“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. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “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. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Publications: Irish Crime Fiction 2015

Herewith be a brief list of Irish crime fiction titles to be published in 2015, a list I’ll be updating on a regular basis throughout the year. To wit:

GUN STREET GIRL by Adrian McKinty (January 8)

MARKED OFF by Don Cameron (February 9)
TAKEN FOR DEAD by Graham Masterton (February 12)

THE DEFENCE by Steve Cavanagh (March 12)
THE LAKE by Sheena Lambert (March 19)

A SONG OF SHADOWS by John Connolly (April 9)
KILLING WAYS by Alex Barclay (April 9)
THE ORGANISED CRIMINAL by Jarlath Gregory (April 9)

THE NIGHT GAME by Frank Golden (May 28)

FREEDOM’S CHILD by Jax Miller (June 2)
ONLY WE KNOW by Karen Perry (June 4)
AFTER THE FIRE by Jane Casey (June 18)
THE SILENT DEAD by Claire McGowan (June 18)
ALOYSIUS TEMPO by Jason Johnson (June 25)
THOSE WE LEFT BEHIND by Stuart Neville (June 26)

GREEN HELL by Ken Bruen (July 7)
BARLOW BY THE BOOK by John McAllister (July 21)

PRESERVE THE DEAD by Brian McGilloway (August 6)
A BEAUTIFUL DEATH by Louise Phillips (August TBC)

A DEADLY GAMBLE by Pat Mullan (September TBC)

DEATH AT WHITEWATER CHURCH by Andrea Carter (October 1)
EVEN THE DEAD by Benjamin Black (October 15)

DEAD SECRET by Ava McCarthy (November 19)

ARE YOU WATCHING ME? by Sinead Crowley (date TBC)

  If you’re an Irish crime writer with a book on the way, please feel free to drop me a line (including details on dates, publisher, etc.) if you’d like to be included in the ongoing updates.

  NB: Publication dates are given according to Amazon UK, and are subject to change.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Publication: YOU, ME AND OTHER PEOPLE by Fionnuala Kearney

On occasion we stray beyond our self-imposed remit of Irish crime fiction here at CAP Towers, and it’s in that spirit that I mention that Fionnuala Kearney published her debut novel, YOU, ME AND OTHER PEOPLE (Harper) this week. Quoth the blurb elves:
THEY SAY EVERY FAMILY HAS SKELETONS IN THEIR CLOSET . . .
  But what happens when you open the door and they won’t stop tumbling out?
  For Adam and Beth the first secret wasn’t the last, it was just the beginning.
  You think you can imagine the worst thing that could happen to your family, but there are some secrets that change everything.
  And then the question is, how can you piece together a future when your past is being rewritten?
  For fans of Liane Moriarty, Jojo Moyes and David Nicholls.
  For all the details, clickety-click here

Friday, February 27, 2015

Exhibition: Ger Holland at dlr Lexicon

I’m not entirely sure why I look so constipated in this photograph with Jo Nesbo, although it’s possible that I’m being slowly strangled by that rare, multi-coloured Dun Laoghaire python that has leapt onto my neck. Anyway, the pic was taken by the very talented Ger Holland, who has become synonymous with photography at literary events in Ireland over least few years. Ger has her first exhibition of photographs next week, Tuesday March 3rd, and as you’d imagine, she’s delighted about it all:
“I’m delighted to welcome you all to my first exhibition in the dlr Lexicon in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. The exhibition features 40 photographs that I have taken of writers at the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festivals over the last three years and from 16 different dlr Library Voices events, including Jo Nesbo, Donna Tartt, Ian McEwan and Armistead Maupin.”
  For all the details, clickety-click here

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by Celeste Ng

I reviewed Celeste Ng’s EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU earlier this month in the Irish Times crime fiction column, a book that reminded me in many ways of Megan Abbott’s THE END OF EVERYTHING, which is one of the best novels I’ve read in the last decade or so. The review of Celeste’s book runs a lot like this:
Opening in 1977 in Middlewood, Ohio, Celeste Ing’s debut Everything I Never Told You (Black Friars) begins with a dramatic declaration: “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” The 16-year-old Chinese-American daughter of James and Marilyn Lee, Lydia is discovered drowned in a local lake, but as the police investigation proceeds it remains unclear as to whether Lydia died as a result of murder, suicide or a tragic accident. Indeed, rather than advance the plot to the point where a motive and perpetrator are revealed, Celeste Ing is far more interested in exploring who Lydia Lee really was behind the various masks she wore to deceive her parents, her siblings and her high school friends. Ethnicity and assimilation (or the lack of it) is crucial to Lydia’s story: James Lee is a Chinese-American professor of American culture who has spent his entire life trying to blend in to a society that instinctively labels him as an outsider, while her mother, Marilyn, was frustrated in her youth in her ambition to become a doctor, and channels her aspirations through her daughter. What emerges is a heartbreaking portrait of a teenage girl struggling to cope with unbearable and conflicting pressures brought to bear by her parents, while also trying to deal with the more prosaic but no less difficult issues of adolescence, in a story that brings to mind Megan Abbott’s subversive take on the crime novel. Ranging back and forth from the 1970s to the 1950s – when James and Marilyn first met, and the seeds of Lydia’s tragedy were first sown – Everything I Never Told You is an affecting, compelling tale of quiet desperation. ~ Declan Burke
  For the rest of the column, which includes the current offerings from Paula Hawkins, Harri Nykänen and Rob Kitchin, clickety-click here

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Launch: DEADLY INTENT by Anna Sweeney

Deirdre Purcell will launch Anna Sweeney’s DEADLY INTENT (Severn House) on Friday, February 27th, at the Anam Cara Writers’ and Artists’ Retreat, Beara, Co. Cork, at 8.30pm. Quoth the blurb elves:
Maureen lies unconscious on a lonely track. Her husband blames a fellow holidaymaker at Nessa McDermott’s country house on Ireland’s enchanting Beara Peninsula. Two days later, a man’s body is found, strangled and dumped. Amid a frenzy of police, media and family pressures, former journalist Nessa has to find her own answers - but meanwhile, ambitious young policeman Redmond Joyce is also hellbent on identifying the murderer, and conflict between them grows as they close in on the horrifying truth. Translated from the Gaelic, this novel introduces a talented author with keen observation and detail, and marks the beginning of a series with Nessa and her ambitious policeman acquaintance.
  For those of you unfamiliar with the Beara Peninsula, Anna has written a piece for Writing.ie why the peninsula is the perfect setting for a murder mystery, with a sample running thusly:
“For my own crime novel Deadly Intent, my location of choice was the Beara Peninsula on Ireland’s wild Atlantic edge. On a coastline famed for its fifteen hundred miles of dramatic headlands, craggy mountains and sweeping beaches, Beara has some of the most magnificent scenery of all. And the more I got to know it, the more I could imagine writing about it.
  “The trick was not to let all that the scenic beauty turn into a travelogue. The peninsula’s spectacular coves, remote valleys and secluded country lanes are havens of peace and tranquillity; but for my purposes, they could also hide grim and guilty secrets as well as victims’ bodies. In Beara as in most rural places, it’s normal to know your neighbours’ business; but in the face of fictional murder, a close-knit community could also abound in rumour and fear.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: WAYFARING STRANGER by James Lee Burke

Best known for his series of books featuring Dave Robicheaux, James Lee Burke offers a fascinating historical crime novel in Wayfaring Stranger (Orion). Texas sheriff Hackberry Holland will be familiar to Burke’s fans, having first appeared in one of Burke’s earliest novels, Lay Down My Sword and Shield (1971), and more recently in Rain Gods (2009) and Feast of Fools (2011), but the Hackberry Holland we meet here is an older incarnation, a laconic US Marshal who made his reputation when he faced down the infamous outlaw John Wesley Hardin.
  That ‘Wild West’ motif is a recurring one throughout Wayfaring Stranger, even though the story opens in Depression-era Texas, when the appearance of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow make an indelible impression on the teenage Weldon Holland, Hackberry’s grandson and protégé. Weldon believes Bonnie and Clyde to be heroes who should be celebrated, as were earlier outlaws, for their courage and willingness to flout the law of the land; his grandfather, older and wiser, understands the danger to civilised society such loose cannons represent.
  Later, another formative experience during the Battle of the Bulge gives Weldon a sense of perspective on life that his enemies lack when he starts drilling for oil in Louisiana during the post-WWII years. Unwilling to bend the knee to his social and economic superiors, and determined above all else to protect his Jewish wife Rosita, whom he met whilst escaping from the Germans during the war, Weldon finds himself caught up in a very dirty game of industrial espionage.
  If the Dave Robicheaux novels have grown thematically repetitive in the years since Burke’s masterpiece The Tin Roof Blowdown (2007), as Robicheaux ruminates at length on his mortality, Wayfaring Stranger represents an intriguing tangent to his body of work (Burke has published 33 novels to date).
  The acknowledged grandmaster of the American crime novel (he has won the Mystery Writers of America ‘Edgar Award’ three times, and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988), Burke here employs the framework of the crime narrative to write a sprawling epic spanning the embryonic years of what he describes as ‘the New American Empire’. “Inside its crassness was a kind of meretricious innocence,” writes Burke, “one you might associate with a nation’s inception or perhaps its demise, like the twilight of the gods or an antebellum vision borrowed from the world of Margaret Mitchell.”
  Bonnie and Clyde and a cameo appearance by Bugsy Siegel initially appear to root the story in a conventional tale of warring gangsters, but Burke has a more ambitious story to tell here. “There’s a difference between justice and vengeance,” Rosita tells Weldon, but while justice and / or vengeance are traditionally the goal of the crime novel’s protagonists, Burke has in mind the kind of hero that long predates the crime novel. “Roy says we’re wayfaring strangers, like the Canterbury Pilgrims trying to wend their way past the Black Death. He says death is the only reality in our lives.” Repeated references to Chaucer, Shakespeare, the chivalric romances and the Song of Roland give us a sense of the broader canvas Burke is working with here – indeed, Burke eventually goes so far as to allow Weldon to claim that “the Homeric epic doesn’t have to be discovered inside a book; it begins just west of Forth Worth and extends all the way to Santa Monica.”
  Recounted in Burke’s familiar blend of Southern vernacular and lush, dreamy prose-poetry, Weldon Holland’s exploits may not reach the heights of Homer’s heroes, but Wayfaring Stranger is nevertheless a wonderfully ambitious and absorbing novel. ~ Declan Burke

  This review first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Publication: THE LAKE by Sheena Lambert

Sheena Lambert’s debut thriller THE LAKE is published as an e-book by Killer Reads on March 19th, with the paperback to follow in June. Quoth the blurb elves:
September 1975. A body is discovered in the receding waters of a man-made lake, and for Peggy Casey, 23-year-old landlady of The Angler’s Rest, nothing will ever be the same. Detective Sergeant Frank Ryan is dispatched from Dublin, and his arrival casts an uneasy spotlight on the damaged history of the valley, and on the difficult relationships that bind Peggy and her three older siblings. Over the course of the weekend, Detective Ryan’s investigation will not only uncover the terrible truth behind the dead woman’s fate, but will also expose the Casey family’s deepest secrets. Secrets never meant to be revealed.
  For more on Sheena Lambert, clickety-click here

Friday, February 20, 2015

Local Heroes: Seamus Smyth

I was going to write a Local Heroes post about Seamus Smyth, author of the brilliant QUINN, akin to the piece I wrote about Philip Davison recently, but then I stumbled across this from Ken Bruen, from waaaaay back in 2007. Take it away, Ken:
“Life sucks, yadda-yadda, so what else is new? But sometimes it sucks on a level that you want to scream, “Ah for fucksakes!” Being a crime writer always means registering low on the literary barometer but being an Irish crime writer? Just shoot yourself – unless you’re plugged into the usual mafia circle of same tired old names.
  “Seamus Smyth wrote a blistering debut titled QUINN back in 1999 and what should have been a major lift-off to a glittering career came to zilch. If he were writing in the UK or USA, he’d be mega. QUINN is a kick-in-the-face wondrous blitz of a novel. No tip-toeing Mr Nice Guy here: this is a first-person narrative of a psycho who operates in the Dublin underworld, the kind of novel Paul Williams would, ahem, kill to have written.
  “The hero, Gerd Quinn, is straight from the tradition of Goodis through Thompson to the wry, sly humour of a Willeford. The writing is a dream, a style all Smyth’s own. He uses his anti-hero to pay homage to the noir genre and yet subvert it in a way only a true dark Irish craftsman could. It’s the kind of novel you read and think, ‘Just bloody mighty’, and immediately watch out for his next. But this is not just a great crime novel, it’s one hell of a novel, full stop. QUINN should be THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE for this decade, it’s that good and fresh and innovative.
  “Let’s remedy one case of criminal neglect and get Seamus Smyth up where he belongs, right at the top of the genre, and allow a rare and unique talent to do what he was born to do - write the provocative novels this country deserves. Gerd Quinn states, ‘There’s no malice in what I do …’, which makes it one of the most ironic opening lines of any novel in light of what’s coming down the Smyth pike. QUINN is not only vital, it’s damn essential.” ~ Ken Bruen
  For all the details on QUINN, clickety-click here

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: STUMPED by Rob Kitchin

The latest Irish Times crime fiction column includes a review of Rob Kitchin’s STUMPED, which ran a lot like this:
Billed as a ‘screwball noir’ and set during the concluding days of an Irish election campaign, Rob Kitchin’s Stumped (280 Steps, €11.99) is a comic crime caper that opens with Grant, an English academic based at Maynooth University, being presented with an ultimatum: return an unspecified package stolen from a Dublin gang lord, or see his friend Sinead returned to him in severed pieces. Enlisting the help of the wheelchair-bound Mary and her camp friend Declan, the hapless, bumbling Grant sets out to do the right thing, aided and abetted by venial politicians, low-life thugs, tabloid journalists, a rockabilly cop and a veritable platoon of drag queen farmers. Kitchin – an English academic based at Maynooth University – offers a delightfully preposterous tale in this, his fourth novel, even if the story is neither bleak enough to qualify as true noir and lacks the snappy, crackling dialogue we associate with classic screwball comedy. That said, Kitchin maintains a cracking pace and generates plenty of humour by switching rapidly between the perspectives of a swarming host of outlandish characters, very few of whom are anywhere near as clever or competent as they believe themselves to be. ~ Declan Burke
  For the rest of the column, which includes the current offerings from Paula Hawkins, Harri Nykänen and Celeste Ng, clickety-click here

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: DEATH SENTENCES, edited by Otto Penzler

The physical book may be under threat from the digital revolution and its e-books, according to perceived wisdom, but book collectors and bibliophiles are in far more immediate danger of being wiped out.
  At least, that’s the recurring theme in Death Sentences (Head of Zeus), a collection of short stories edited by Otto Penzler and written by 16 crime and mystery authors who are, according to Ian Rankin’s Introduction, ‘masters of their craft’. Jeffrey Deaver, John Connolly, Nelson DeMille, Laura Lippman, CJ Box and Anne Perry are just some of the household names who contribute to a collection in which each offering revolves around books.
  Overall it’s an amusing conceit. We tend to imagine that book lovers, librarians and bibliophiles of all stripes are quiet, gentle folk, likely to live to a grand old age and slip away in their sleep, preferably in a comfortable armchair in a well-lit bay window, a blanket across the knees, a good book still clutched in their gnarled hands.
  In Death Sentences, however, book lovers are bludgeoned to death by their precious tomes, crushed by falling bookshelves, shoved down library stairs whilst holding a tottering pile of research volumes, or blown to bits by a bomb smuggled into their private library. When they’re not the actual murder weapon itself, books provide one or more elements of the crime writers’ beloved triumvirate of means, motive and opportunity.
  Indeed, some of the authors play the concept for wry comedy. William Link’s pulpy throwback to the hardboiled days of the Black Mask magazine, ‘Death Leaves a Bookmark’, features a police detective called Columbo. Nelson DeMille’s The Book Case – one of two stories that features falling bookshelves as the murder weapon – offers a jaunty tone of murder investigation in a crime fiction bookstore, in which the sardonic police detective, John Corey, notes the bestselling writers on display, “such as Brad Meltzer, James Patterson, David Baldacci, Nelson DeMille, and others who make more money writing about what I do than I make doing what I do.”
  Other writers take a more serious approach. Set in London in 1938, Peter Blauner’s ‘The Final Testament’ is narrated by Sigmund Freud, and tells of how Freud is approached by a Nazi agent who wants to blackmail Freud into putting his name to a piece of black propaganda about the Jewish people. As it happens, a number of the stories here incorporate the Nazis. Set in the American northwest, CJ Box’s story ‘Pronghorns of the Third Reich’ is as bizarre as its title suggests, and true into the bargain (Box even provides photographic evidence of his claim). Thomas H. Cook’s affecting tale ‘What’s In A Name?’ offers an alternative history of the 20th Century, and features an aspiring but ultimately unpublished author with a very potent name. Meanwhile, ‘The Book of Ghosts’ by Reed Farrel Coleman, which tells the tale of the morally conflicted Holocaust survivor Jacob Weisen, is one of the finest of the collection.
  Given that the vast majority of authors are readers so deranged by books that they are themselves maddened into writing, the stories also offer fascinating glimpse of the authors’ personal obsessions. Laura Lippman’s beautifully quirky ‘The Book Thing’ takes her series private eye Tess Monaghan (and Tess’s baby daughter Carla Scout) into the colourful world of children’s bookshops, where she is commissioned to investigate a very unusual crime. Anne Perry’s ‘The Scroll’ is as influenced by the horror genre as it is by crime and mystery, and centres on a mysterious and ancient vellum scroll that hides a dark secret in its Aramaic script. Where many of the stories revolve around valuable and precious books, David Bell’s ‘Rides a Stranger’ concerns itself with a tattered old Western paperback. The Mickey Spillane story ‘It’s in the Book’, finished here by Max Allan Collins, sees the imperishable Mike Hammer in pursuit of a dead Mafia don’s old ledger, its secrets a threat to the President of the United States.
  There are two Irish contributions to the collection. In the first, Ken Bruen – whose protagonists are invariably well-read – brings his unique style to bear on New York and a young Irish-American man’s bitter relationship with his father, a former NYPD cop. When the father dies and unexpectedly bequeaths his son The Book of Virtue, the son is forced to reassess what he knew of his father, and his own life’s direction.
  By contrast with Bruen’s brusque style, John Connolly’s ‘The Caxton Lending Library and Book Depository’ is an elegantly wrought tale of the rather dull Mr Berger, who late one evening witnesses a young woman step in front of a speeding train – and yet can find no trace of her remains on the railway track. The story’s supernatural elements quickly segue into a hugely entertaining tale of fictional characters interacting with reality as Mr Berger pursues the ‘ghost’. (I should declare an interest here by saying that I have in the past co-edited a book with John Connolly; the fact that ‘The Caxton Lending Library and Book Depository’ won last year’s Edgar Award for Best Short Story is testament to its quality).
  Ultimately, the most vulnerable victim in the collection – the plethora of murdered booksellers, readers and bibliophiles notwithstanding – is the physical book itself. Whether the writers make explicit their concerns about the e-book revolution, as Laura Lippman does, or contextualise the veneration of the physical book – or vellum parchment, say, or a hand-stitched volume written by Hernando Cortez – the message remains the same: the book, regardless of the story it tells, is a valuable artefact in its own right, and e-books, even if they tell the exact same story, lack cultural heft, physically and metaphorically.
  The mood is summed up by Andrew Taylor’s ‘The Long Sonata of the Dead’, a beautifully written tale set for the most part amid the labyrinthine stacks of the London Library. “It’s the real, printed book that matters,” our hero, a writer, tells us; as a result, and though his subsequent actions are rather less than savoury, it’s very hard to consider him entirely immoral. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Examiner

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Photo Essay: Charlie Parker’s Portland

Richard Edwards recently compiled a rather beautiful photo essay of Portland, Maine, according to locations mentioned in John Connolly’s Charlie Parker novels. It’s a terrific idea, and it’d be great to see it catch on. Quoth Richard:
“There are dozens of reasons why you should pick up a Charlie Parker novel; character, story, tension, surprises abound, but for me, a key element is a feeling of realism that you can sense throughout the writing. An author needs authority, hence the title, and it’s important to be able to trace some believability in what you’re reading, no matter how fantastic the story line, and John Connolly does this expertly, tying the story into living, breathing locations, peppered with believable local characters.”
  For the photo essay, clickety-click here …

Monday, February 16, 2015

Reviews: THE LOST AND THE BLIND by Declan Burke

As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, I do try to keep the self-promotion bumf to a minimum here at CAP Towers, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I indulge myself yet again. I was trying for something a little different when I wrote THE LOST AND THE BLIND (Severn House), and the early reviews across various platforms seem to be quite positive about the result. To wit:
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist

“There’s much, much more, and readers with the patience to watch as Burke (Crime Always Pays, 2014, etc.) peels back layer after layer will be rewarded with an unholy Chinese box of a thriller. Make that an Irish-German box.” – Kirkus Reviews

“In “The Lost and the Blind,” Declan Burke weaves plot twist after plot twist together to create a thriller full of mystery and intrigue. If you think you can predict endings, you won’t this time. The first few chapters keep you dizzy with questions as the story starts to unfold. If not for Burke’s ability to create a spellbinding tale, you might be tempted to put the book down. You are never quite sure what happened, who to trust, or what’s truly going on in Delphi Island until the end. The only promise is that Burke keeps you turning the page with his style of writing, deft dialogue, and cast of characters. Not many authors are capable of successfully pulling off such a complex plot, but Burke does and makes it seem effortless.” – Library Thing

“This book has great elements of crime, thriller and mystery, with an intricate plot that keeps you on your toes up to the final pages. This is the first Declan Burke book I’ve read and it won’t be the last.” – Romancrimeblogger, Amazon
  If that piques your interest, you’ll find THE LOST AND THE BLIND here

One to Watch: DEATH AT WHITEWATER CHURCH by Andrea Carter

We have a while to wait yet, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for Andrea Carter’s debut novel, DEATH AT WHITEWATER CHURCH (Constable), which will be published in October and set on Donegal’s Inishowen peninsula. Quoth the blurb elves:
When a skeleton is discovered, wrapped in a blanket, in the hidden crypt of a deconsecrated church, everyone is convinced the bones must be those of Conor Devitt, a local man who went missing on his wedding day six years previously. But the post mortem reveals otherwise.
  Solicitor Ben O’Keeffe is acting for the owners of the church, and although an unwelcome face from her past makes her reluctant to get involved initially, when Conor’s brother dies in strange circumstances shortly after coming to see her, she finds herself drawn in to the mystery. Whose is the skeleton in the crypt and how did it get there? Is Conor Devitt still alive, and if so is there a link? What happened on the morning of his wedding to make him disappear?
  Negotiating between the official investigation, headed up by the handsome but surly Sergeant Tom Molloy, and obstructive locals with secrets of their own, Ben unravels layers of personal and political history to get to the truth of what happened six years before.
  For more on Andrea Carter, clickety-click here

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Interview: Sheila Bugler

The author of HUNTING SHADOWS and THE WAITING GAME, Shelia Bugler (right) is interviewed over at the Words With Jam ezine. An excerpt:
“As someone with a particular interest in flawed female characters, I’d love to have written any one of Gillian Flynn’s marvellous novels. Or anything by Megan Abbott – I am a huge fan of her work. I recently read This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash and was in awe for days afterwards. It’s a stunning novel. Tana French’s latest The Secret Place is another brilliant piece of crime fiction. If I could ever write a book that compares to any of those authors, I’d be really happy.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Essay: Steve Cavanagh on THE EXECUTIONERS

Steve Cavanagh, author of the forthcoming THE DEFENCE (Orion), has a very nice essay on John D. MacDonald’s THE EXECUTIONERS over at the Murder Room blog. It starts a lot like this:
“First published in 1957 as The Executioners, this classic is one of many standalone novels from one of the greatest mystery writers that has ever lived.
  “Lee Child’s Jack Reacher owes a lot to MacDonald’s Travis McGee series, and Lee has let it be known that he’s a huge fan of MacDonald. He is not alone in that – some of the world’s finest writers look to MacDonald with considerable admiration, writers such as Kingsley Amis, Stephen King and Dean Koontz.
  “In Cape Fear, MacDonald paved the way for one of the most popular thriller formats, one that still dominates the bestseller charts today: take an ordinary family man, put him in an extraordinary situation and watch what happens. This is the modern-day territory of Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay …”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sideline: Greek Islands and Me

You’ll excuse me diverting away from the usual fare on Crime Always Pays, I hope, but I stumbled across this fabulous photograph of the Greek island of Monemvasia on the Huffington Post’s Travel section this morning – I’ve never been to Monemvasia, but there was a certain shock of recognition, given that it strongly resembles (in my mind at least) the fictional island of Delphi, in Donegal’s Lough Swilly, where I set a goodly chunk of my spy thriller THE LOST AND THE BLIND (Severn House). To wit:
Once we’d crossed the central channel, we began curving sharply around to the south, the ferry picking up speed as we ran with the current and came around parallel to Delphi’s western shore. The coastline was unforgiving, a high rocky bluff crowned with thick forest, and I began to wonder if we’d need to anchor off-shore and take a tender to the island. Then, as we were passing a stubby promontory, the pilot pulled a ferry’s equivalent of a handbrake turn, throwing the wheel over and dragging a dull bellow of protest out the engines as he rammed them into reverse. For a moment we hung suspended in the current and then we slid easily into a tiny horseshoe bay surrounded on three sides by sheer cliff. The harbour was so calm that for a second or two, as we steamed towards the village tucked into a crevice in the cliffs, I believed we were going to ram the outlying buildings. It wasn’t until the first few houses began to waver and dance that I realized they were a reflection, the mirror-still surface unsettled by the wake pushed out under our prow ...
  Kee rolled the car down on to terra firma, up on to the pier. There she paused. On our left, tucked in under the sheer headland, was a large car park sparsely populated by cars, some of them under tied-down canvas coverings, along with a couple of small trucks and a handful of camper vans. At its entrance we found a topographical map informing us that Delphi boasted no more than a single road that was navigable by car, which encircled the island and hugged the coast all the way round. Otherwise the interior was essentially a steep-sloped pine-covered mountain accessible only by footpaths and hiking trails, with a single donkey path leading straight up from the rear of the village to a viewing point high on the cliffs above …
  For more on Monemvasia, clickety-click here.
  For more on THE LOST AND THE BLIND, clickety-click here.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Launch: MARKED OFF by Don Cameron

Debut novelist Don Cameron launches MARKED OFF (New Island) at 6.30pm on Thursday, February 12 in Alan Hanna’s Bookshop, 270 Rathmines Road Lower, Rathmines, Dublin 6. Quoth the blurb elves:
In the leafy suburb of Booterstown in the height of mid-Summer, the brutal and shocking murder of a local woman is the last thing that anyone expects. What is more unexpected is that this murder will only be the first of many. Inspector Danny O’Neill is led on a trail of false clues, lies, and corruption, where the only thing he seems to be able to find are dead ends.
  As O’Neill tries to come to terms with a painful past of buried memories, we realise that this is more than just a hunt for a wanted man, it is a hunt for redemption.
  In a tale of twists, turns, and sometimes sheer roundabouts, Marked Off tells the tale of a Dublin rendered frighteningly unfamiliar by the antics of a troubled and evil killer.
  For more, clickety-click here

Interview: Anthony Quinn

Arminta Wallace interviewed Anthony Quinn (right) – author of DISAPPEARED, BORDER ANGELS and THE BLOOD DIMMED TIDE – for the Irish Times over the weekend, and a very good read it is too. Sample quote:
“One of the biggest influences on me is Graham Greene. He was very good at bringing out the darkness in everybody as well as the light. PD James and Ruth Rendell are also influences. But I would say that Stuart Neville and Colin Bateman have influenced me in more subtle ways, in that they first took on writing about the Troubles and using detective fiction to do it. They knocked away my inhibitions in that respect.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Review: GUN STREET GIRL by Adrian McKinty

The latest Irish Times crime fiction column includes a review of Adrian McKinty’s current offering, GUN STREET GIRL (Serpent’s Tail). It runs a lot like this:
The fourth in Adrian McKinty’s award-winning series of police procedurals featuring Sean Duffy, a Catholic detective serving in the RUC during the 1980s, Gun Street Girl (Serpent’s Tail, €19.40), opens in 1985, as the news of the impending Anglo-Irish Agreement sends Northern Ireland into a turmoil of strikes, riots and violence. “How can you investigate a murder in a time of incipient civil war?” Duffy wonders as he attends the scene of what appears to be a professional double-killing of ‘civilians’. That conundrum is quickly left behind as Duffy finds himself investigating the possibility that the murders are connected to the theft of Javelin missile systems from the Shorts manufacturing plant, which may well implicate rogue members of an American secret service. The claustrophobic tension of the previous novels is replaced here by a surprisingly jocular tone, as Duffy resorts to absurdist humour in order to preserve his sanity in an increasingly bleak Northern Ireland. “Out here,” Duffy tells us, “on the edge of the dying British Empire, farce is the only mode of narrative discourse that makes any sense at all.” Gun Street Girl may well be a comically implausible tale, but its roots in historical fact renders it a superb satire of its time and place. ~ Declan Burke
  For the rest of the column, which includes reviews of the latest books from Colette McBeth, Antonio Hodgson and Dana King, clickety-click here