“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.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

One To Watch: A LITTLE MORE FREE by John McFetridge

I’ve been a fan of John McFetridge’s for quite a few years now, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance reading copy of his forthcoming A LITTLE MORE FREE (ECW Press). It’s the second novel to feature Montreal-based police constable Eddie Dougherty, and it’s an absolute cracker. Quoth the blurb elves:
Montreal, Labour Day weekend, 1972. The city is getting ready to host the first game in the legendary Summit Series between Canada and the USSR. Three men set fire to a nightclub and Constable Eddie Dougherty witnesses the deaths of 37 people. The Museum of Fine Arts is robbed and two million dollars’ worth of paintings are stolen. Against the backdrop of these historic events, Dougherty discovers the body of a murdered young man on Mount Royal. As he tries to prove he has the stuff to become a detective, he is drawn into the world of American draft dodgers and deserters, class politics, and organized crime.
  The bad news? A LITTLE MORE FREE won’t be published until September. Still, it’ll be worth waiting for, and in the meantime you can catch up on John’s previous offerings. To keep up to date on future developments, wander on over to John’s blog

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)

WHITE CHURCH, BLACK MOUNTAIN by Thomas Paul Burgess (March)
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)

A MAD AND WONDERFUL THING by Mark Mulholland (May 8)
THE BONES OF IT by Kelly Creighton (May 15)
THE NIGHT GAME by Frank Golden (May 28)
EVEN THE DEAD by Benjamin Black (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)
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)
HIDE AND SEEK by Jane Casey (August TBC)

A DEADLY GAMBLE by Pat Mullan (September TBC)

DEATH AT WHITEWATER CHURCH by Andrea Carter (October 1)

DEAD SECRET by Ava McCarthy (November 19)
THE SILENT DEAD by Claire McGowan (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.

Friday, April 17, 2015

News: THE LOST AND THE BLIND by Declan Burke

As the more eagle-eyed of the Three Regular Readers may have noted, I was away on holidays / vacation / the lam (delete as appropriate) for the first couple of weeks in April, a period which coincided with the US publication of THE LOST AND THE BLIND.
  If it’s okay with you, there’s one or three things I’d like to bring to your attention:
The Kindle publication of THE LOST AND THE BLIND;

Some very positive Amazon reviews in the UK and US for THE LOST AND THE BLIND;

An interview published by the RTE Ten website;

My ‘What Writers Are Reading’ offering, courtesy of the inestimable Marshal Zeringue;

A very nice review from that tireless champion of Irish crime writers, the Bookwitch;

And, finally, the delightful news that CRIME ALWAYS PAYS has been longlisted – in a list of 30 books, admittedly – for the Goldsboro Award for Comedy Crime Fiction, the winner of which will be announced at the Bristol Crimefest.
  So there you have it. I really should go away more often, shouldn’t I?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

News: Eoin McNamee Shortlisted for Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year

Hearty congratulations to Eoin McNamee, whose BLUE IS THE NIGHT has been shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year award. Eoin is nominated alongside David Butler, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Patrick O’Keeffe and Eibhear Walshe, and the winner will be announced on May 29th, during Listowel Writers’ Week. For all the details, clickety-click here
  I reviewed BLUE IS THE NIGHT a couple of weeks ago: “a beguiling, gripping tale that deserves to be considered a masterpiece of Irish noir fiction, regardless of whether its hue is black or the darkest blue.” For the full review, clickety-click here

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: KILLING WAYS by Alex Barclay

Ren Bryce, the Denver-based FBI agent with the ‘Safe Streets’ programme, returns in Alex Barclay’s seventh novel, Killing Ways (Harper Collins, €16.99). A particularly vicious serial killer is targeting women in Denver, but Ren, bi-polar and off her meds in order to stay sharp, may not be the best person to lead the investigation. There’s a raw intimacy to Barclay’s portrayal of Ren Bryce, given that we’re privy to the self-torturing Ren’s unfiltered thought process, an intimacy that becomes all the more charged when we discover that she is chasing the killer who first appeared in Barclay’s debut, Dark House (2005). The most remarkable aspect of the novel, however, is the degree to which Barclay forces the reader to consider the consequences of brutal murder – indeed, there’s an element of horror in the brutal poetry that describes not only the victims’ remains, but the reasons why the killer is possessed of such savagery. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Launch: THE ORGANISED CRIMINAL by Jarlath Gregory

Declan Hughes will launch Jarlath Gregory’s THE ORGANISED CRIMINAL (Liberties Press) on Thursday, April 23rd. The event takes place at 6.30pm at The Liquor Rooms, 5 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2. Quoth the blurb elves:
Spiked with black humour throughout, The Organised Criminal introduces us to Jay O’Reilly reluctantly returning to his family home. A childhood steeped in dysfunction with his family of criminals made him determined never to return, despite his attempts to leave the past behind, comes home to bid a final farewell to his recently-departed cousin Duncan. Though Jay likes to think he’s turned his back on his community, his lost past still holds a bleak fascination for him. His father, a well-known smuggler in the city with a wealthy, far-reaching empire, comes to him with a proposal. As Jay contemplates the job offer he reacquaints himself with the place and the family he left, only to find that it is exactly as hard, cold and unwelcoming as he remembered. With the anxieties and troubles of Northern Ireland as a back drop, Jay’s story becomes one of fear, family ties and self-worth. When the truth behind his father’s offer is finally revealed, Jay faces the primal struggle between familial bonds and moral obligations.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blog: Crime Fiction Ireland

There’s a very good chance you’re already familiar with Crime Fiction Ireland, a new (or new to me, at least) blog that pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin. Edited by Lucy Dalton, the blog covers crime and mystery fiction of all hues, TV and film, provides author profiles and a ‘What’s On’ slot, and also offers a Short Fiction selection. To be honest, it’s what Crime Always Pays would be if I had about three heads and sixteen hands … or would have been, I should say, because now that Crime Fiction Ireland is on the case, I’m kicking back, hanging up the blogger’s equivalent of the quill, and enjoying the show. If I was you, I’d get over to Crime Fiction Ireland right now, bookmark it, and never come back here again. Toodle-pip …

Review: DEADLY INTENT by Anna Sweeney

One of the reasons why Irish crime writing took so long to develop as a body of work is that Ireland lacked the kind of large, anonymous urban settings where crime fiction tends to thrive. In the era before the Celtic Tiger, in an Ireland long characterised by its squinting windows, the identity of a murderer was often known even before the gardaí arrived on the scene, which rather undermined the suspense element of a ‘whodunit’. There were exceptions, of course – we can go all the way back to Gerald Griffin’s The Collegians (1829), or more recently Patrick McGinley’s superb Bogmail (1978) – but for the most part it took a very brave writer to place an Irish murder mystery in a rural setting.
  The rise of Irish crime fiction has redrafted the parameters, of course, to the point where Anna Sweeney can set her debut novel Deadly Intent (Severn House) on the Beara Peninsula and hardly raise an eyebrow (the novel was originally published as gaeilge as Cló Iar-Chonnacht in 2010). The story opens with the discovery of an unconscious woman on a remote hiking trail; her name is Maureen, and she is a guest at Nessa McDermott’s country house Cnoc Meala (Honey Hill). Ambitious young garda Redmond Joyce (“clean-scrubbed and shiny”) is keen to solve the crime as a ticket away from the easy-going pace of life in southwest Ireland to the more adrenaline-charged environs of a big city posting, but soon the entire community is shocked to discover that Maureen’s alleged attacker, millionaire businessman Oscar Malden, has been brutally killed. As a media feeding frenzy descends on Beara, and the gardaí begin to wonder why Nessa’s husband Patrick has departed the country for Malawi at this crucial time, Nessa – herself a former investigative journalist – sets out to discover the truth behind Oscar Malden’s murder.
  What transpires is a murder mystery that firmly inhabits the ‘cosy’ end of the crime fiction spectrum. “Jack makes it all sound like a James Bond film,” observes one of Nessa’s friends about a tabloid hack making hay from the tragic events, but the country house, the idyllic rural backdrop and Nessa’s status as an amateur detective suggest that Deadly Intent is a charming throwback to the ‘Golden Age’ of 1930s mystery fiction. That said, the story is highly contemporary: one sub-plot involves a Russian ship and its crew abandoned by its owners in a nearby port, while drug smuggling on the southwest coast also features, as does illegal international arms dealing.
  One of the novel’s most striking features, unsurprisingly, is its use of the dramatic landscape, which is vividly sketched by Sweeney: “Behind them, Beara’s great backbone of the Caha mountains stretched out along the peninsula. Ahead of them … the dark waters of Lake Glanmore in the embrace of shapely hills; beyond it, a quilted blanket of fertile farmland and abundant hedges; and on neighbouring Iveragh peninsula across the slender rim of the bay, the tip of Carrantouhil, the country’s highest mountain, rising up to the clouds above the muscular shoulders of the Reeks.”
  As beautifully written as it is, there is perhaps a little too much by way of descriptive digression in Deadly Intent, and Nessa’s roundabout way of investigating the murder – which has, admittedly, the ring of truth; in rural Ireland, as with the Beara’s topography, the quickest route between two points is rarely a straight line – nevertheless slows down the main narrative and the central investigation. Those with patience will be rewarded, however, by a mystery with plenty of twists and turns, and one that is entirely faithful to its time and place. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Examiner.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Publication: The US release of THE LOST AND THE BLIND by Declan Burke

I’m heading off on holidays in the next couple of days, which is nice, although it does mean that I’ll be away from the desk when THE LOST AND THE BLIND (Severn House) gets its official US release, on April 1st [insert your own April Fool gags here]. Quoth the blurb elves:
This gripping Irish thriller is an intriguing new departure for comic noir writer Declan Burke.
  “A dying man, if he is any kind of man, will live beyond the law.” The elderly German, Karl Uxkull, was senile or desperate for attention. Why else would he concoct a tale of Nazi atrocity on the remote island of Delphi, off the coast of Donegal? And why now, 60 years after the event, just when Irish-American billionaire Shay Govern has tendered for a prospecting licence for gold in Lough Swilly? Journalist Tom Noone doesn’t want to know. With his young daughter Emily to provide for, and a ghost-writing commission on Shay Govern’s autobiography to deliver, the timing is all wrong. Besides, can it be mere coincidence that Karl Uxkull's tale bears a strong resemblance to the first thriller published by legendary spy novelist Sebastian Devereaux, the reclusive English author who has spent the past 50 years holed up on Delphi? But when a body is discovered drowned, Tom and Emily find themselves running for their lives, in pursuit of the truth that is their only hope of survival.
  So there you have it. The early word has been quite positive, I’m delighted (and, as always, relieved) to say. 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 … Not many authors are capable of successfully pulling off such a complex plot, but Burke does and makes it seem effortless.” – Library Thing
  If that sounds like your kind of book, you can find THE LOST AND THE BLIND here. I thank you for your consideration …

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: John Banville on Georges Simenon’s THE BLUE ROOM

John Banville had a fine piece in last weekend’s Irish Times, in which he reviewed Georges Simenon’s THE BLUE ROOM, which has just been republished by Penguin Classics. Sample quote:
“Like all writers he wrote for himself, but before and after writing he had a lively sense of his audience: he wrote for everyone, and anyone can read him, with ease and full understanding. Not for him the prolixity of Joyce or the exquisite nuances of Henry James. This is what Roland Barthes called “writing degree zero”, cool, controlled and throbbing with passion.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Event: ‘Irish Noir’ at Harrogate

The Harrogate festival – wisely, in my opinion – corral almost all of the appearing Irish writers onto one panel this year, as Stuart Neville, Steve Cavanagh, Brian McGilloway, Adrian McKinty and Eoin McNamee take to the stage under the banner of ‘Irish Noir’ (William Ryan also appears at Harrogate, albeit on a different panel). The festival runs from July 16 to 19, with the Irish Noir event taking place at noon on Friday 17th. The very, very best of luck to whatever unfortunate is scheduled to moderate that particular panel …
  Elsewhere, a couple of stand-out highlights of the festival include Val McDermid interviewing Sara Paretsky, and Arnaldur Indridason interviewed by Barry Forshaw.
  For all the details, clickety-click here

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Richard Beard

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?

I love the Robert B. Parker Spenser novels (‘you remember more stuff that doesn’t make you money than anyone I know’). I’m also a big fan of the Australian crime writer Peter Temple. My favourite of his has to be The Fatal Shore, and if I were Australian and utterly brilliant, that’s the novel I’d like to have written.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?

Ah, I know the answer to this one - not anyone realistic. Otherwise I could become that person in real life. I’d like to be someone so obviously fictional that I’d live an entirely novel experience. Maybe one of the characters from The Da Vinci Code, though none of the ones that get killed (though how would it feel to be killed, if I were fictional?)

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?

Most writers will tell you, a little righteously, that no reading should feel guilty. I’m not among them. When nothing else hits the spot I go to the library and take out a celebrity biography. I’m a sucker for the rags (not always that raggy) to riches (usually surprisingly rich). Recent under-the-cover reads have included Chris Evans and Alex James. But like McDonalds, one is enough for a while.

Most satisfying writing moment?

There comes a time towards the end of writing a novel when it feels as if the plane is coming into land. The effort of getting this unwieldy contraption off the ground, then finding a destination, then managing the fuel (add other flying metaphors to taste) is almost at an end. Now there are small tweaks that can make significant improvements, and my fingers feel the music in the keyboard. I’m overcome by a physical sense of elation. The euphoria doesn’t last, but that’s the best bit.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?

This feels the wrong way round – Crime Always Pays should be recommending Irish crime novels to me. I’m pretty up to speed on the brilliant Stuart Neville, and would recommend him to anyone who enjoys a bit of finely-crafted mayhem.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?

Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, with its dapper gangsters and eternal grudges, has to count as a crime novel (among other possible classifications). And even though the rhythms of the language are one of the great pleasures of the Kevin Barry reading experience, the world he creates is intensely visual. He writes a future in techni-colour, and a daring film-maker who could combine the Bohane plot with a cinematic equivalent to Barry’s language could make a film like no other.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?

I like being in charge of my own time, when I am. Not so keen on the anxiety, but mustn’t grumble.

The pitch for your next book is …?

Italian-born Claudia Moretti, as she approaches retirement as a state-employed Speculator, is assigned to Messiah Watch. In particular, she responds to reports of cults where the leader claims to be immortal - from experience the government knows that immortality is trouble. There’s an easy way to refute the claim to immortality, but when Claudia is sent to small town Ephesus in bible-belt Georgia, nothing is quite as it seems.

Acts of the Assassins is the second book in a trilogy, following Lazarus is Dead. This is a ‘trilogy’ in a very loose sense – all three books are self-contained. At the end of Acts of the Assassins all the disciples are dead, except John. This is his story. (Which doesn’t yet have a title – suggestions welcome).

Who are you reading right now?

I’m reading a Bible commentary by Richard Bauckham called The Theology of the Book of Revelation, and alternating that chapter by chapter with an idiot’s guide to physics: The Quantum Universe: Everything that Can Happen Does Happen, by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw. You did ask.

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

Would have to be reading. Other writers (especially all of them gathered together) have much more of interest to say than I do.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Never knowingly unedited.

Acts of the Assassins by Richard Beard is published by Harvill Secker.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Publication: A POSTCARD FROM HAMBURG by JJ Toner

It sounds a lot like the title of an Alan Furst spy novel, but A POSTCARD FROM HAMBURG is the third in JJ Toner’s WWII series of crime thrillers to feature Kurt Müller, and the sequel to THE BLACK ORCHESTRA. Quoth the blurb elves:
1943. WWII is raging in Europe. Kurt Müller is living in London. While working for British Intelligence he discovers a photograph of his girlfriend, Gudrun, among the possessions of a German agent. Then he gets a postcard from Gudrun, posted in Germany, and he knows the Gestapo has taken her…
  For all the details, clickety-click here

Friday, March 20, 2015

Review: THE DEFENCE by Steve Cavanagh

Irish author Steve Cavanagh’s debut novel The Defence (Orion, €16.99) offers what is likely to prove the most implausible opening to a thriller this year, as New Yorker Eddie Flynn – ex-lawyer, ex-con artist – finds himself abducted by the Russian mafia, dressed as a walking bomb, and sent into a courtroom with 48 hours to ensure mobster Olek Volchek is found not guilty in his murder trial. One man’s implausible, of course, is another man’s bravura opening gambit, and Cavanagh’s high-concept legal thriller, barrelling along at a furious pace as Eddie schemes to escape the Russians’ clutches and take his revenge, reads a lot like a courtroom drama penned by Lee Child for Jack Reacher’s younger, more hot-headed but equally resourceful brother. Cavanagh, who is himself a Belfast-based solicitor, isn’t particularly interested in legal niceties here: The Defence is a gas-to-the-floor thriller that pulls out with tyres smoking and takes no prisoners until it judders to a halt 400 pages later. If subtlety is at a premium, there’s no mistaking the ambition: this is story-telling with the kind of verve and chutzpah last seen in an Irish debut crime novel in Stuart Neville’s The Ghosts of Belfast. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Publication: MICK MURPHY’S LAW by Michael Haskins

The Florida branch of the Irish crime writing diaspora – aka Michael Haskins – publishes the ninth offering in his series featuring Mick Murphy, MICK MURPHY’S LAW. To wit:
A pregnant woman friend of Mick Murphy’s is beaten to death. As she lies dying Murphy promises to make the killer face justice. His pursuit takes him and his mismatched eclectic friends to the Ocala National Forest looking for a meth lab run by outlaw bikers. That brief, deadly encounter leads them to the Tit-4-Tat strip club in Dayton Beach where they run into a FBI/DEA/ATF stakeout and investigation. Cooperation is short lived and the Feds are not what they seem as Murphy and his friends head back to the forest and St. Johns River to get their man.
  For all the details, clickety-click here

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Festival: Mountains to Sea

The Mountains to Sea festival runs from March 18-22 this year, and while Irish crime writers are for the most part notable by their absence, there’s a couple of very interesting events you might want to take note of. To wit:
Wednesday March 18th
Jilly Leovy, Ghettoside
In conversation with Declan Hughes

Jilly Leovy’s Ghettoside is true crime like you never heard before, leaving all the crime thrillers and blockbuster TV series for dead, which is how a frightening number of young black Angeleno males end up. Based on a decade embedded with the homicide units of the LAPD, this gripping, immersive work of reportage takes the reader onto the streets and into the lives of a community wracked by a homicide epidemic. Ghettoside provides urgent insights into the origins of such violence, explodes the myths surrounding policing and race, and shows that the only way to fight the epidemic successfully is with justice.

Post-Ferguson, this is the book you have to read to understand the issue of policing black neighbourhoods. Jill Leovy has been a reporter for the LA Times for 20 years, and has been embedded with the LAPD homicide squad on and off since 2002. In 2007 she masterminded and wrote the groundbreaking Homicide Report for the LA Times, ‘an extraordinary blog’ (New Yorker) that documented every one of the 845 murders that took place in LA County that year.

Local author Declan Hughes is well known to festival audiences. Hailed as ‘the best Irish crime novelist of his generation’, his latest novel is All the Things You Are.

Venue: dlr Lexicon / Time: 6.30pm / €10/€8 Concession

Friday March 20th
SJ Watson & Paula Hawkins
Chaired by Sinéad Crowley

How well do we know our family, our closest friends? How well do we really know ourselves? S.J. Watson’s new novel, Second Life, explores identity, lies and secrets in a nail-biting new psychological thriller. Watson’s debut novel, Before I Go To Sleep, became a phenomenal international success. It has now sold over 4 million copies around the world and has been made into a hit Hollywood film starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.

Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train has become a publishing sensation before it has even hit the shops with early reviewers anointing it as “the new Gone Girl”. The central conceit is brilliant. Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. Each time it waits at the same signal, overlooking a row of houses. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but now everything’s changed.

Sinéad Crowley is Arts & Media correspondent with RTÉ News. Her debut thriller Can Anybody Help Me? was published in 2014.

Venue: Pavilion Theatre / Time: 6.30pm / €10/€8 Concession
  For all the details, including how to book your tickets, clickety-click here

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Overview: The St Patrick’s Day Rewind

A very happy St Patrick’s Day to one and all, and to celebrate the day that’s in it I thought I’d offer up some of the highlights of Irish crime writing (aka Emerald Noir) from the blog – book reviews, interviews, features, etc. – from the last five years or so. To wit:
An interview with Tana French on the publication of BROKEN HARBOUR
In short, Tana French is one of modern Ireland’s great novelists. Broken Harbour isn’t just a wonderful mystery novel, it’s also the era-defining post-Celtic Tiger novel the Irish literati have been crying out for.

An interview with Alan Glynn on the publication of WINTERLAND
“I think that the stuff you ingest as a teenager is the stuff that sticks with you for life,” says Glynn. “When I was a teenager in the 1970s, the biggest influence was movies, and especially the conspiracy thrillers. What they call the ‘paranoid style’ in America – Klute, The Parallax View, All the President’s Men, Three Days of the Condor, and of course, the great Chinatown … We’re all paranoid now.”

A triptych of reviews of John Connolly’s THE LOVERS, Stuart Neville’s THE TWELVE (aka THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST) and Declan Hughes’ ALL THE DEAD VOICES:
“But then The Lovers, for all that it appears to be an unconventional but genre-friendly take on the classic private eye story, eventually reveals itself to be a rather complex novel, and one that is deliciously ambitious in its exploration of the meanings behind big small words such as love, family, duty and blood.”

“Whether or not Fegan and his ghosts come in time to be seen as a metaphor for Northern Ireland itself, as it internalises and represses its response to its sundering conflicts, remains to be seen. For now, The Twelve is a superb thriller, and one of the first great post-Troubles novels to emerge from Northern Ireland.”

“As with Gene Kerrigan’s recent Dark Times in the City, and Alan Glynn’s forthcoming Winterland, Hughes’s novel subtly explores the extent to which, in Ireland, the supposedly exclusive worlds of crime, business and politics can very often be fluid concepts capable of overlap and lucrative cross-pollination, a place where the fingers that once fumbled in greasy tills are now twitching on triggers.”

A review of Eoin McNamee’s ORCHID BLUE
“Students of Irish history will know that Robert McGladdery was the last man to be hanged on Irish soil, a fact that infuses Orchid Blue with a noir-ish sense of fatalism and the inevitability of retribution. That retribution and State-sanctioned revenge are no kind of justice is one of McNamee’s themes here, however, and while the story is strained through an unmistakably noir filter, McNamee couches the tale in a form that is ancient and classical, with McGladdery pursued by Fate and its Furies and Justice Curran a shadowy Thanatos overseeing all.”

A review of Jane Casey’s THE LAST GIRL
On the evidence of THE BURNING and THE LAST GIRL, Maeve Kerrigan seems to me to be an unusually realistic and pragmatic character in the world of genre fiction: competent and skilled, yet riddled with self-doubt and a lack of confidence, she seems to fully inhabit the page. This was a pacy and yet thoughtful read, psychologically acute and fascinating in terms of Maeve’s personal development, particularly in terms of her empathy with the victims of crime.

Eoin Colfer on Ken Bruen’s THE GUARDS
“I was expecting standard private-investigator fare, laced with laconic humour, which would have been fine, but what I got was sheer dark poetry.”

A review of Adrian McKinty’s THE COLD COLD GROUND
As for the style, McKinty quickly establishes and maintains a pacy narrative, but he does a sight more too. McKinty brings a quality of muscular poetry to his prose, and the opening paragraph quoted above is as good an example as any. He belongs in a select group of crime writers, those you would read for the quality of their prose alone: James Lee Burke, John Connolly, Eoin McNamee, David Peace, James Ellroy.
  For updates on the latest on all Irish crime writers, just type the author’s name into the search box at the top left of the blog …

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pre-Publication: HIDE AND SEEK by Jane Casey

Jane Casey has been rather busy of late – new books on the way, Edgar nominations, etc., – but she’s somehow found time to write the third novel in her YA mystery series, HIDE AND SEEK (Corgi Childrens). To wit:
“If I hadn’t walked into the room at that moment, maybe everything would have worked out differently. Maybe everything would have been all right after all . . .”
  Port Sentinel may be a beautiful seaside tourist trap, but in the short time Jess Tennant has lived there, it has seen its fair share of tragedy. Tragedy that somehow Jess keeps getting caught up in.
  A schoolgirl from the town goes missing, leaving her diary behind and a lot of unanswered questions. Has she run away from her unhappy home or is there something much more sinister going on? And can Jess find her before it’s too late?
  HIDE AND SEEK will be published in August. For all the details, clickety-click here

Friday, March 13, 2015

Pre-Publication: A SONG OF SHADOWS by John Connolly

A new Charlie Parker novel tends to be one of the highlights of my reading year, but John Connolly’s forthcoming A SONG OF SHADOWS (Hodder & Stoughton) promises to deliver even more bang for buck than usual. Quoth the blurb elves:
Grievously wounded private detective Charlie Parker investigates a case that has its origins in a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War.
  Recovering from a near-fatal shooting, and tormented by memories of a world beyond this one, Parker has retreated to the small Maine town of Boreas to recover. There he befriends a widow named Ruth Winter and her young daughter, Amanda. But Ruth has her secrets. She is hiding from the past, and the forces that threaten her have their origins in the Second World War, in a town called Lubsko and a concentration camp unlike any other. Old atrocities are about to be unearthed, and old sinners will kill to hide their sins. Now Parker is about to risk his life to defend a woman he barely knows, one who fears him almost as much as she fears those who are coming for her.
  His enemies believe him to be vulnerable. Fearful. Isolated.
  But they are wrong. Parker is far from afraid, and far from alone.
  For something is emerging from the shadows ...
  A SONG OF SHADOWS will be published on April 9th.
  Incidentally, the image above is one of a series from Mexican graphic artist Humberto Cadena, who has created a whole gallery of heroes and villains from Charlie Parker’s world. For more, clickety-click here
  Finally, yet more good news for Connolly fans: John is currently preparing a second volume of NOCTURNES, which will include his Edgar- and Anthony Award-winning short story, ‘The Caxton Lending Library and Book Depository’. The collection should appear in September. For lots more news from John, including a US reissue of the entire Charlie Parker series, clickety-click here

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Essay: ‘The Irresistible Rise of Irish Crime Fiction’

There’s a very nice essay on the rise – irresistible, it seems – of Irish crime fiction over at the 746 Books blog, which provides a concise appraisal of the last decade or so in Irish crime writing. Sample quote:
“What Ireland couldn’t offer pre-Celtic Tiger, pre-Stormont was anonymity. The country was too small, too parochial with a lack of big cities. With the economic growth of the boom all that changed and suddenly cities were booming and immigration was on the rise. It was possible to be a stranger in Ireland, to go unnoticed. With the crash came a growing distrust in politicians and those in power and coupled with a lack of faith in the Catholic Church, the old hierarchies were being disassembled and the lines between good and bad were being blurred even more. Society was no longer a hierarchy of authority with the priests and the politicians at the top. The gangsters were as likely to be in expensive offices as on the streets. Society had been shaken up and that makes for great subject matter for crime writers.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here.
  Meanwhile, Claire Coughlan contributes a very nice piece to the Irish Times’ ‘In Praise Of’ series celebrating Irish women writers, with a short but heartfelt paean to Tana French. You’ll find it here.