“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Event: TROUBLE IS OUR BUSINESS at the Belfast Book Festival

I’m hugely looking forward to getting up to Belfast for the Book Festival on June 10th, where I’ll be hosting a conversation between three of the finest Irish crime writers out there, and who – no coincidence – contributed to TROUBLE IS OUR BUSINESS (New Island Books). To wit:
BBF17: TROUBLE IS OUR BUSINESS - NEW STORIES BY IRISH CRIME WRITERS

Saturday 10 June at 2pm
£6 | £4
at the Crescent Arts Centre


Irish crime writers have long been established on the international stage as bestsellers and award winners. Now, for the first time ever, the best in contemporary Irish crime novelists have been brought together in one volume. Author, editor and journalist Declan Burke will be leading the conversation on Irish crime writing with Louise Phillips, Julie Parsons and Stuart Neville.

Declan Burke is a writer, editor, journalist and critic. He has published six crime novels. He edited Trouble Is Our Business: New Stories by Irish Crime Writers in 2016.

Louise Phillips is an author of four bestselling psychological crime thrillers, each shortlisted for Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year. Her second novel, The Doll’s House, won the award. She is currently working on her latest novel, Dark Day In May.

Julie Parsons was born in New Zealand but has lived most of her adult life in Ireland. She was a radio and television producer with RTÉ for many years until the publication of her first novel, Mary, Mary in 1998. Her subsequent novels, including The Hourglass (2005) and I Saw You (2008) were all published internationally and translated into many languages.

Stuart Neville’s crime fiction has won numerous awards, including the LA Times Book Prize. Stuart also writes under the pen name Haylen Beck, whose debut novel, Here and Gone is due to be published this summer and is in development for the screen.
  To book tickets, clickety-click here ...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Irish Times’ Crime Fiction Column

The wandering daughter job has been a staple of the private eye genre since Dashiell Hammett coined the phrase in 1929, but John Connolly’s A Game of Ghosts (Hodder & Stoughton, €17.99) offers a neat twist on the convention of the private eye quest when private investigator Charlie Parker is commissioned to track down fellow gumshoe Jaycob Eklund, who has likely wandered into harm’s way due to a long-standing fascination with the paranormal. As its title suggests, the 17th novel in Connolly’s Charlie Parker series is more directly engaged with the supernatural than some of his more recent offerings: before he went missing, we discover, Eklund was investigating the Brethren, an ancient family that preys on the unwary from beyond the grave; meanwhile, Parker’s daughter Sam, a fascinating character who is long overdue her own novel, grows increasingly aware of the role she is fated to play in her father’s epic battle with evil. What follows is an absorbing tale of sin, punishment, atonement and redemption, the language as precisely measured and slowly beaten out as a eulogy delivered to the rhythm of a muffled drum, as Connolly lures us yet again into those shadows where he has created, as all great storytellers do, a world that is uniquely his own.
  JS Monroe’s Find Me (Head of Zeus, €18.45) opens with Jarleth Costello seeing his ex-girlfriend Rosa at a Tube station, even though Rosa – officially, at least – took her own life five years previously. Jarleth frequently experiences bereavement hallucinations, but this time Rosa’s appearance coincides with Jarleth being watched and followed. Is he succumbing to paranoia? And if Rosa were still alive, as Jarleth has always believed, why would the former Cambridge student have faked her death? JS Monroe has previously published five spy novels as Jon Stock, but Find Me is a conspiracy thriller in which amateur sleuth Jarleth is plunged into a world of spooks and covert black-ops as he pursues the truth of Rosa’s disappearance. The tale proceeds via the parallel narratives of Jarleth’s investigation and diary entries, as Jarleth stumbles across a journal Rosa left behind, an encrypted document which can only be decrypted one entry at a time. It’s a conceit designed to maintain narrative suspense, but it’s one which grows increasingly implausible, as is the motive the reader is given for Rosa’s reappearance in Jarleth’s life. John le Carré and Len Deighton are referenced throughout, but Find Me, though an entertaining page-turner, falls well short of such standards.
  Sabine Durrant’s fifth novel, Lie With Me (Mulholland Books, €17.99), is a comi-tragedy centring on Paul Morris, once a best-selling author now reduced to mooching off friends and family. Wangling his way into a Greek holiday on the Ionian island of Pyros with some old Cambridge acquaintances, Paul’s vanity comes back to haunt him when he finds himself at the centre of an investigation into the murder of a young female tourist some ten years previously. Paul Morris might easily be a Patricia Highsmith creation, even if Sabine Durrant very deliberately renders her anti-hero a rather charmless Tom Ripley, a libidinous sociopath who lacks any redeeming features other than the callous honesty of his internal monologues, such as when Paul observes that ‘The selfish response to events was so much more straightforward than the morally correct.’ The Greek setting is beautifully detailed, the large cast of characters neatly sketched in, and the plot is fiendishly deceptive as it gradually undermines the readers’ expectations. A slow-burning tale, Lie With Me is a blackly humorous and surprisingly affecting psychological thriller.
  Set in Naples, Laurent Gaudé’s Hell’s Gate (Gallic, €12.75) opens in 2004 with Filippo Scalfaro De Nittis scheming to avenge the death of his father, Matteo, by stabbing gangster Toto Cullaccio. Filippo seems prone to grandiose pronouncements (‘I’ve come back from the dead. I have memories of hell and fears of the world ending.’) until the story flashes back to 1980, when we discover that Filippo, then six years old, was shot dead when caught in the cross-fire of a gangsters’ shoot-out as his father Matteo brought him to school. Hell’s Gate is the revenge thriller reimagined as an existential meditation, and one that owes a considerable debt to Dante and Homer, as the bereaved Matteo descends among the shades of the Underworld and harrows hell in a self-sacrificing bid to restore his son to life. Despite giving a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘criminal underworld’, Hell’s Gate is by no means a conventional crime novel, with Gaudé focusing his energies on creating a claustrophobically intense contemporary myth that brilliantly evokes the madness of grief.
  Jo Nesbo’s The Thirst (Harvill Secker, €14.99) is the 11th novel to feature Oslo police detective Harry Hole, although Harry is no longer a detective, instead lecturing at Oslo’s police academy. When lawyer Elise Hermansen is murdered by a man she has just met on Tinder, however, the details are particularly gruesome – the man employed a set of spring-loaded steel teeth to bite out his victim’s throat – and soon Harry is commissioned to set up an independent investigative unit to hunt down what appears to be a deranged vampirist with a raging thirst for human blood. Despite being a collection of fictional detective tropes – the genius loner maverick who has resents authority and struggles with addiction – Harry Hole is enjoyably sardonic company as he unravels the mystery of ‘the vampire killer’, albeit that his efforts are hugely helped by the fact that the killer is an old foe who simply can’t help leaving clues to help Harry’s investigation along. Leaving very few serial killer clichés unturned (‘At last we meet again, Harry’), The Thirst is a polished pot-boiler that will likely delight Jo Nesbo fans but leave anyone encountering Harry Hole (‘the most mythologised murder detective in the Oslo Police’) for the first time wondering what all the fuss is about. ~ Declan Burke

  This column was first published in the Irish Times.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Freelance Book Editor

Struggling to finish the first draft of your novel? Not sure why all the elements of your story aren’t combining as well as they should? Anxious that your finished novel is as polished as it can be before you send it out to agents and editors eagerly anticipating your game-changing debut?

The good news, such as it is, is that everyone struggles with their first draft, and no one ever believes their book is as polished as they want it to be.

I’m here to help. From the overall structure of your novel to line-edits focusing on the nitty-gritty of grammar and punctuation, from storytelling to voice and character development, I will help you to put it right.

Author and Editor:

I am the author of six novels, three of which were shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards. In 2011, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL won the Goldsboro ‘Last Laugh’ Award for comedy crime fiction.

With John Connolly, I am the co-editor of BOOKS TO DIE FOR (2012), a collection of essays on the greatest crime and mystery novels written by the greatest living crime and mystery authors. The book won the non-fiction crime Anthony, Macavity and Agatha awards in 2013.

In 2011, I edited DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS, a collection of essays, memoir and short stories written by Irish crime writers about the current wave of Irish crime writing.

I am the editor of TROUBLE IS OUR BUSINESS (2016), a collection of new short fiction from Ireland’s leading crime writers.

My short stories and critical essays have appeared in the collections SHADOWING THE DETECTIVES (2010), UNCAGE ME (2009), THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST BRITISH MYSTERIES (2011), THE QUIET QUARTER: TEN YEARS OF GREAT IRISH WRITING (2009), SILVER THREADS OF HOPE (2012) and NEW PLANET CABARET (2013), among others.

Additional Information:

I currently review fiction and non-fiction for the Irish Times, the Irish Examiner, and RTE’s Arena programme. I regularly host crime-writing courses and tutorials at the Irish Writers Centre. In the past I have worked as a proofreader for the legal publisher Thomson Round Hall.

Contact:

If you require the services of a freelance book editor who is patient and understanding, insightful and meticulous, please feel free to drop me a line at dbrodb[at]gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Launch: THE THERAPY HOUSE by Julie Parsons

It has been far too long since Julie Parsons last published a novel, so I’m delighted to see that her latest, THE THERAPY HOUSE, will be published by New Island Books early next month. To wit:

New Island Books
requests the pleasure of your company to celebrate the launch of The Therapy House by Julie Parsons on
Tuesday, May 2nd at 7.00pm
in DLR LexIcon
Dun Laoghaire
Co. Dublin
  To mark the publication of her first novel in nearly ten years, Julie will be in conversation with fellow writer and journalist Declan Hughes.

  Please note: this is a seated event. Please arrive not later than 6.45pm for a 7pm start. Tickets are free but booking is essential via Eventbrite.

  ‘Julie Parsons takes the psychological suspense thriller to places it rarely dares to go ...’ The New York Times
On Sundays peace was restored. He would lie down, dream and remember. He would enjoy. And later on the bell would ring. He would get up and walk downstairs. He would open the front door. And his life would come to an end ...

Garda Inspector Michael McLoughlin is trying to enjoy his retirement – doing a bit of PI work on the side, meeting up with former colleagues, fixing up a grand old house in a genteel Dublin suburb near the sea.

Then he discovers the body of his neighbour, a retired judge – brutally murdered, shot through the back of the neck, his face mutilated beyond recognition. McLoughlin finds himself drawn into the murky past of the murdered judge, which leads him back to his own father’s killing, decades earlier, by the IRA. In seeking the truth behind both crimes, a web of deceit, blackmail and fragile reputations comes to light, as McLoughlin’s investigation reveals the explosive circumstances linking both crimes – and dark secrets are discovered which would destroy the judge’s legendary family name.
  Bestselling author Julie Parsons (Mary, Mary, I Saw You, The Hourglass) is back with a powerful, compelling, and darkly chilling novel of violence, shame and deceit.

Friday, April 28, 2017

News: Adrian McKinty Takes Home An Edgar

Well, he did and he didn’t – Adrian McKinty’s RAIN DOGS (Serpent’s Tail) won the Edgar for Best Original Paperback at last night’s award ceremony in New York, but McKinty himself was absent and very likely, as Sean Duffy might have it, across the sheugh. Which sounds more painful than it really is. Anyway, the heartiest of congrats to Adrian McKinty, the latest Irish winner of an Edgar award, for this fully deserved recognition of his Sean Duffy series …
  For a review of RAIN DOGS, clickety-click here

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Irish Times’ Crime Fiction Column

Ali Land’s Good Me, Bad Me (Penguin Michael Joseph, €14.99) opens with teenager Milly entering a foster home, having survived the horrors perpetrated by her mother, Ruth. Scheduled to testify against Ruth, good Milly understands that her mother is a monster who must pay for her crimes; but as the bullying at her new school reaches a crisis point, bad Milly finds herself wondering about the extent to which her mother’s perverted nurturing has poisoned her nature. Land’s debut is a genuinely unsettling tale that brings to mind Megan Abbott’s novels and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, as Land – previously a child and adolescent mental health nurse – delivers a bracing take on a disturbed teenager’s perception of good and evil. References to Peter Pan and The Lord of the Flies recur throughout, emphasising the extent to which Milly is a lost innocent abroad in a world where young adolescents engineer their own reality, a bleak and pitiless society where might is right and a flair for cruelty confers authority. A novel of complex motivations that will test readers’ capacity for empathy, Good Me, Bad Me is already a strong contender for debut of the year.
  Constance Kopp, whom Amy Stewart first introduced in Girl Waits with Gun (2015), is one of the most aptly monikered protagonists in crime fiction, not least because the real-life Kopp was New Jersey’s first lady deputy sheriff. Set in 1915, Lady Cop Makes Trouble (Scribe, €14.99) opens with Constance allowing a conman, the self-styled Baron von Matthesius, to escape from prison, a lapse which provides critics of the newly established role of female deputy with plenty of ammunition, but could also result in Constance’s boss, Sheriff Heath, going to prison. Suspended from normal duties, but determined to put things right, Constance sets out to track down the Baron. Constance Kopp should be a fascinating character as she embarks on her twin battles with male prejudice and the criminals of New Jersey, particularly as Amy Stewart’s meticulous research provides the reader with a wealth of period detail. Despite being rooted in real events, however, the plot is a plodding affair, and matters aren’t helped by Stewart’s staid prose (“The two of them sat in the sheriff’s office looking about as unhappy to be with one another as two men ever have.”) and too many minor characters devoting far too much time to remarking upon the novelty of a female deputy sheriff.
  Julia Crouch’s fifth novel, Her Husband’s Lover (Headline, €17.99), is a delightfully lurid slice of domestic noir, which opens with Louisa Williams fleeing from her ‘grade A, one-hundred-per-cent, undiluted bastard’ husband Sam in a dramatic car-chase that ends with a fatal collision in which Sam kills himself and their two children. The tragic scenario is compounded when Louisa emerges from her rehabilitation to discover that Sam’s vengeful mistress, Sophie, is pregnant and determined to destroy what is left of Louisa’s life. Julia Crouch coined the term ‘domestic noir’ to describe crime fiction’s latest sub-genre, and this latest offering is unlikely to disappoint fans, being a full-throttle romp through the paranoid delusions of a cast of grotesques, each more repellent than the last. The tone errs on the shrill side as the story strives to establish each of its narrators as unreliable, with the characters deliberately pitched as too perfect / too obsessed / too evil to ring entirely true, but it’s a hugely addictive read as Julia Crouch, having set up an apparently open-and-shut case of domestic abuse, gleefully rips to shreds both the characters’ pretensions and the reader’s expectations.
  E.O. Chirovici’s The Book of Mirrors begins with literary editor Peter Katz receiving a partial manuscript from Richard Flynn, which documents the murder of Princeton psychologist Professor Joseph Wieder but only hints at the identity of his killer. When Katz tries to contact Flynn, however, he discovers that the author has died without revealing the whereabouts of the full manuscript, leading Katz to commission freelance journalist John Keller to uncover the truth … A prolific author in his native Romanian, The Book of Mirrors is E.O. Chirovici’s first novel written in English, an intriguing Russian doll of a narrative which passes the mystery of Professor Wieder’s murder on to a number of investigators. The prose is stolidly functional, but Chirovici’s story nevertheless offers an intriguing whydunit underpinned by a treatise on memory, as a number of witnesses create a cat’s-cradle of conflicting testimony designed to keep the reader guessing to the very end. That said, even the most generous reader will likely baulk at one character’s suggestion that the story is reminiscent of Capote’s In Cold Blood, and Chirovici’s invoking of ‘the great French writer’ and his remembrance of things past is at best ill-advised.
  Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly (Serpent’s Tail, €15.99) is the sixth in Adrian McKinty’s increasingly impressive series to feature Sean Duffy, a Catholic detective working for the RUC during Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’. The mystery begins with a bizarre murder, when drug dealer Francis Deauville is shot to death with a crossbow, but when Duffy starts to wonder why an ‘independent’ drug dealer who has been paying protection to the paramilitaries has been assassinated in such an exotic fashion, he finds himself assailed on all sides. Persecuted by Internal Affairs and fending off IRA attacks, Duffy digs deep into Northern Ireland’s recent past to uncover a tale of collusion and unsolved murder. The plot is as tortuously twisting as McKinty’s readers have come to expect but it’s the tone that proves the novel’s most enjoyable aspect, as Duffy delivers a first-person tale of cheerfully grim fatalism and Proddy-Taig banter, the story chock-a-block with cultural references, from NWA and Kylie Minogue to Miami Vice and The Myth of Sisyphus. ~ Declan Burke

  This column was first published in the Irish Times.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Patricia Gibney

Yep, it’s rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...

What crime novel would you most like to have written?

Misery by Stephen King.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?

No time for pleasures – guilty or otherwise. Most of my reading is crime and thrillers, detective based. But I do like the occasional short story.

Most satisfying writing moment?
Two really – getting my agent, Ger Nichol was, for me, the first validation of my writing. Then, of course, signing a four-book deal with Bookouture.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
Every Dead Thing by John Connolly. For an Irish-based novel, Disappeared by Anthony J. Quinn.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?

Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller. It’s not set in Ireland, but Jax lives in Enfield, just down the road! For an Irish-based novel, Red Ribbons by Louise Phillips.

Worst thing about being a writer?
For me it’s finding the discipline to edit my own work.

Best thing about being a writer?
I get to make things up. I can use my imagination and be creative.

The pitch for your book is …
When a woman’s body is found in Ragmullin cathedral, and hours later a man’s body is found hanging from a tree, DI Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. The trail leads her to a former children’s home with a dark connection to her own family history. As she begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger? Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.

Who is on your shoulder as you write?

My husband, Aidan, who died almost eight years ago after a short illness, aged just 49. He has been with me in spirit every tap of the keyboard. Missed but cherished.

Who are you reading right now?
Robert Dugoni. My writing has been compared to his and I must admit I hadn’t read any of his work. So I’m catching up now. I didn’t realise he was a US bestseller!

God appears and says you can only write or read. Which would it be?

Write, of course. (However, I might need to be able to read a little in order to edit what I’ve written).

The three best words to describe your own writing …

Dark. Mysterious. Gripping. (I took those words from a review). Though my editor calls it ‘creepy’.

THE MISSING ONES by Patricia Gibney is published by Bookouture.