Finding Solace in 2013

I envy people who fly through books, devouring them in digestion-inducing feasts. SolaceSome clock up a small library in a year. I’m a slow reader, I am. Part of the problem with this is that novels need to be read consistently and in large helpings to appreciate them fully. That caveat aside, here are the books I read in 2013. Funnily enough, the one I thought was my book of the year I didn’t do a review of….

First off was Broken Harbour, by Tana French, which, the more I look back on, I read way too slowly. During it I re-read some of Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales after The Hobbit movie came out. The way you do.

I really liked Broken Harbour, but would have even more if I read it faster. The descriptions and emotional power of the writing are what stayed with me most. Full review here

I never got to read John McGahern over the years, but one day, browsing in a second-hand book shop, the striking cover of The Dark kind-of grabbed me. A brilliant read, although difficult at times, not because of the style (which is envy-inducing), but the content. Click here for more

I really enjoyed Louise Phillip’s debut, Red Ribbons. I flew through it. She places a huge emphasis on pace and emotional punch. I also read her spooky follow-up, The Doll’s House, later in the year, and enjoyed that too. Some reviewers rated that better than Red Ribbons and it did go on to win the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year, but for me, mainly because of one of the main characters in Red Ribbons, I thought it was even better. For more

I’m not sure which crime fiction book I preferred more this year – Red Ribbons or Crocodile Tears by Mark O’Sullivan. Like Tana French, I loved this author’s descriptive abilities and I enjoyed his main character as well as the plot. Looking forward to more from him. My thoughts

This next one, a slim fella, was a cracker. But most of you already know how good the award-winning The Spinning Heart is, so no need to say that much. But here’s my review

It’s hard to think what might better Donal Ryan’s debut. spinning heartBut, for me, Belinda McKeon nips it at the line, just, with Solace, a book published a few years ago.

It was so good I never even did a review! Not sure what that means. Maybe I was busy writing at the time (yes, that small matter). It was beautifully written, with engrossing main characters and a great plot. I still remember the power of the writing, particularly in relation to the dad and the bang (literally) in the middle of the book, and its aftermath.


About Cormac O'Keeffe

I've written a novel. And, it's going to be published. This April. Mad, or what? It's entitled 'Black Water' and is a crime novel set in Dublin's gangland, along the evocative Grand Canal. This blog is about that bumpy journey, which is about to get really exciting. You'll also find some photography on this blog, particularly snaps that relate to my novel, much of it centred along the canal. There are also some reviews, both fiction and non-fiction, many of them published in the Irish Examiner, a daily national newspaper in Ireland. I work as security correspondent there and have specialist interests in crime, drugs, policing, the justice system, communities and human rights. Both my personal life and my professional life have fed into my novel, or, rather, have been poured into it. My novel was granted a literature bursary by the Irish Arts Council in September 2014 and my journalistic work has won multiple awards from the Law Society of Ireland over many years, most recently in 2015.
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5 Responses to Finding Solace in 2013

  1. A good list there for sure. I have Solace, but have yet to read it. I’ll be dusting it off shortly after your review!

  2. Susan Condon says:

    Enjoyed your post, Cormac – reminded me of some of the great reads of 2013 – especially, for me, Broken Harbour, The Doll’s House and Crocodile Tears . . .

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