Billy Karlsson is a disgruntled hospital porter; an urban Raskolinikov; an existentialist powder keg waiting to explode. An angry young man who has hatched a plan to blow up a hospital in order to vent his revenge on the world. But there are one or two obsticles in his way, the biggest being that he isn’t real. Karlsson is, in fact, a charcter in a long-shelved, unfinished, black novel by writer Declan Burke.
And Burke really has no plans to resurrect that novel or the character of Billy Karlsson. He’s a father now. A successful writer of comic crime novels. He’s happy. The bile and the bitterness that caused him to create Karlsson have melted away in the warmth of fatherhood.
Which does not make Billy very happy at all. And so he tracks down Burke and persuades -cajoles- him to bring him back to life. And he does. And this is Absolute Zero Cool.
Absolute Zero Cool is probably an example of meta-fiction or post modernism or something or other. I really wouldn’t know about that.
What I do know is that is a very clever novel that could be annoying and smart arse in the wrong hands.
However, AZC is in the right hands. The same capable hands that created the classic comic crime double header of The Big O and Crime Always Pays. The hands of a master storyteller. And with those hands, Declan Burke has crafted an exciting, hilarious, thoughtful and moving story that will surely stand up to- and deserve-a lot of re-reading. I’ve read a lot of cracking novels this year but Absolute Zero Cool is my favorite.And it could well be yours, too.