A proper detective novel grips you from the opening, drags you through the mud and rain-slick streets and makes you want to scream "Who did it? Which of these bastards did it?! What happened to that guy???!!!"
The Obituarist does all that and more. A brilliant piece in voice, structure, wit and mystery, every chapter ends with a punch in the gut moment - literally, in one case. The lead character isn't a detective - he's the titular obituarist, a specialist in cleaning up the online detritus left behind when someone dies - but he has an office in Port Virtue, a scummy little town full of low-lifes; he lives an isolated, hand-to-mouth existence, has a client who walks in the door and turns his life upside down, and a dodgy relationship with the fuzz. He also has a unique voice, an irreverence, worldview and sense of humour that belongs very much in the 21st century, even as he flawlessly evokes a genre with roots eighty years old.
That's another thing about The Obituarist: this book isn't just a gripping detective story, defining a new sub-genre I have coined "Facebook Noir". No: it's also really funny. The situations are serious, but the prose and our protagonist are both whip-smart and funny as hell.
This is different in tone and structure from O'Duffy's other work, like the brilliant Hotel Flamingo, but his voice still shines through and leaves you both satisfied and wanting more. I hope he returns to Port Virtue for another dose, 'cos I'm hooked and I'm gonna need another fix.
(reviewed 10 days after purchase)