“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.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Funky Friday's Free-For-All: Yep, 'Tis Another Interweb Mash-Up Baloohaha

A good week for Declan Hughes, folks - his debut The Wrong Kind of Blood gets the "packs a punch to the gut and leaves a hole in the heart" treatment from the exquisitely titled Hell Notes, while the follow-up, The Colour of Blood (right), incites, "apocalyptic, Faulknerian tensions" over at International Noir. Ooo-er, Missus ... International Noir also gives Gene Kerrigan's The Midnight Choir the hup-hey, purring that, "few crime novels are as well written as this, and few as ambitious in scope and depth." Mmmmm ... silky smooth. Elsewhere, Bill Crider gives a shout-out to the Busted Flush edition of Vicki Henderson's Miami Purity, which boasts a foreword from Ken Bruen, while Duane Swierczynski's delicious Secret Dead blog reveals that the 2008 NoirCon will celebrate the achievements of "hardboiled / noir publishing legend Dennis McMillan, as well as Ken Bruen, our noir brother from another (Irish) mother." Criminy! Finally, in a brotherhood of man nod to our international brethren, we note that Elmore Leonard has released his 10,007th novel, Up In Honey's Room (left), at the grand old age of 159 ... the bloody slacker. That's all for now, folks and enjoy the weekend ... y'all come back here now, y'hear?

"Oi! You Birding To My Talk?" Brian McGilloway Gives It Verbals. Again

A graduate of PanMacmillan's 'controversial' imprint New Writing, Brian McGilloway (right) drops the inside skinny on New Writing's zero tolerance for paying advances in an interview in the latest edition of Verbals: "The deal is that you aren’t paid an advance on the New Writing imprint but you get a higher end royalty. The imprint publishes your first two books and if they take the second you then move onto the main list. I know there was a lot of criticism when the imprint first launched but I’ve found them very good to deal with. You’re working with the full Macmillan team and it gives you a chance to build a readership and reputation." Mmmmkay, but does it do what it says on the tin? Well, PanMacMillan have recently published Borderlands, the second Inspector Devlin thriller, and will be publishing the third, fourth and fifth in the series. So, yes - it works. Unpublished authors, get thee hence to New Writing post-haste ... Meanwhile, the rest of you could do worse than check out Verbals, which is edited by Garbhan Downey of the rather tasty Running Mates fame ...

The Vengeful Virgin (Ahem) Rides Again: Who Else But Hard Case Crime?

If the names Day Keene, David Goodis, Wade Miller and Gil Brewer mean anything to you, you'll understand why we're all a-quiver about Hard Case Crime - even if they'd done nothing else but republish Brewer's The Vengeful Virgin (right, complete with 'tastefully titillating' factor intact) after 40 years, they'd still be sanctified in our eyes. But lo! - there's more ... Following on from their collaboration on Bust, Ken Bruen and Jason Starr release Slide (left) through Hard Case this coming October. Our cup overrunneth, floweth down our manly chests and trickleth through our thick undergrowth(eth) ... oops, sorry. Ahem. Jump over here for an advance preview / extract thingy from Slide, and try not to dribble over the keyboard while you're at it.

The King Is Dead, Long Live Colin Downey

Those krazy kids at the Irish Film Institute and their support for independent filmmaking flummery, eh? We're not sure what to expect from King for a Day, but we do know that it's the brainchild of Colin Downey, who's been working without funding with co-guerilla filmmaker Ivan Kavanagh for several years now. The 57-minute black-and-white, subtitled flick centres on 'a French-speaking mother and daughter living in an Irish townland supposedly perched on top of a New Jersey goldmine' and 'arrives by way of fabliaux, fairytales and Freud'. Erm, exsqueeze us? Anyhoo, King for a Day screens alongside Ivan Kavanagh's The Solution (71 minutes) on Monday, May 21. Sure, what else would you be doing? Pirates of the Caribbean doesn't open until the 24th ...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 625: Garbhan Downey

Yep, it's rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire pick-'n'-mix Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...
What crime novel would you most like to have written?
I’m pretty torn here. The Big Sleep because it is immortal; Impostors (George V. Higgins) because the dialogue is pitch perfect; or just maybe The Sacred Art of Stealing (Christopher Brookmyre) because the plotline is so sharp, I can even forgive CB for being both younger and smarter than me.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Jack Higgins – and yes, I’d like to be remembered as a champagne-drinker, but when no-one’s looking I’ve been known to lash back flagons of cider.
Most satisfying writing moment?
As a journalist, reporting on Ireland’s opening match in the 1994 World Cup match for the Irish News. Still got the ‘Italy me arse’ t-shirt in the wardrobe. As an auteur, spending hours creating the apposite aphorism to encompass my heroine’s angst at her decision to forsake her true love. As all writers know, there’s an intense feeling of satisfaction in digging out the mot juste. (Settled on: “If only Cinderella hadn’t told the prince to go fuck himself.”)
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Loved Patrick McGinley’s Bogmail.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Running Mates – why do you think I put all the dialogue in?
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: waiting. Best: when the waiting ends.
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
Never saw the point in writing under a pseudonym and then telling everybody it’s you. (Unless of course John Banville isn’t his real name either …)
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Fast, sharp, profane.

Garbhan Downey's Running Mates is out now

Crime Fiction: It's Just One Rung Up The Ladder From Your Actual Porn, Isn't It?

Contracted to review crime fiction for the Washington Post five years ago, Patrick Anderson had something of a Damascene revelation - some crime fiction writers could actually, y'know, write. Lummee! And that crime fiction has gone mainstream! Corks!! "Look at the American bestseller lists any Sunday," says Patrick over at his Guardian blog, plugging his book The Triumph of the Thriller, "and you'll find that at least half of the novels listed are thrillers of one sort or another ... Today, suspense, not sex, is the engine that drives popular fiction." And not only that, but he's lauding " ... the wildly creative work of Irish-born Ken Bruen and Adrian McKinty. Great crime fiction is being written today on both sides of the Atlantic, and no one should be ashamed of enjoying it." Yowsa! He likes us, he really, really likes us ...

"Alibis? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Alibis ... Oh."

No half-measures for Dave Torrans and the No Alibis crew when they go celebrating their 10th anniversary - not only will the occasion see the launch of John Connolly's (right) The Unquiet, but also the launch of No Alibis' first publication, a special limited-edition version of Connolly's The Book of Lost Things. And as if that wasn't enough, Declan Hughes (left) will be on hand to launch The Colour of Blood. Crikey! A stellar cast, no less ... It all kicks off at Belfast's Ormeau Baths Gallery at 6pm on Saturday 19th, with music provided by The Winding Stair and Cat Malojian, and is scheduled to run, rather ominously, 'until late'. Don't say you weren't warned ... and tell 'em Crime Always Pays sent ya.

This Week We're Reading ... Of Wee Sweetie Mice And Men and Streetwise

An angrier, tipsier Carl Hiaasen loose in New York foiling the IRA's plans for world domination against a backdrop of a heavyweight boxing world title fight? It could only be Colin Bateman. Boasting the verbs 'slabber', 'mizzle' and 'gulder', Of Wee Sweetie Mice And Men (right) is a "fast and furious" tale that "throws in black humour that has you laughing out loud at the most awful of situations." Which is, to be fair, what Bateman does best ... Streetwise (left) is a more sober affair, being a compilation of short stories written by inmates in an Irish prison and edited by Neville Thompson. Based on real-life experiences, for the most part, the collection is a mixed bag but certainly worth dipping into. Says Critical Mick: "Snooty critics will turn up their starched spats and whine in a D4 accent, 'Oh, pshaw! All these facts has already been well established, I daresay!' Critical Mick will kick their fancy pants." Don't say you haven't been warned, Snooty Critic-types ...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What KT Did Next: Author In 'Writes Another Book' Shocker!

He may stop a tad short, perhaps, of looking 'rather pleasantly like a blond satan', but KT McCaffrey (right) is definitely in touch with his inner Spade in this photo-op with the Meath Chronicle from last month. The point of the exercise? To promote the release of the latest Emma Boylan thriller, Bishop's Pawn, which was published, erm, back in January. Ah well, better late than never, eh? This time the patented McCaffrey neat twist has Emma reading her own obituary, and finding herself dragged into the apparent suicide of a bishop's illegitimate daughter - which Emma witnessed herself. It's doing very well for itself over in the UK, thanks for asking ... Oh, and better late than never # 2: anyone who missed out on McCaffrey's previous Boylan, The End of the Line (2003), can catch up with an extract here ...

The Thick Plottens: An Occasional Interweb Mash-Up Thingy

A nice little plug for Declan Hughes' The Colour of Blood in the Wall Street Journal, in which Laura Lippman (What The Dead Know) gives Deco the thumbs up: "He's doing a private-eye series set in Dublin. He's a good writer and Ireland today as a setting has a sense of shame and secrecy that the U.S. has lost. One of the hard things about being a crime writer now is determining what secrets people will still go to great lengths to keep.The Color of Blood is a straight homage to Ross Macdonald set in modern Ireland, a family story that goes back 30 years." Mmmmm, lovely ... Not so lovely is the Sacramento Bee's description of fair Adrian McKinty (left): "McKinty - whose publicity photo looks like a mug shot taken at a police booking - is an Irish author who immigrated to the United States in the 1990s and knocked around New York City before landing in Colorado." A mug shot? No call for that, missus ... Finally, Gene Kerrigan gets the velvet treatment from the New York Times for The Midnight Choir. "Maverick cops who write their own rules out of frustration with the criminal justice system are hardly unknown in detective fiction, but it’s rare to find one whose decline and fall is as tragic as that of Detective Inspector Harry Synnott, the Dublin police officer who loses his soul in Gene Kerrigan’s gripping procedural," says Marilyn Stasio. Which is nice ...

Brought To Book # 29: Ken Bruen On Seamus Smyth’s Quinn

A Criminal Shame: Ken Bruen (right) on why Quinn should be 'The Friends of Eddie Coyle for this decade'.
"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’s Cross is out now

Giving Away Free Stuff: Ain't It Just Wunnerful?

Fans of freebies, giveaways and the whole interweb economy malarkey might want to jump over to John Connolly's blog, where he's giving away a copy of The Unquiet AND its accompanying CD to the fan who pitches in with the best review of their favourite album. Yep, it's that easy ... although you'll need to hurry, the comp finishes up on May 20. Crime Always Pays' collective choice is Rollerskate Skinny's Horsedrawn Wishes (1996), a masterpiece that stuck it to Mercury Rev before the Revsters got out of first gear. How cool were the Skinny? Well, even if they'd never recorded a note, they took their name from a line out of The Catcher in the Rye, which makes it the coolest name in the entire history of rock 'n' roll ... fact.

Lost Classics # 239: Death Is A Lonely Business, Ray Bradbury

Better known for his sci-fi, Ray Bradbury penned crime fiction's equivalent of Moby Dick as he stalked the great white page in an achingly atmospheric homage to Chandler, Hammett, Cain and Ross Macdonald set in the early 1950s in a foggy, seedy Venice (CA), a once glamorous resort that's now 'the last stop on the circus train for scores of old silent-movie stars and young writers trying to keep their art and their bodies alive'. Equal parts paean to lost youth and classic crime, it deserves a new readership every generation. Start here with the first chapter: "Venice, California, in the old days, had much to recommend it to people who liked to be sad. It had fog almost every night and along the shore the moaning of the oil well machinery and the slap of dark water in the canals and the hiss of sand against the windows of your house when the wind came up and sang among the open places and along the empty walks ..."

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dead Man Tells More Tales: Yep, It Has To Be Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty took a bow at No Alibis last week to read from the final part of the Michael Forsythe trilogy (Dead I May Well Be / The Dead Yard / The Bloomsday Dead), which was released in March. "Trademark dark lyricism, one great red herring, and a masterful plot twist," reckons Frank Sennett at Booklist, and most of these reviews tend to concur ... which is nice. If you missed out on Dead I May Well Be, jump over here for an extract. Tell 'em Danny Boy sent ya ...

New Hope For The Dead # 14: Kevin McCarthy

The latest Irish crime fiction up-'n'-comer to hit the streets is Kevin McCarthy, folks - he's putting the finishing touches to his novel Peeler as you read, a mystery set during the Irish War of Independence. The guy's got a way with words - check out his short story Work To Live over on the tough-as-shark-shit Thuglit (motto: Writing About Wrongs). Sample quote: "When the girl regained her balance under Jimmy Mack’s guiding hand, she smiled and he noticed she was wearing braces on her teeth. Might be a problem, he thought, time came to bake the Jimster premium, downhome sausage. But what the fuck? Girl was a weedho, no doubt. Other places, man can cook a sausage…" We’re thinking Pelecanos meets Willeford, people …

Uncle Travelling Critical Mick: No Street Too Mean, No Dick Too Private

Introducing the Literary Adventures of Uncle Travelling Critical Mick (right), an occasional series in which our favourite literary dilbertante accosts the great, the good and the atrociously mediocre. This Week: Mick meets Blandville …
“I met Banville there on Saturday. After speaking fluidly on many interesting points, he announced that he is only truly interested in what is going on inside his head. That's in the vein of the Greek philosophers. But remember: if you go far enough up your own ass, you'll ram up against the skullcap. I caught him at the door after the speech. The guy signed the book without even asking who to inscribe it to, and I had to pry hard for what little conversation squeaked out of him. News is that he just finished the sequel to Christine Falls last week. Thanks, John, but I think I'll focus my attentions elsewhere. PS – Latest scores from the Booker Prize race: John Banville 1 – 0 Critical Mick.”
Oooooh, get him. For similar wibblings of a bile-induced nature, get yourself over to Critical Mick’s place - you won’t regret it. Actually you will, and you won’t respect yourself in the morning either, but what’s a weekend without a few drunken fumblings after a bucket of ChateauNeuf de Pape, eh?

Always Judge A Book By Its Judge: Cora Harrison

Cora Harrison's My Lady Judge will be published Stateside in October: "a likeable protagonist, a clever mystery, and a richly textured rendering of sixteenth-century Ireland with its fascinating legal system," reckons Brenda Rickman Vantrease (The Mercy Seller). Harrison is a self-confessed fan of Ellis Peters and her Brother Cadfael books, and My Lady Judge, set in the Burren during the 16th Century, incorporates a feminine take on Brehon Law. Jump over here for an interview with the lady herself, or here for an extract from the novel ...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Monday Review: The Ken Bruen / John Connolly Slapdown!

Yet another cracking review for Ken Bruen, although the Washington Post is a little off the pace - they're reviewing Priest (right) when the rest of the world has its nose buried in Bruen's latest, Cross. Quoth the Post: "Bruen exploits the dark potential of the mystery form to its fullest, using his tale to pose disturbing existential questions only to come up with answers as hollow as Hammett's Maltese Falcon." Sweet. Closer to home, John Connolly's The Unquiet (left) gets the Irish Times treatment, to wit: "(It) demonstrates that the author is now just as interested in developing iconic themes and an intense atmosphere of unease as in creating more serial killers for Parker to blow away." It being the Old Lady, of course, you can't read the full review - she's subscription only, the mean tart. So here's Connolly's interview with The Independent and last week's Sunday Business Post review to make up for it ...

A Bruges Too Farrell # 119: Annnnnd ... That's A Wrap, Folks

Actually, the exterior shooting on In Bruges wrapped way back in March, and right now they're wrangling over interiors, editing, who gets snapped falling out of the pub looking like a refugee from Knackeragua, etc. - our money (a bent three-shilling piece) is on Col Farrell, naturally, pictured left after an Homeric night's work spent grappling with the ketchup bottle. The movie, which also stars Ralph Fiennes and Brendan Gleeson, is the largest production ever to hit Belgium, according to Focus Features, who've obviously never heard of the Blitzkrieg. Ah well ... the movie, directed by Martin McDonagh, isn't due until 2008, but you can jump over here for regular news updates.

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 197: Sean Harnett

Yep, it's rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire pick-'n'-mix Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...
What crime novel would you most like to have written?
Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky or From Hell by Alan Moore.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I strangely never feel guilty about what I read. What I do feel
guilty about is all those books I haven't read, including most Irish
crime fiction ...
Most satisfying writing moment?
Launching my first novel, Aisling Ltd, in Galway last year.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien, although I know that's
stretching the meaning of both 'crime' *and* 'novel' ...
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
My bad, but I haven't read enough Irish crime novels to offer any kind
of decent answer to this question.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: financial uncertainty. Best: imaginative freedom.
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
He's just following in a long tradition of 'serious' writers slumming
it in the genre underworld (Cecil Day Lewis wrote detective fiction as
Nicholas Blake). Maybe it's also because he, by his own admission,
has 'never liked fiction'. Could it be that his crime novels are more
valuable to him than his literary novels? Could it be that Benjamin Black is the 'real' writer and John Banville the pseudonym ... ?
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Not yet profitable!

Sean Harnett's debut novel, Aisling Ltd., is available from Hag's Head Press

The Embiggened O # 49: Blowing Our Own Trumpet? Pshaw - We're Investing In A Tuba

Modesty forbids us from printing the full review The Big O received from the Irish Examiner on Saturday (besides, they don't carry their Weekend supplement on-line, the nutbags), but it's not often you get get a review that name-checks Quentin Tarantino and Oscar Wilde, so we'll give you the juicy bits: "Eight Ball Boogie ... revealed a Tarantino-like mastery of snappy, clever dialogue ... The Big O cements Burke's reputation as one of the wittiest crime novelists around ... gifted with dialogue that jumps off the page ... faster than a stray bullet, wittier than Oscar Wilde and written by a talent destined for fame." Which is very nice indeed, and thank you kindly, Mr Mark Evans, sir. For all your early Christmas shopping at a hefty discount, get yourself over to the small but perfectly formed Hag's Head Press ...

Greene's Bookshop: No Worst, There Is Nun

It's a sign of the interweb times, people - Caroline Walshe's Loose Leaves in the Irish Times reports that Greene's Bookshop, which has been selling books on Clare Street, Dublin since 1843, is closing down its retail outlet and going on-line. It's worked a treat for Kenny's in Galway, but 'tis sad all the same. The good news? There's a sale on in Greene's from now until closing-down day, May 25 - so git yo funky asses down dere now, yo! Respeck, peace out.