“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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Review: THE WING-ORDERLY’S TALES by Carlo Gébler

Carlo Gébler’s The Wing-Orderly’s Tales (New Island), set in the fictional Loanend Prison in Belfast, is comprised of a series of anecdotes about Harold ‘Chalky’ Chalkman’s fellow prisoners, with Chalky’s position as orderly and go-between making him a confidante of both prisoners and prison guards. The narrative form is unusual, lying somewhere between a short story collection and a novel (the stories are closely linked but self-contained), as Gébler details the sad, quirky, blackly funny and tragic events that befall a host of characters, all of them known by their prison nicknames (‘Eskimo’, ‘Smurf’, ‘Sweet Gene’, ‘Magic’). In the past Carlo Gébler was a creative writing tutor at the Maze and writer-in-residence in Maghaberry, and he invests these stories with a gripping verisimilitude, not least when outlining the perverse unofficial rules that apply in prison – one character, for example, is brutally punished for hating the paramilitaries who killed his mother. It’s a slim but powerful book that subtly explores the early causes and life-long consequences of criminality, its underlying theme summed up in the advice the recidivist Chalky is offered – “It may be a jail, but that doesn’t mean you have to act like it’s one.” – but ultimately rejects. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times as part of April’s crime fiction column. Other titles reviewed are: MAESTRA by LS Hilton, THE TRAP by Melanie Raabe, BLOOD WILL OUT by Walter Kirn and SIX FOUR by Hideo Yokoyama.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Coming Soon: A SHOCKING ASSASSINATION by Cora Harrison

Cora Harrison is better known for her Mara mystery novels about a Brehon judge in the 15th century, but A SHOCKING ASSASSINATION (Severn House) is the second in a historical crime series featuring Reverend Mother Aquinas (the first, A SHAMEFUL MURDER, was published last year). To wit:
Reverend Mother Aquinas is asked to prove a young man’s innocence in the second of this atmospheric new Irish historical mystery series.
  Ireland. 1924. Reverend Mother Aquinas is buying buttered eggs in the Cork city market at the very moment when the city engineer, James Doyle, is assassinated. Although no one saw the actual killing, a young reporter named Sam O’Mahoney is found standing close to the body, a pistol in his hand, and is arrested and charged. Following a desperate appeal from Sam’s mother, convinced of her son’s innocence, the Reverend Mother investigates - and, in this turbulent, war-torn city, uncovers several other key suspects. Could there be a Republican connection? Was James Doyle’s death linked to his corrupt practices in the rebuilding of the city, burned down more than a year ago by the Black and Tans? Cork is a city divided by wealth and by politics: this murder seems to have links to both.
  A SHOCKING ASSASSINATION will be the 51st – yes, that’s 51st – novel published by the prolific Cora Harrison when it arrives on May 31st.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Publications: Irish Crime Fiction 2016

Herewith be a brief list of Irish crime fiction titles published / to be published in 2016, a list I’ll be updating on a regular basis throughout the year. To wit:

DEAD SECRET by Ava McCarthy (January 14)
BLOOD AND WATER by Siobhain Bunni (January 19)
RAIN DOGS by Adrian McKinty (January 21)

BURIED by Graham Masterton (February 11)
THE DROWNED DETECTIVE by Neil Jordan (February 25)
BISHOP’S DELIGHT by Patrick McGinley (February 29)

PENANCE by Kate O’Riordan (March 1)
WHAT SHE NEVER TOLD ME by Kate McQuaile (March 3)
A SAVAGE HUNGER by Claire McGowan (March 10)
THE DOLOCHER by Caroline Barry
PIMP by Ken Bruen & Jason Starr (March 18)
TWISTED RIVER by Siobhan MacDonald (March 22)
SIREN by Annemarie Neary (March 24)
SISTERS AND LIES by Bernice Barrington (March 26)
BLACK ROSE DAYS by Martin Malone (March 31)
THE WING-ORDERLY’S TALES by Carlo Gébler (March 31)

ALL THINGS NICE by Sheila Bugler (April 4)
A TIME OF TORMENT by John Connolly (April 7)

THE CITY IN DARKNESS by Michael Russell (May 5)
DISTRESS SIGNALS by Catherine Ryan Howard (May 5)
THE LAST DAYS OF SUMMER by Vanessa Ronan (May 5)
LITTLE BONES by Sam Blake (May 17)
THE PLEA by Steve Cavanagh (May 19)
A SHOCKING ASSASSINATION by Cora Harrison (May 31)

PARADIME by Alan Glynn (June 2)
GIRL UNKNOWN by Karen Perry (June 2)
TREACHEROUS STRAND by Andrea Carter (June 2)
THE DEAD RINGER by Triona Walsh (June 20)

LYING IN WAIT by Liz Nugent (July 7)
SO SAY THE FALLEN by Stuart Neville (July 7)

THE TRESPASSER by Tana French (August 11)
THE CONSTANT SOLDIER by William Ryan (August 25)

THE WONDER by Emma Donoghue (September 8)
BENEATH THE SURFACE by Joanne Spain (September 22)

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Siobhan MacDonald

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?
REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier. An excellently woven and deeply atmospheric novel. Still resonates all these decades later.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Probably a cross between Lynda La Plante’s Jane Tennison and a rehabilitated Claire Underwood from House of Cards. Jane Tennison because she’s focused, clever, and sticks to the task in hand. She’s also pretty cool. She doesn’t flap and is decisive as those around lose their heads. Claire Underwood from House of Cards - for her comportment and delivery, not her Machiavellian machinations, fascinating though they may be.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I try to keep up with the goings-on of the redoubtable Ross O’Carroll Kelly, aka Rosser.

Most satisfying writing moment?
Occasionally when I revisit a sentence or a passage in editing and think to myself – Oooh, did I write that? That’s really not so bad.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
Too many great Irish crime novels by female authors in particular to single just one out. “Here come the girls …” I say.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Tana French’s BROKEN HARBOUR. Moody tension all the way.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing is fretting that your work will never reach the world at large. Then being terrified when it does. The best thing is convincing yourself that you really earned another latté and a slice of carrot cake after all that typing.

The pitch for your next book is …?

There are two sides to every story, but sometimes, just sometimes, you find that there are three.

Who are you reading right now?
Anne Enright’s THE GREEN ROAD.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Come back when you’re in a better mood.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Punchy. Pacy. Pithy.

Siobhan MacDonald’s debut TWISTED RIVER is published by Penguin (US) and Canelo (UK).

Monday, April 18, 2016

One to Watch: THE LAST DAYS OF SUMMER by Vanessa Ronan

Texas-born but now living in Ireland, Vanessa Ronan publishes her debut novel THE LAST DAYS OF SUMMER (Penguin Ireland) next month. To wit:
She can forgive. They can’t forget.
  After ten years in the Huntsville State Penitentiary, Jasper Curtis returns home to live with his sister and her two daughters. Lizzie does not know who she’s letting into her home: the brother she grew up loving or the monster he became.
  Teenage Katie distrusts this strange man in their home but eleven-year-old Joanne is just intrigued by her new uncle.
  Jasper says he’s all done with trouble, but in a forgotten prairie town that knows no forgiveness, it does not take long for trouble to arrive at their door ...
  THE LAST DAYS OF SUMMER will be published on May 5th. For more on Vanessa Ronan, clickety-click here

Friday, April 15, 2016

Coming Soon: TREACHEROUS STRAND by Andrea Carter

Andrea Carter follows up her debut DEATH AT WHITEWATER CHURCH – which I thoroughly enjoyed – with TREACHEROUS STRAND (Constable), in which amateur sleuth solicitor Ben O’Keeffe returns. To wit:
A woman’s body washes up on a remote beach on the Inishowen peninsula. Partially-clothed, with a strange tattoo on her thigh, she is identified as Marguerite Etienne, a French woman who has been living in the area.
  Solicitor Benedicta ‘Ben’ O’Keeffe is consumed by guilt; Marguerite was her client, and for the second time in her life Ben has failed someone who needed her, with tragic consequences. So when local Sergeant Tom Molloy dismisses Marguerite’s death as the suicide of a disturbed and lonely woman, Ben cannot let it lie.
  Ben uncovers Marguerite’s strange past as a member of a French doomsday cult, which she escaped twenty years previously but not without leaving her baby daughter behind. Disturbed by what appears to be chilling local indifference to Marguerite’s death, Ben pieces together the last few weeks of the French woman’s life in Inishowen. What she discovers causes her to question the fragile nature of her own position in the area, and she finds herself crossing boundaries both personal and professional to unearth local secrets long buried.
  TREACHEROUS STRAND will be published on June 2nd. For more on Andrea Carter, clickety-click here

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

One to Watch: THE DEAD RINGER by Triona Walsh

Triona Walsh publishes her debut thriller THE DEAD RINGER (Liberties Press) in June, a novel laced with political corruption and blackmail. To wit:
A young sex worker, who bears a disturbing likeness to the Taoiseach’s daughter - Kate Cunningham - is found murdered in a Kildare wood. Could the Taoiseach have killed her? Kate investigates who she is and why she was killed. But can she solve the case before she too ends up on the mortuary slab?
  THE DEAD RINGER will be published on June 20th. For more on Triona Walsh, clickety-click here

Monday, April 11, 2016

Coming Soon: GIRL UNKNOWN by Karen Perry

Crime writing partnership Karen Gillece and Paul Perry have established a terrific reputation for psychological thrillers with their first two novels, THE BOY THAT NEVER WAS and ONLY WE KNOW. Their third novel is GIRL UNKNOWN:
When Zoe Barry walks into Professor David Connolly’s office and announces that she is his daughter, he is left reeling. Suddenly his family - imperfect, flawed, but working - is trying to find space for someone new.
  But Zoe’s stories don’t quite add up and lies become indistinguishable from truths. The family struggle to make sense of whether she is a sister, a daughter, a friend, an enemy. But no one could have expected where it all might end.
  Because they have let into their home a girl that they do not know. And now everything they have built has begun to violently, determinedly, break apart.
  GIRL UNKNOWN will be published on June 2nd.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Publication: ALL THINGS NICE by Sheila Bugler

ALL THINGS NICE (Brandon), the third of Sheila Bugler’s novels to feature DI Ellen Kelly, was published on April 4th. To wit:
Charlotte Gleeson is living the life she always dreamed of, but it's nothing like she imagined. Her daughter hates her, her husband is having an affair, her drinking is out of control. And now she’s the prime suspect in a murder investigation …
  For DI Ellen Kelly, this is her first big investigation in eight months – since she let a serial killer get away. There’s an awful lot riding on a good result, which means keeping up the pressure on Charlotte Gleeson and her messed-up family.
  As Ellen investigates, it becomes clear the Gleesons are harbouring some dangerous secrets. The more she digs, the more she uncovers … and the closer she comes to a deadly confrontation.
  For more from Sheila Bugler, clickety-click here

Friday, April 8, 2016

One to Watch: LITTLE BONES by Sam Blake

Sam Blake is the pseudonym of Vanessa O’Loughlin, the founder of writing.ie, who makes her publishing debut with LITTLE BONES (twenty7), the first of a series featuring kick-boxing Garda Cathy ‘Cat’ Connolly. To wit:
Twenty-four-year-old Garda Cathy Connolly might be a fearless kick-boxing champion but when she discovers a baby’s bones concealed in the hem of a wedding dress, the case becomes personal.
  For artist Zoe Grant, the bones are another mysterious twist in her mother’s disappearance. Then her grandmother, head of the Grant Valentine department store empire is found dead, and a trail of secrets is uncovered that threatens to shake a dynasty.
  In a story that moves from London’s East End to the Las Vegas mafia, one thing is certain – for Cat, life will never be the same again.
  LITTLE BONES will be published on May 17th. For more, clickety-click here