Granite. It's amazing this is Stuart's first.
Stuart writes with humor, insight, and deep empathy. He juggles an assortment of sublots with remarkable ease and keeps the story rolling without feeling breathless or resorting to body count. For those of us who have walked this tightrope, we know first-hand how hard it is to keep this balance and to do it the way Stuart does, with such acrobatic grace, is a real achievement.
Without even reading the other nominees (next up is Pain Killer by Will Staeger) I can hear the truck coming down the road, bearing down on my little novel. The good news is, if the judges at ITW thought Beneath A Panamanian Moon was good enough to be considered in the same category as Cold Granite, then that is very high praise, indeed.
I have to get used to saying that.