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5.0 out of 5 stars
Bleak, Bloody, Brilliant, 14 Oct 2012
I stated in a review of Burke's first Harry Rigby novel, Eight Ball Boogie, that it had possessed an uncanny prophetic nous re an Ireland thrashing about in the throes a long, mad orgy of greed fueled by cheap loans and property speculation. Slaughter's Hound is the realisation of that first novel's prophecies; it's the bleak, bloody, morning after the night before and it's bloody brilliant to boot.
A searing portrait of a wealthy family scrabbling to make sense of how far they have fallen, Slaughter's Hound finds Harry Rigby back in Sligo, driving a taxi, muling Grade A herb and trying, trying to be some kind of a father figure to the twelve year old who may or may not be his son. After witnessing what appears to be the suicide of the wealthy Finn Hamilton, with whom he had shared a cell in Dundrum psychiatric hospital in lieu of a prison sentence, Harry is sucked into the web of violence and deceit that surrounds the Hamilton family.
As always, Burke's prose is outstanding, at once visceral, clear and laugh out loud funny in places. The laughter is grim, however, as Slaughter's Hound is a dark novel, reflective of an Ireland suffering in the aftermath of earlier excesses. The final third of this book is truly, shockingly, brutal. It's been many years since I've had to look away from a page in any crime novel and this is no bad thing. Fictionalised violence should be shocking, rather than titillating or romanticised as it is in so much modern crime fiction. Here, it is treated with the utmost seriousness. It's not easy to read but it's necessary. This is by way of recommending Slaughter's Hound in the highest terms. Brutal, but bloody brilliant.