Review: Stumped by Rob Kitchin

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

280 Steps, 2014. eBook edition. eISBN: 978-82-93326-30-4. 

I should start thanking Rob Kitchin his kindness for offering me, in the event it could be of my interest, to send me an Uncorrected Advance Reading Copy of his latest book, Stumped. I did not wanted to pass this opportunity, after reading and enjoying his three previous novels. See my reviews here, here and here. But I would like to apologize for not having had the opportunity to finish my review before its publishing date.

https://i2.wp.com/280steps.com/static/img/covers_full/stumped.jpgOne Friday evening a large group of staff and students have gathered in a pub, after a talk at a small but old institution near Dublin, Maynooth University. When Mary and Grant are the only ones left, Grant gets a phone call from Sinead with whom he shares a flat. Sinead is afraid that one of her students is stalking her. A guy named Finbar has followed her home. He’s still outside hanging around. She would like  someone to escort her to the pub where Pat is expecting her within half an hour. Mary insists on accompanying him. When they get home, Sinead is nowhere to be found. Instead, there’s a note with a severed finger addressed to Pat. Sinead has been taken hostage. She will be freed when they have their package back. Until then they’ll send a finger a day to demonstrate the seriousness of their threat. If they warn the guards, she’ll be killed. Pat will know how to reach him. Neither Mary, nor Grant know what this is about. To make matters worse, Mary is confined to a wheelchair and Grant has recently arrived from England, but they are both determined to find Sinead. Grant can’t think in any other Pat than in Sinead’s brother, Patrick who is gay and lives in Dublin, but Pat is not at his home. And they decide to begin his search through Dublin’s gay circles. The following morning, they receive a second finger. Now, it’s more urgent that ever to find Pat. Mary believes that once he knows that Sinead’s in danger, he’ll understand and hand back whatever he has. But things won’t be easy. To help them find Pat, they turn to Declan, Mary’s brother in law, who is also gay. But then, the body of someone they had visited previously, appears floating in the River Liffey, and Inspector McGerrity will soon be behind their steps.  

Stumped is the fourth novel by Prof Rob Kitchin and his second screwball noir after Stiffed, a very attractive genre in my opinion of which Stumped is a great example. I have really enjoyed its reading. It has a dizzying pace, and although the book is action driven, the characters are fully developed. The reader will find many more elements that the ones I’ve described above. The story takes place mainly in Dublin and in the Irish countryside with a brief incursion into Manchester and has a nice sense of place. I must acknowledge that Kitchin has never ceased to amaze me while I was reading this book. It can be said that until the end, I wasn’t able to anticipate its outcome. All in all it’s a delicious black comedy, sometimes delirious in a positive sense, but always full of highly entertaining situations. The story, told from multiple points of view, is mainly about friendship and how this sentiment gets stronger when faced with adversity. I highly recommended.

My rating: A (I loved it)

Prof. Rob Kitchin is a professor at the National University of Ireland Maynooth (read more here) and the author of the crime novels Stiffed, The White Gallows, The Rule Book and two collections of short stories. He has had a number of short stories in various outlets including A Twist of Noir, All Due Respect, Close to the Bone, Flash Fiction Offensive, Laughter Shack, Powder Burn Flash, Shotgun Honey, and Spinetingler.  Every Saturday he publishes a drabble (a story of exactly 100 words) on The View from the Blue House, his crime fiction blog. Do not fail to pay a visit to his blog, if you haven’t done it yet.

Stumped has been reviewed on Euro Crime (Rich) and on Col’s Criminal Library (Col)

280 Steps 

Twenty Questions With Rob Kitchin

Stumped (en español: paralizado o perplejo) de Rob Kitchin

Debo empezar agradeciendo a Rob Kitchin su amabilidad por ofrecerme, en caso de que pudiera ser de mi interés, enviarme una Copia Anticipada de Lectura No Corregida de su último libro, Stumped. No quise pasar esta oportunidad, después de leer y disfrutar sus tres novelas anteriores. Ver mis comentarios aquí, aquí y aquí. Pero me gustaría pedir disculpas por no haber tenido la oportunidad de terminar mi reseña antes de la fecha de su publicación.

Un viernes por la tarde un gran grupo de profesores y de estudiantes se han reunido en un pub tras una charla en una institución pequeña pero antigua cerca de Dublín, la Universidad de Maynooth. Cuando Mary y Grant son los únicos que quedan, Grant recibe una llamada telefónica de Sinead con quien comparte un piso. Sinead tiene miedo de que uno de sus alumnos la esté acechando. Un tipo llamado Finbar le ha seguido hasta su casa. Está todavía fuera dando vueltas. A ella le gustaría que alguien le acompañara al pub donde Pat la espera en menos de media hora. Mary insiste en acompañarle. Cuando llegan a casa, Sinead no aparece por ninguna parte. En su lugar, hay una nota con un dedo cortado dirigida a Pat. Sinead ha sido tomada como rehén. Ella será liberada cuando les devuelvan un paquete. Hasta entonces van a enviar un dedo al día para demostrar lo serio de su amenaza. Si avisan a la policía, la matarán. Pat sabrá cómo llegar a él. Ni Mary, ni de Grant saben de qué se trata. Para empeorar las cosas, Mary está confinada en una silla de ruedas y Grant ha llegado recientemente de Inglaterra, pero ambos están decididos a encontrar a Sinead. Grant no puede pensar en ningún otro Pat que en el hermano de Sinead, Patrick que es gay y vive en Dublín, pero Pat no está en su casa. Y deciden comenzar su búsqueda en los círculos gay de Dublín. A la mañana siguiente, reciben un segundo dedo. Ahora, es más urgente que nunca encontrar a Pat. Mary cree que una vez que sepa que Sinead está en peligro, lo entenderá y devolverá lo que sea que tenga. Pero las cosas no sreán fáciles. Para ayudarles a encontrar Pat, recurren a Declan, el cuñado de Mary que también es gay. Pero entonces, el cuerpo de alguien a quien habian visitado anteriormente, aparece flotando en el río Liffey, y el inspector McGerrity pronto estará tras sus pasos.

Stumped es la cuarta novela del Prof. Rob Kitchin y su segunda “screwball noir” tras Stiffed, un género muy atractivo en mi opinión del que Stumped es un magnífico ejemplo. Realmente he disfrutado de su lectura. Tiene un ritmo vertiginoso, y aunque el libro está impulsado por la acción, los personajes están completamente desarrollados. El lector encontrará muchos más elementos que los que yo he descrito anteriormente. La historia se desarrolla principalmente en Dublín y en la campiña irlandesa con una breve incursión en Manchester, y cuenta con un buen sentido del lugar. Debo reconocer que Kitchin nunca ha dejado de sorprenderme mientras yo estaba leyendo este libro. Se puede decir que hasta el final, no fui capaz de anticipar su resultado. En suma una deliciosa comedia de humor negro, a veces delirante en un sentido positivo, pero siempre llena de situaciones muy entretenidas. La historia, contada desde múltiples puntos de vista, trata principalmente de la amistad y de cómo este sentimiento se hace más fuerte cuando se enfrenta a la adversidad. Lo recomiendo encarecidamente.

Mi valoración: A (me encantó)

El Prof. Rob Kitchin trabaja en la Universidad Nacional de Irlanda, Maynooth y es autor de las novelas negras Stiffed, The White Gallows, The Rule Book y de dos colecciones de relatos. Tiene publicadas varias historias cortas en diversas publicaciones, incluyendo A Twist of Noir, All Due Respect, Close to the Bone, Flash Fiction Offensive, Laughter Shack, Powder Burn Flash, Shotgun Honey, y Spinetingler. Todos los sábados publica un “drabble” (una historia de exactamente 100 palabras) en su blog de novela negra The View from the Blue House. No deje de hacer una visita a su blog, si no lo ha hecho aún.

Disponible en Amazon.es

Review: Stiffed by Rob Kitchin

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Snubnose Press (2013). Kindle Edition. 393 KB. ASIN: B00CO9U4ZG

https://i2.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41vDtiAkjcL._SY380_.jpg

Maybe I should start by saying that I received this book from Rob Kitchin. Rob, besides his profession in academia, is a writer, a blogger and a great crime fiction aficionado. His blog The View from the Blue House is an excellent source of new and interesting crime fiction books. You can find my reviews of two of his previous books HERE and HERE.

Tadhg Maguire arrives home one night, slightly more drunk than he thought. When he gets into his bed, Kate, his girlfriend, remains wrapped in the duvet without uttering a single word, at least that’s what he thinks. They’ve been together for seven months, lately, only bicker. Before dawn, Tadhg wakes up suddenly and finds Kate screaming at the foot of his bed. There is another man in the bed. A naked man. With a hairy back. All covered in blood. A dead man. When he finally reacts. Kate is gone. The dead man turns out to be Toni Marino, Aldo Pirelli’s right hand man. Pirelli is the local boss of organized crime in this small New England town of barely 35,000 inhabitants. Tadhg works for the local newspaper, The Spring Times. He has been covering all kinds of social events for the last five years.

The right thing to do would be to wait until the police arrive. The sensible thing would be to go away and disappear forever. The only remaining option is to dispose of the body pretending it has never been there. No body, no crime. Problem solved. Life goes on.

To help him getting rid of the body, Tadhg calls his best friend since he arrived to America from a small Irish town when he was fourteen, Jason Choi. Jason is a second-generation Korean who weighs 350 pounds. But Tadhg’s problems won’t end up there. A second body appears, and  Annabelle Levy, another former school mate, also shows up. She’s is mixed race – white Jewish father, black mother. She’s intelligent, beautiful and pissed off with the whole world. To get rid of the two bodies they need a van. Here is where Paavo Poukkanes, another old school pal, comes into play. And then an unknown man shows up and demands a million dollars that belong to him. or so he claims. For some reason, he thinks that Jadhg has the money. Following a series of crazy races Tadhg will become the most wanted man in America. He may end up in prison without even knowing what’s up. But first he is determined to rescue his friends who have been kidnapped.

Thanks to this book I have come to discover a new subgenre, at least to me, ‘screwball noir’. A combination of two film genres, the screwball comedy and the film noir, that  can be applied to any other artistic expression. The name was first coined in the nineties. In Spain a pioneer in this genre is Pedro Almodovar with his film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, 1988. (Spanish title: Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios).

Stiffed is a farce, a crazy comedy and a black tale written in a humorous tone. As such, some essential features are: an amateur detective, a ‘femme fatale’ and a dizzying action full of ridiculous but funny situations. It’s also an easy and enjoyable read. For some it may be irrelevant, I disagree. Above all, it’s nicely written. The plot is interesting and well structured, and the characters are very attractive. Tadhg and his friends will be hard to forget. And, who knows, maybe we can see them again one day. A highly recommended reading..  

My rating: 4/5.

You can buy Stiffed as:
an ebook: Amazon US and Amazon UK and Amazon.ES
a paperback: Amazon US and Amazon UK and Amanzo.ES

For some additional information and reviews please visit: Spinetingler magazine, Pattinase, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, and International Noir Fiction.

Stiffed (Engañado) por Rob Kitchin

Tal vez debería empezar diciendo que recibí este libro de Rob Kitchin. Rob, además de su profesión en el ámbito académico, es un escritor, un bloguero  y un gran aficionado a la novela negra. Su blog The View from the Blue House es una excelente fuente de nuevos e interesantes libros de ficción criminal. Mis reseñas de dos de sus libros anteriores están AQUÍ y AQUÍ.

Tadhg Maguire llega a casa una noche, un poco más borracho de lo que pensaba. Cuando se mete en su cama, Kate, su novia, permanece envuelta en el edredón sin pronunciar una sola palabra, al menos eso es lo que él piensa. Llevan juntos siete meses, últimamente, sólo discuten. Antes del amanecer, Tadhg despierta repentinamente y encuentra a Kate gritando a los pies de su cama. Hay otro hombre en la cama. Un hombre desnudo. Con una espalda peluda. Todo cubierto de sangre. Un hombre muerto. Cuando por fin reacciona. Kate se ha marchado. El muerto resulta ser Toni Marino, la mano derecha de Aldo Pirelli. Pirelli es el jefe local del crimen organizado en esta pequeña ciudad de Nueva Inglaterra de apenas 35.000 habitantes. Tadhg trabaja para el periódico local, The Spring Times. Él ha estado cubriendo todo tipo de eventos sociales durante los últimos cinco años.

Lo correcto sería esperar a que llegue la policía. Lo más sensato sería marcharse y desaparecer para siempre. La única opción restantes es deshacerse del cuerpo y pretender que nunca ha estado allí. Sin cuerpo, no hay crimen. Problema resuelto. La vida sigue.

Para ayudarle a deshacerse del cuerpo, Tadhg llama a su mejor amigo desde que llegó a Estados Unidos procedente de un pequeño pueblo irlandés cuando tenía catorce años, Jason Choi. Jason es un coreano de segunda generación que pesa 350 libras. Pero los problemas de Tadhg no terminarán allí. Un segundo cuerpo aparece, y Annabelle Levy, otra ex compañera del colegio, también aparece. Ella es mestiza, hija de padre judío blanco y de madre negra. Ella es inteligente, guapa y cabreada con todo el mundo. Para deshacerse de los dos cuerpos necesitan una furgoneta. Aquí es donde Paavo Poukkanes, otro viejo amigo del colegio, entra en juego. Y entonces un desconocido aparece y reclama un millón de dólares que le pertenecen, o al menos eso dice. Por alguna razón, piensa que Jadhg tiene el dinero. Tras una serie de carreras locas Tadhg se convertirá en el hombre más buscado de América. Él puede terminar en la cárcel sin saber lo que pasa. Pero primero está decidido a rescatar a sus amigos que han sido secuestrados.

Gracias a este libro he llegado a descubir un nuevo subgénero, al menos para mí, llamado ‘screwball noir’. Una combinación de dos géneros cinematográficos, la comedia excéntrica y el cine negro, que se puede aplicar a cualquier otra expresión artística. El nombre fue acuñado por primera vez en los años noventa. En España, uno de los pioneros en este género es Pedro Almodóvar con su película Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios, 1988.

Stiffed es una farsa, una comedia loca y un relato negro escrito en clave de humor. Como tal, algunas características esenciales son un detective aficionado, una ‘femme fatale’ y una acción vertiginosa llena de situaciones ridículas pero divertidas. También es una lectura fácil y amena. Para algunos puede resultar irrelevante, no estoy de acuerdo. Por encima de todo, está muy bien escrita. La trama es interesante y está bien estructurada, y los personajes resultan muy atractivos. Tadhg y sus amigos serán difíciles de olvidar. Y, quién sabe, tal vez podamos verlos de nuevo algún día. Una lectura muy recomendable.

Mi califiación: 4/5.

The White Gallows by Rob Kitchin

WhiteGallowscover Rob Kitchin. The White Gallows. IndePenPress 2010. 324 pages. ISBN: 978-1-907499-37-1 .

My special thanks to the author for sending me a signed copy of this book.  

An unidentified body has been found Near Trim Castle. A young man, maybe a Lithuanian immigrant, has been beaten to death, probably stabbed. At the crime scene DS Colm McEvoy from the NBCI, the branch of the Gardai that investigates the country’s most serious crimes, is in badly need of a decent night sleep. His insomnia has increased after the killing spree of the Raven six months earlier (see my post on The Rule Book here) besides he has several other active cases.

As a consequence of the economic downturn recruitment and promotion in the public sector has been suspended, the NBCI is no exception. Senior officers are being encouraged to take early retirement without replacement and contract staff is being laid off at the end of their terms.

And the murder rate in Ireland is soaring. On that very same day another immigrant, Albert Koch, has been found dead asleep. The doctor claim he died from natural cases but a local garda casts some doubts, his head has been bashed and the body moved. An overstressed McEvoy is sent to investigate. Koch was one of the wealthiest men in Ireland and founder of Ostara Industries, the biggest employer of miles around. Soon the investigation raises questions about Koch’s past, his possible participation in the Holocaust and the obscure origin of his fortune.

Within the course of a week we will be following McEvoy. Besides his insomnia he doesn’t eat well and his private life is not easy either. While he is still mourning his wife a year after her death, he feels guilty for not taking proper care of his twelve-year-old daughter. He is also struggling to give up smoking what makes him often irritable. A close woman colleague has been severely wounded and he finds himself sexually attracted to another one. On top of that his relationship with his boss is not easy to say the least, the local police officials are being unhelpful and the rich and influential Koch family is uncooperative.

The White Gallows is the second novel of Rob Kitchin featuring DS Colm McEvoy. It is an amazing police procedure with a great sense of place. The plot evolves at a right pace and Kitchin masterfully draws very real and human characters. We can easily identify with McEvoy, share his emotions and feel his frustrations. The story is complex but the pieces finally fit together. I enjoyed reading it thoroughly. A highly recommended novel and I’m looking forward to read his third book in the series.

Author’s website.

Indepenpress.co.uk.

Rob Kitchin blogs at The View from the Blue House.

The White Gallows has been reviewed by Reactions to Reading, DJs Krimiblog, Kittling Books, International Noir Fiction, Mack Captures Crime, Crime Scraps, Mysteries in Paradise, You Would Say That, Wouldn’t You?

The Rule Book by Rob Kitchin

THE RULE BOOK Rob Kitchin. The Rule Book. Pen Press. 2009. 353 p. ISBN: 978-1-906710-57-6.

At the crime scene we find Detective Superintendent Colm McEvoy of the NBCI (National Bureau of Criminal Investigation), the branch of the gardai in charge of Ireland’s most serious crimes including murder and organised crime. McEvoy is struggling to quit smoking, he lost his wife of cancer recently and has to take care of his twelve years old daughter. He has lost as well two stone in weight and his suits are ill fitting.

The victim is a young woman, almost a girl. She was part of a homeless group from Dublin at a Centre in Glencree, miles away from anywhere. It seems she has been forced to swallow a sword with no signs of fight or sexual assault. But the killer has left a note with chapter one of The Rule Book, a self-help guide for serial killers with the picture of a crow or a raven which confirms that the crime has been carefully planned.

Less than twenty four hours later another victim is found in Maynooth together with the second chapter of The Rules and the media give the murderer the nickname of The Raven. And when a third body is discovered at Phoenix Park it seems clear now that The Raven is planning to kill a victim a day until The Rule Book is finally published. With increasing pressure from his superiors and the media, McEvoy chases a killer that seems to be several steps ahead.

The book, written in the third person, follows the main character but there are also scenes in which the murderer and his methods are shown. The title is a clear reference to the book whose chapters, written by the murderer, are left on each crime scene. The cover shows the statue of radical labour leader, Jim Larkin, his hands left aloft, behind him the spire rising up through them. We are in Dublin but if you want to know more you better read it in the book.

The plot follows a chronological order and it is structured in chapters, one for each day. It begins on Monday, April 14th until Monday, April 21st and it has an epilogue on Friday 25th. Each chapter has several sections from a few lines up to three pages in some cases. The style used is pretty much informal, and it has a great sense of the place. If any objection can be made is that the style is at times a bit repetitive.

This is a police procedural which focuses mainly in the daily work of the crime investigators, their internal quarrels, their difficult relationship with the media, the political implications of the case, the personal history of the main character topped up with a few references to Ireland and its history which I found very interesting. It has some great secondary characters like the state pathologist Professor Elaine Jone and a Scottish profiler Kathy Jacobs. And both, Charlie Deegan an ambitious detective and Detective Chief Superintended Tony Bishop, are used effectively to create some tension.

Actually I very much enjoyed reading this clever and credible book. It has a real and interesting main character. The plot is nicely developed and it keeps my interest until the last page. A very entertaining reading. I look forward to read his next book where I expect to meet some of this characters again.

Prof. Rob Kitchin, Director of NIRSA works at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. His research interest focus on social and cultural geography, in particular issues of disability, sexuality, cyberspace. He has published some 17 non-fiction books to date. The Rule Book (2009) is his debut novel. His second novel The White Gallows will be released on June 12th, 2010.

The Rule Book was reviewed by Critical Mick; International Noir Fiction; Crime Scraps; Djs Krimiblog; Kitlling: Books; Reactions to Reading; Mack Lundy and others at amazon.co.uk.

Interviews with Rob Kitchin at Crime Always Pays, Crime Scene NI and Crime Watch.

Rob Kitchin official website.

Rob Kitchin blogs at http://theviewfromthebluehouse.blogspot.com/

Currently Reading: The Rule Book by Rob Kitchin

THE RULE BOOK

I’ve just finished reading La mujer de verde by Arnaldur Indridason (English title Silence of the Grave). And when I opened the post today I found Rob Kitchin’s The Rule Book. I cannot wait to start reading it.

Synopsis: April in the Wicklow mountains and a young woman is found dead, seemingly sacrificed. Accompanying her body is Chapter One of “The Rule Book” – a self-help guide for serial killers. The case is assigned to the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation and headed by Detective Superintendent Colm McEvoy. Since the recent death of his wife, McEvoy is a shadow of his former self – two stones lighter with a wardrobe of ill-fitting suits, struggling to quite the cigarettes that killed his wife, and still getting used to being a single parent. Less than twenty-four hours later a second murder is committed. Self-claiming the title ‘The Raven’, the killer starts to taunt the police and the media. When the third body is discovered it is clear that The Raven intends to slaughter one victim each day until “The Rule Book” is published in full. With the pressure from his superiors, the press, and politicians rising, McEvoy goes after a killer that is seemingly several steps ahead.

Is the “Rule Book” as definitive as The Raven claims?

Rob Kitchin works at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth where he directs a research institute. He has published 17 non-fiction books to date. The Rule Book is his first novel. Kitchin’s second novel The White Gallows will be release on June 12, 2010.

The Rule Book has been reviewed, among others, by: International Noir Fiction, DJS Krimiblog, Reactions to Reading, Kittling Books. Crime Scraps, and Crime Watch is also currently reading.

9mm: An interview with Rob Kitchin

Amazon UK

Rob Kitchin Website

Rob Kitchin blog The View from the Blue House