Brendan Connell's Miss Homicide Plays the Flute was published by Eibonvale Press in October/November 2013.
Information about Brendan Connell:
Brendan Connell was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1970. He has had fiction published in numerous places, including McSweeney’s, Adbusters, and the World Fantasy Award winning anthologies Leviathan 3 (The Ministry of Whimsy 2002), and Strange Tales (Tartarus Press 2003). His published books are: The Translation of Father Torturo (Prime Books, 2005), Dr. Black and the Guerrillia (Grafitisk Press, 2005), Metrophilias (Better Non Sequitur, 2010), Unpleasant Tales (Eibonvale Press, 2010), The Life of Polycrates and Other Stories for Antiquated Children (Chomu Press, 2011), The Architect (PS Publishing, 2012) and Lives of Notorious Cooks (Chomu Press, 2012).
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Information about Miss Homicide Plays the Flute:
Serena Plievier, flautist by profession, superlative decadent by tendency, must subsidise her income with the mellow art of assassination in this romance of violence and harmony, of dull lists and extraordinary occurrences. Histories of sound and perversion are painted in Holland, Germany and Italy, in a Europe of decay that is accented by Mozart and has the court of Ludovico Sforza as backdrop. A relentless symphony of pleasantries and things unpleasant sketched with the inimitable style of a master's hand.
A REVIEW OF BRENDAN CONNELL'S MISS HOMICIDE PLAYS THE FLUTE
Brendan Connell's Miss Homicide Plays the Flute is a fantastic novel. It's a brilliant example of what can be achieved when an author has enough imagination and vision, and isn't afraid of writing something different and experimenting with different kind of storytelling.
"Ah, what an extraordinary and beautifully written novel!" was the first thing that came to my mind when I finished reading Miss Homicide Plays the Flute, because I liked what I had read. Because I've always loved weird, imaginative and twisted stories, I have to confess that I read this novel twice before I began to write this review. This novel made a huge impression on me, so I can't help but praise it as much as I can.
Brendan Connell is an author who has a distinct writing style that separates him from other authors. No matter what he writes about, he writes quality and he isn't afraid of experimenting with unusual material and combining different elements. He's an undisputed modern master of decadence and weird stories. His prose can be as sharp as shards of glass and there's underlying and seductive eroticism in his stories. If I had to describe Brendan Connell's prose and stories with only one word, the word would be "unique" (I'm sure that all the readers who read his stories will notice that they're unique and original stories).
Miss Homicide Plays the Flute is an excellent example of Brendan Connell's talents, because it's an intriguing and sophisticated combination of decadence, style and beautiful prose. It's a clever, disturbing, weird and also humorous story that will fascinate you with its strangeness.
Homicide Plays the Flute pushes the boundaries of literary fiction quite a lot, but it fits into the realm of literary fiction and surrealism. It's a bit difficult to categorize it properly, because it - just like all the other novels and collections by Brendan Connell - defies easy categorization. I categorize this novel as literary fiction with surreal and decadent elements, but I could also categorize it as experimental literary speculative fiction with strong avant-garde elements.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
Serena Plievir is a flutist. She has an expensive taste in art and she needs to pay the bills somehow, so she assassinates people and gets paid for executing the murders. Her first victim is Leslie who tries to sell a stolen painting. She executes the murder perfectly. Then she gets a contract to kill Pier, who's a 20-year-old cross-dresser. That's when things become weirder and more complex, because Serena finds herself in a complicated situation and doesn't know how to exterminate Pier. She becomes involved with Pier's family and soon Pier's mother, Gemma, becomes fascinated and attracted by her...
Brendan Connell creates an excellent and memorable vision of European culture and society and urban decay in this novel. Writing wittily about European culture and society is often difficult for several readers, but in my opinion Brendan Connell is one of the few authors who succeed in it. He also manages the difficult feat of writing fluently and fascinatingly about customs strange and peculiar without appearing to be condescending. I also have to mention that he writes boldly and unflinchingly about all things connected to sexuality. (It's truly refreshing to read a story in which all of these things are in balance.)
This novel has a wonderfully inventive structure, because there are sections (and footnotes) that describe the names of famous flute players and the types of prostitutes that were found in ancient Greece etc, and then the story continues in a normal way. These sections are truly interesting, because the author has added several details to them. The author has also written one paragraph backwards so that it needs to be viewed in the mirror - this is rare in literary novels.
The unusual structure isn't the only thing that separates this novel from other novels. This novel requires quite a lot of concentration from the readers, because it's much more complex than several other novels out there on the market. In my opinion this is great, because I love reading novels that make you think about what you're reading.
In several places the prose is charmingly poetic and lyrical, but also deliciously sharp. Brendan Connell's descriptions of the events are beautiful and they transport the reader into a true literary bliss (it isn't often that readers have a chance to read something like this, because finding this kind of descriptive prose is extremely difficult nowadays). His descriptions of the characters and their traits are wonderfully vivid, and his observations on society are as sharp as they are accurate. He easily creates a perfect atmosphere for the pleasant and unpleasant happenings.
I have to mention that I love Brendan Connell's twisted sense of humour very much, because his humour is often pitch black and he manages to surprise the reader with his nuanced humour. His humour is also fresh and playful.
Serena Plievir is an intriguing character, because she's a flutist who murders people for money. One of the things that makes her interesting is that she prefers not to kill young people (in her opinion killing young people is "miserable work"). The author wrote well about Serena's work and what she did to get close to her targets. It was interesting to read how Serena got to know Pier, Glauco and Gemma and got involved with them (I also enjoyed reading about how Serena felt about the family). The author also wrote fascinatingly about Serena's exquisite taste in fine arts and music.
I think it's possible that Nikita (played by Anne Parillaud in the film Nikita [aka La Femme Nikita]) and other famous female assassins from different movies and TV series may have been sources of inspiration for the author when he has created the character of Serena Plievir. I'm not sure if the character of Alice Morgan (played by Ruth Wilson in the British crime series Luther) has been a source of inspiration to the author, but it's possible, because the characters of Alice and Serena have a few similarities. There are of course plenty of differences, because Serena murders people in order to get money and has an expensive taste in art, but I can almost see Ruth Wilson as Serena.
Before I finish writing this review, I'll mention that the cover art by David Rix fits the story perfectly. The historical refrences are wonderful, because they add a compelling and a slightly mysterious atmosphere to the story.
In my opinion Miss Homicide Plays the Flute is a superb feast of extraordinary storytelling, seductive decadence and experimental strangeness. It's a gorgeous combination of different elements and nuances that melt together and produce a beautiful and seducing symphony of sublime pleasures and perversions to readers who appreciate reading something out of the ordinary. (By the way, if you truly want to enjoy the excellence of this novel, pour yourself a glass of wine, put a CD of classical music to your CD player and press play, sit in a comfortable chair, lean back and let yourself be seduced by the story.)
If you appreciate quality and good prose and read literary novels, do yourself a favour and read Miss Homicide Plays the Flute immediately. It's a unique novel about the art of assassination and poisoning, musical instruments and history (Brendan Connell stirs these elements into a perfect mix of strange beauty and irresistable elegance). If you like thrillers, enjoy classical music, love weird stories and are fond of decandence, you won't be disappointed by Miss Homicide Plays the Flute, because it offers all of these things and much more in an unforgettably weird package. It's a literary treasure that awaits to be discovered by as many readers as possible.