THERE’S NO BROUHAHA ABOUT O’HANLON’S SECOND BOOK, ITS BROUHILLIANT

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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.

Ardal O’Hanlon (The Scotsman)

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.

ONCE AGAIN, MOGGACH PROVES YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD TO HAVE FUN IN A BLACK DRESS.

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We read These Foolish Things with our bookclub a few years back and the following Christmas, we watched the movie. It was our Christmas tradition to watch the film version of one of the books we’d enjoyed that year. Other years we watched The Help, after reading the book by Kathryn Stockett and The Dead, following from the story of the same name by James Joyce. Usually, it was fun to see the characters brought to life and the plot twists occur as expected on the screen. This wasn’t the case with The Best Marigold Hotel, the film which is based on the book. In general, the storyline is vastly different, but the great characters developed by Deborah Moggach had been used. So I was delighted to get the opportunity to read her latest book for this months first review. Its The Black Dress published by Headline Review (www.headline.co.uk ) 22nd July

When Pru’s husband walks out on their seemingly rock solid marriage, she’s distraught. More over from the shock of the break up and the loss of the life they had, than him leaving. Still reeling from the bombshell, she goes off to a friends funeral, the hymns are the same, words of praise. But the eulogy is different, not the person she knew… She’s gone to the wrong funeral. Everyone is very welcoming, its quite hilarious actually. and more fun than she’s had in ages. So Pru buys a Little Black Dress in a charity shop and goes to another funeral and another. People don’t want to make scenes at a funeral, what harm can it, or will it…

I approached reading Deborah Moggach’s new release, The Black Dress, anticipating another great cast of characters, but maybe not a lot happening. There is a fine but small cast of characters, however, we mainly follow the life and thoughts of Pru. 

Lots of things do happen in this book. Deborah Moggach really throws the kitchen sink at this drama in terms of plot twists and turns. Sometimes several things at once, so you can understand why Pru is overwhelmed with all the changes to her reality. There are lots of surprises and a good dash of dark humour. I’ve just read the Thursday Murder club, by Richard Osman. There, I loved the character of Joyce, with her constant eye out for lonely men and her wry wit. I thought Pru was going to be of similar ilk. However, Pru is a bit less resilient and bit more whiney. She reminded me of the Liz Jones column in the Saturday Independent, which I refer to as ‘Liz Jones Moans’ so I guess, personally, I found Pru a little harder to like. She may well sit better with other readers. This didn’t take too much way from my enjoyment of the writing. The story is funny and the scenarios farcical but believable. There is some pathos there too. The characters show their vulnerability and humanness.

Deborah Moggach

This English author Deborah Moggach’s (www.deborahmoggach.com) twentieth book The others include, You Must Be Sisters (1978), A Quiet Drink (1980), Porky (198383), Driving In The Dark (1988), These Foolish Things (2004) on Which The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ,was based, and The Carer (2019). She’s also written two collections of Short Stories – Smile and Other Stories (1987), Changing babies and Other Stories (1995). On top of that she’s written two screen plays Pride & Prejudice(2005) Starring Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen, and Tulip Fever (2017). She she currently divides her time between Wales and London.

I’d recommend this book to fellow ladies of a certain age, who have a naughty twinkle in their eye, an open mind and a good sense of humour, but sadly I wasn’t cheering for Pru in the same way as I was for Evelyn in These Foolish Things.

Reviewed by: Georgina Murphy

This review is part of a random things blog tour, to see what the others thought the book visit their blogs listed below. Then if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. we’d really appreciate the feedback.