Scholarly works on any topic—including crime fiction—come in a vast array of styles and tones seeking out a plethora of desired reactions ranging from deep respect to grudging acknowledgement and everything in between. Often the target audience is a learned group and not the average layperson just dipping their toe in a particular subject. But when a work can bridge the gap between serving as a critical text for those studying a specific topic and existing to gently guide those only beginning a journey into the knowledge base of that same subject matter, magic can occur. This is often the domain of academic presses and the recent Syracuse University Press release of Finders: Justice, Faith, and Identity in Irish Crime Fiction by Anjili Babbar is a prime example. While certainly a deep dive into the topic, the writing style is less erudite without sacrificing its tone of authority. In other words, it can be a useful text for experts on Irish crime fiction and those fans that are simply interested in understanding how their favorite writers fit into the larger canon of their beloved genre.
There is no shortage of genre fiction to examine when exploring the contributions of Irish writers. Readers looking for a starting place on that journey might wish to pick up John Connolly’s mammoth work Shadow Voices—300 years of Irish Genre Fiction: A History in Stories. I mention Connolly here as he is one of a well curated selection of Irish crime writers on whom Anjili Babbar focuses the spotlight in Finders: Justice, Faith, and Identity in Irish Crime Fiction. Joining John Connolly are other established practitioners of “murder on the page” such as: Ken Bruen, Tana French, Adrian McKinty, Brian McGilloway, Clare McGowan, Stuart Neville, Steve Cavanagh and several others. As one can see, this is a case of looking at the best of the best, but should never be viewed as a complete and total listing of significant contributors to the field.
As with any researcher looking to discuss a topic, Anjili Babbar has various topics that are of special importance to her—or at least to this particular example of her work. Chapters in Finders: Justice, Faith, and Identity in Irish Crime Fiction deal, of course, with those items spelled out in the sub-title of the work, but Babbar gets there by analyzing such disparate issues as religious fealty, police corruption, political power struggles, and personal morals and attitudes.
Owing much to its status as an academic work, over 50 pages at the conclusion of the book are dedicated to notes, a bibliography, the index, and two appendices—one outlining the timeline of Northern Ireland’s Troubles and the other looking at Church abuses across time.
In short, Ajili Babbar’s Finders: Justice, Faith, and Identity in Irish Crime Fiction is worth a look for any crime fiction fans—particularly those interested in the works of any of the focal authors—who wish to understand how Irish “identity” manifests in works that cover the wide gamut of sub-genres and settings we get from Irish authors. It is interesting to see their influence both on each other and on the overall crime fiction genre itself.
BUY LINKS: Finders: Justice, Faith, and Identity in Irish Crime Fiction by Anjili Babbar
Disclaimer: A finished copy of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the book.