Monday, 31 October 2011

Book of the Week and UK Bibliography - William Ryan, The Bloody Meadow

I like to support Irish authors were possible, and this week's choice is The Bloody Meadow, the second novel by William Ryan to feature Aleksei Korolev, a detective Working for the Moscow Criminal Investigation Division in 1930s Russia. It follows on from The Holy Thief which was very well reviewed and shortlisted for a number of crime fiction awards. The Bloody Meadow could be read as a stand-alone novel, but I would recommend that a reader starts with The Holy Thief, as it provided some of Korolev's background; he continues to grow as a character through the second novel. The books are supported by a very fine website.

I think I can claim Ryan as Irish, for though some interviews indicate that he was born in London both of his parents are from Limerick – his father was an artist and poet, his mother an architect. His parents separated, and though he grew up in Limerick, he spent a lot of time in London, California and Saudi Arabia. He went to St Gerard’s in Bray and Glenstal Abbey in Limerick, then “stumbled” into law at Trinity College. When he graduated, he did what many self-respecting young Irish job-seekers did in the 1980s – he bought a one-way ticket to London, where he quickly found gainful employment, not as a barman or a brickie, but as a barrister. Now he is a full-time writer.

Both of his books have been set in Stalin’s Russia, and display a strong knowledge of the historical period and the ability to convey the atmosphere of living in an oppressive society. Having read both, I think that they are distinctly superior examples of detective fiction and that Ryan is a writer with considerable promise. If you look around, signed copies of both can be picked up at close to cost and represent a very good investment as well as a good read.


The Holy Thief, MacMillan, 2010
The Bloody Meadowm, MacMillan, 2011

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