The Devil I Know

The Devil I Know

3.56 (301 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.56 (301 ratings by Goodreads)

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In The Devil I Know, award-winning writer Claire Kilroy delivers a delicious novel, a cautionary tale of financial excess set during the Irish property bubble.

Tristram St. Lawrence has not been home for years--ever since he missed his mother's deathbed in favor of going on a bender, the thirteenth Earl of Howth is not welcome in the family castle. Now sober, he lives in self-imposed exile, and his main confidant is his sponsor, a mysterious businessman known only as M. Deauville.

One day, when his plane is unexpectedly diverted to Dublin, Tristram ends up where he started, and an old acquaintance, a bully from his school days who's now making a name in construction, pitches to Tristram an ambitious development project. The trouble is, M. Deauville thinks it's a good idea, and before Tristram knows it he's settled in Howth under his father's baleful gaze and is up to his neck in funding proposals, zoning approvals, and the personal life of his business partner.

A wry and timely skewering of a country, a man, and an entire international financial system descended into madness, The Devil I Know establishes Claire Kilroy as a vigorous and wonderful new talent.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 139.7 x 208.28 x 33.02mm | 408.23g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 080212237X
  • 9780802122377
  • 1,669,421

Review quote

Praise for The Devil I Know:

"Skewering the international financial system, with its rampant corruption and irrational exuberance, is familiar literary fodder. Yet in her savagely comic fourth novel, the Irish author Claire Kilroy does it with fresh energy, diving into the heady boom era known as the Celtic Tiger and its ignominious collapse. . . . Great fun."-- Carmela Ciuraru, The New York Times

"This young Irish writer packs a stunning worldly wisdom into her beautiful prose."-- Barbara Kingsolver, author of Flight Behavior

"[A] clever black satire."--Laura Collins-Hughes, The Boston Globe

"A darkly hilarious fable about the Irish economic boom and its implosion . . . [I was] deeply impressed by its taut storytelling and elegant style. Kilroy manages to combine ancient motifs--the Faustian bargain, even hints of a vampire lineage--with the most accurate satire of nouveau riche property developers and crooked politicians. She scores bull's eyes in every paragraph."--Emma Donoghue, author of Room, in Chatelaine (Canada)

"A brilliant satire of Ireland's boom and bust . . . The echo of [Myles na Gopaleen's] mad genius is still recognizable in Claire Kilroy's dark and fantastical comedy, The Devil I Know. . . . The greed and rampaging ambition of such avatars of 'the new Ireland' as Hickey are boundless and grotesquely funny. . . . Beyond the brilliantly phantasmagorical aspects of the novel, the dialog perfectly captures a Dublin manner of speech, the syntax and bullshittery. . . . The physical descriptions and their conceits are ingenious and of a distinctly Irish strain."--Katherine A. Powers, The Arts Fuse

"Dark, funny and wonderful . . . A shot through the heart of the Irish boom."--Anne Enright, Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Gathering

"Kilroy . . . finds in satire a medium capacious enough to allow her imagination its fullest sprawl. The plates of her plot spin ever more feverishly towards absurd calamity, but she balances perfectly the comic and the monstrous. . . . Just as impressive are the ways in which Kilroy weaves her fiction with the more outlandish realities of the Tiger years. . . . That is Kilroy's knack here: the combination of the believable fiction with the unbelievable fact. Again and again, the documented past lends itself more than willingly to the service of the hyper-real, so that by the time the plot kicks into inevitable gothic overdrive it does so with an eerie believability, leaving us in a situation completely unrealistic and, for that, completely true."-- Andrew Fox, The Daily Beast

"The Devil I Know is smart, funny and stylish, and bang up to the minute. Reading it, one squirms in appalled recognition of the extremes of greed and foolishness of our time, which Claire Kilroy portrays with devilish accuracy."--John Banville, author of the Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Sea and Ancient Light

"Kilroy's darkly comic caper draws the reader in immediately. . . Both a cautionary tale and a stylish satire, this is a diverting read."--Publishers Weekly

"Cryptic and exuberant and angry and allegorical and satirical all at once . . . Kilroy's darkly comic, clever novel keeps the reader engrossed and aghast, as chaos is piled on top of crisis, fortunes are made and lost in a trice, and the Irish madness of the times runs its course."--Patricia Craig, The Independent (UK)

"In this carnivalesque allegory of Ireland's property boom, Claire Kilroy presents a satiric danse macabre of brio and linguistic virtuosity. . . . Taps into the darkness of the finest Irish satire."--Stevie Davies, The Guardian (UK)

"Claire Kilroy is brave--and talented--enough to take a fictional stab at portraying the kind of Ireland that created and destroyed the Celtic Tiger. . . . Put[s] one in mind of Patrick McCabe's black comedies. . . . The Devil I Know is well written and fun."--Vincent Boland, Financial Times (UK)

"A cautionary tale of greed and hubris set in Ireland at the height of the 'Celtic Tiger' boom."--Shelf Awareness

"A perversely entertaining show of how easily men are corrupted by wealth . . . [Kilroy's] prose flows irresistibly from page to page . . . A pleasure to read."--Nick Brodie, Time Out (UK)

"In crisp prose and a cleverly structured narrative, Kilroy casts a sharply satiric eye on international finance gone awry. Smart fiction based on fact."--Michele Leber, Booklist

"Kilroy takes delight in literary allusions and diabolical puns, but despite the humor there's real fury in her portrayal of the casual greed, corruption and willful delusion that pervaded society 'like the pox', creating a belief in a kind of modern alchemy."--Amber Pearson, Daily Mail (UK)
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Rating details

3.56 out of 5 stars
- 301 ratings
5 17% (52)
4 40% (120)
3 29% (86)
2 10% (30)
1 4% (13)
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