Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Daniel O'Malley

Dan O’Malley graduated from Michigan State University and earned a Master’s Degree in medieval history from Ohio State University. He then returned to his childhood home, Australia. He now works for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, writing press releases for government investigations of plane crashes and runaway boats.

His debut novel is The Rook.

Not so long ago I asked O’Malley what he was reading.  His reply:
I’ve always got a few books on the go, at least three – a new one, a re-read, and a research book. My current re-read is Death Before Wicket by Kerry Greenwood. Greenwood is a fellow Australian author and this is one of her books about the Hon. Phryne Fisher, a woman of style and elegance who solves murders in 1920’s Melbourne. Except that this one is set in Sydney. Now, although I am a huge fan of Phryne Fisher, I was a little wary the first time I read this because I am not a fan of cricket. It’s unpatriotic, but I can’t lie about it. I find cricket boring. However, this book is not really about cricket, and it is definitely not boring. Instead, it is about the odd characters at a university, and the period’s fascination with the occult. It features Phryne at her very best: sophisticated, merciless, and not averse to picking up the odd lover or two.

The research read is History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Volume 1: Empire of the Gazis: The Rise and Decline of the Ottoman Empire 1280-1808 which, like its title, is long and scholarly. But, it’s ideally suited to what I’m interested in. The author, Stanford J. Shaw, has given the reader an extremely good description of the Ottoman Empire. If you want to know how the empire came to be (and I do), this book gives you an excellent narrative, showing the big picture. However, if you want to know the nuances and peculiarities of life in Topkapi Palace (and I want that as well), this book shares all the little details. Terrifically useful.

My latest acquisition is From the Deep of the Dark by Stephen Hunt. Now, I’m only sixty-some pages into this one, and normally I would hesitate to comment, since I’m still getting the taste of it. However, this is the sixth book in Hunt’s Jackellian series, and so I can spout its praises without any hesitation. The Jackellian books are characterized by having ten thousand ideas crammed into them, any one of which could make a book by itself. Overall, I suppose you could characterise them as steampunk, but it’s steampunk with artificial intelligence, fairy-created mutants, genetic manipulation, sorcery, and pneumatic buildings. This one has a heroine whom I already like, and the promise of some claustrophobic terrors under the sea. I was home ill today, feeling so bad that I couldn’t concentrate even on a book this good. But any Jackellian novel is worth faking being sick to stay home and read it – if your supervisor doesn’t read your website.
Visit Daniel O'Malley's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue