Ireland has long been known as a country of “Saints and Scholars”, with the odd sinner or two thrown in for good measure. We also believe we have the gift of the gab as a result making out with the Blarney stone, along with every desperate tourist with a whiff of an Irish relative, somewhere in their distant past. Although its widely accepted that our ability to gabble on is inherent in our genes, without even setting foot near the fabled county Cork castle.
Having the gift of the gab, also allows the country to produce is fair share of comedians, without the ability to prattle on for ages in front of an audience, you’d be like a certain French clown. One of the more prominent of well-known Irish comedians in recent times is one Ardal O’Hanlon, who came to prominence in the Channel 4 hit Father Ted. He’s also followed in the footsteps of his co-stars and fellow comedian Graham Norton and comedienne Pauline McGlynn (Mrs Doyle) by turning his hand to writing. This months first book review is Brouhaha by Ardal O’Hanlon and published by Harper Collins ( www.corporate.harpercollins.co.uk ) on the 26th May.
When local artist Dove Connolly takes his own life, his best friend Philip Sharkey returns to their hometown of Tullyanna, from a self-imposed exile abroad, and starts asking awkward questions about Dove’s death. As well as the strange graphic novel Dove left behind and the more importantly about Sandra Mohan, who mysteriously disappeared a decade ago. Philip quickly discovers there are others in the town still looking into Sandra’s disappearance, including Kevin Healy a local Garda detective, who was retired on medical grounds and a journalist Joanne McCollum, who’s written wild speculatory pieces on the case. But Tullyanna is a town not keen on giving up its secrets and Philip’s return is also drawing attention from the wrong quarters, including those from over the border and a Local political candidate, whose party was linked to a paramilitary force in the past. Can these three unlikely bed fellows work together to decipher the graphic novel and discover the truth about Dove and Sandra, before they become another digit on the body count….
I love getting signed copies of the new books, although it doesn’t always happen, but when it does, and its from someone you admire, its even better. I’ve been a fan of Ardal’s , since his days in father Ted and his other roles in the BBC Comedy My Hero and the drama Death in Paradise. I’ve even seen him live in stand up, too. So when I got the chance to review his new book, I didn’t hesitate.
The book is brilliant, and I loved it from the first page. Its full of weird and wonderful characters, you know the ones every town has. It shows what an acute eye for detail the author has and an inane ability to read the human character, developed from years of putting together great stand-up routines.
Brouhaha is an edgy dark comedy, which does for Crime fiction what Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy, did for science fiction and space exploration. There’s a lot in there both politically and culturally, with Ardal taking a good dig at all in equal measure. While the characters are well developed and more than mere caricatures.
At a smidge over three hundred and forty pages, it wavers slightly in places, but O’Hanlon keeps the reader engaged with bouts of hilarity scattered generously throughout the book. While the mystery at the heart of story holds you till the end, aided by clues guiding our three unlikely heroes, borne out of a graphic novel which comes across as something akin to the marriage of the Book of Kells and piece of Japanese Manga. The political intrigue, which also abounds through book is handled deftly considering the minefield it was back during the tenuous early days following the Good Friday agreement.
This is Irish actor, comedian, documentary maker and writer Ardal O’Hanlon’s (@ardalsfolly) second book, his first was Talk of The Town (1998), re-titled Knick, Knack, Paddy Whack – in the US. At the time of writing, he is currently one of the contestants on Channel 4’s Taskmaster, hosted by Greg Davies. Ardal grew up in County Monaghan in Ireland, his father was a TD (MP) in the Irish parliament and a cabinet minister. Ardal now lives in Dublin with his family.
So, if you are looking for a humorous but gripping piece of crime fiction from one of the current leading lights of Irish comedy, then order a copy online or get down to your local bookshop and prepare to be amused by the talented Mr O’Hanlon.
Reviewed by Adrian Murphy
This book is part of a Random Things blog tour, to see what the other reviewers thought, visit in their blogs listed below. Then, if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.