Thursday 20 March 2008

A Wee Review - The Lost Chord by Tony Bailie

If you’re a capable googler like myself, you’ll find more than a few articles written by Tony Bailie, a journalist from County Down. If you’re not proficient in the subtle art of search-engineering, click here to read his piece on Rory Gallagher, an Irish rock legend.

But what is criminally underrepresented when googling Mr Bailie’s name, is the lack of web-space devoted to his debut novel, The Lost Chord, A Novel of Music and Mystery. So here’s a wee review of it.

The Lost Chord is a story told by a washed up musician called Manus Brennan who never really got his act back together after the musical frenzy that was Duil faded. This excellently named protagonist tells the story from his introduction to the band through their peak and all the way to their final downfall. in Duil, Mr Bailie has created a celtic rock band led by the charismatic Gino Morgan. The book’s plot revolves around the mystery of Gino’s disappearance after a concert in Munich. But it’s so much more than just a straight missing person’s tale.

Tony Bailie examines the world of Sex Drugs and Rock & Roll as if he’s lived it. The Lost Chord is basically a fictional autobiography of a band that is so fascinating and real, I actually wished I could listen to their music. I wanted to experience Duil’s mystical sounds and Gino’s cryptic lyrics while I read about it. I wanted to watch their videos on youtube. I would have bought their “Best Of” album. In this tragic tale, the band experiences the turmoil of a chopped and changed line up, jealousies, suspicions, narcotics, conspiracies, groupies, artistic integrity, more narcotics, failure and success. Everything you’d expect from a world-famous rock quintet. The writing is strong and the characters real and memorable.

I devoured this book and it deserves a lot more recognition than I can provide, but if you’re reading this, do yourselves a favour and buy The Lost Chord. I picked it up at Waterstones in Newry as an impulse buy, but you overseas readers can buy it online from Lagan Press. I can vouch for their trustworthiness if you haven’t heard of them. They supply a good portion of the books to the Belfast Central Library’s Belfast, Ulster and Irish Studies section, and put together many a tidy paperback.

Here's what a few other critics have said...

“The frenetic world of rock music is combined with the tranquillity of the Irish countryside to produce a remarkable debut novel by Tony Bailie.”

Irish Emigrant website

“The Lost Chord has real life echoes in the deaths of Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley and the myths suggesting they faked their own deaths and, more recently, the disappearance of Ritchie Edwards from the Manic Street Preachers. There is no doubt it will make a fantastic movie.”

Citizen magazine

“It is in characterisation the Bailie triumphs... The Lost Chord is a well-written and seemingly authentic take on the rollercoaster life of the rock musician interspersed with a tale of mystery that adds a new dimension to a well-worn theme.”

The Boston Irish Reporter

“Tony Bailie grabs the clichés of the world of rock ‘n’ roll by the horns and tames them for the benefit of his debut novel The Lost Chord. Bailie has taken all the great myths and lives of the rock’s greatest protagonists and weaved them into the fictional story of the rock band Duil.”

The Irish News

“It is an entertaining and fast-moving novel in the style of an autobiographical account of life in a successful band... [it] is an intriguing, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic look at the life of a tormented genius.”

The Mourne Observer

And rumour has it that there’ll be an interview with Mr Bailie a couple of Mondays from now.

So don’t be a stranger.


Michael Stone said...

The premise reminds me a little bit of Espedair Street by Iain Banks. And as ES is one of my all-time favourite absolute bestest novels, I might just give this Lost Chord book a whirl. Thanks for the tip.

Gerard Brennan said...

Hello Mr Stone

Glad you could join us.

Actually, my sis bought me Espedair Street for crimbo. I need to set aside a day for nothing but reading and drinking coffee. I've a few NI ones that jumped the queue so I could review them.


Declan Burke said...

A nice find, Gerard ... please direct Tony in my direction if and when you get the chance. Cheers, Dec

Gerard Brennan said...

Hi, Declan

I'll forward your email address and a glowing account of CAP when I fire up the aul laptop tonight. Access to my yahoo account is restricted from this place. Stupid dayjob gets in the way of my real work!

Thanks a million


Miss Templeton said...

Friend of mine just sent over this novel with the author's autograph. Started in on it immediately -- even threw aside that teen-vampire novel that everyone's recommended -- and I'm certainly enthralled so far!

Gerard Brennan said...

Miss Templeton - Glad you're enjoying it. I'm sure Tony will be too. Did you know he's recently launched his own blog? You'll find it here.



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