“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.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Funky Friday’s Free-For-All Interweb Mash-Up: Let’s Just See If We Can Get Through This Without Saying ‘Baloohaha’, Shall We?

Don’t get us wrong, we’re delighted to have something fresh to read on Ray Chandler, but are we really still making ‘The Case for Raymond Chandler’? “The creator of Philip Marlowe has been called an imitator and a hack, but he deserves his lonely, disillusioned corner in the American literary canon,” says Allen Barra over at The Salon … As far as we’re concerned, that case is closed, gone and very probably lurking at the back of the lost-luggage rack in Brazzaville: Chandler was Hemingway with a sense of humour, end of story … The rather nifty Aussie crime blog After Dark My Sweet has the long-list for the 2007 CWAA Ned Kelly Awards, the results of which will be announced at The Age Melbourne Writers’ Festival in September … Update-Update-Update … Benjamin Black, aka Vincent Banville’s brother, didn’t scoop the €10,000 Irish Fiction Award at the 37th Listowel Writers’ Festival for Christine Falls, the gong and substantial cheque going instead to Roddy Doyle (right) for his novel Paula Spencer. And there was us thinking a crime novel actually had a chance of winning. We are such silly spoons … Sorry about the short notice, folks, but Belfast’s cracking crime bookstore No Alibis hosts an intriguing night’s writerly wibbling tonight, when Christopher Phillips holds forth on philosophy and love in the 'Socrates Café' in order to plug his new book, Socrates In Love. This coming after the (ooo-er, missus) monthly Candle and Mirror poetry evening … Finally, the news that Jason Starr and Ken Bruen are releasing Slide, another collaborative effort, through Hard Case Crime this coming October sent us scurrying to YouTube to track down Bernard and Manny’s attempt (below) to co-write a children’s book, The Elephant and The Monkey, about a liquorice-eating, trombone-playing, bottle bank-dwelling (erm) mouse. Sure, ’tis genius, to be sure. That’s all for this week, folks – enjoy the weekend and y’all come back now, y’hear?

Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peas

A few interviews with writerly types, people – Brian McGilloway bares his soul to the rather wonderful It’s A Crime! (Or A Mystery), revealing that it was a visit to Belfast’s emporium of darkness, No Alibis, way back when which first got him trudging down those mean streets, and that he read nothing but crime fiction from then on in. “I went in browsing one day," says Brian (right) "and came out with a compendium of the first three Colin Dexter novels and a copy of Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue. From then, I read all the Morse and Rebus novels before widening my reading further. Since then, crime fiction has been the main element of my reading. Until I started writing it ...” Meanwhile, He Who Must Be Called Bateman turned up on the Front Row on BBC Radio 4 during the week, to tell the world at large why he’s no longer allowed to call himself Colin, and why the covers of his books have been (unfairly, wethinks) remodelled along the lines of Christopher Brookmyre’s. Although he probably has a word or nineteen to spare for his latest offering, I Predict A Riot … Finally, it’s an oldie-but-goodie: Julie Parsons (left) on BBC’s Woman’s Hour, from last year, where she talks about the recently published The Hourglass and discusses the disappearance of her father at sea when she was a child, which she reckons was a huge influence on her developing an interest in psychological thrillers, and the culture shock involved in moving from her native New Zealand to Ireland as a young girl … and while we’re at it, here’s an interview Julie did with Shots Mag on the release of The Hourglass. No, don’t thank us – we’re only doing our job. Badly.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 719: Adrian McKinty

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?
The Big Sleep is hard to beat. The prose, the style, the attitude … I’m also a big fan of Jim Thompson - The Grifters is one of my favourites. And now that we’re on to this, I also wish I’d directed Blood Simple, one of the greatest noir movies ever.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Anything by Alan Moore, but I don’t feel that guilty about it.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Sad to say I’ve yet to have a truly satisfying writing moment.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
One of the gems by Ken Bruen, but I ain’t gonna pick one.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Her Last Call to Louis MacNeice. Love that book and it really should be a movie.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing is that your friends and family think you’re rich when in fact you’re still dirt poor. The best thing is no heavy lifting.
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
Banville thinks of the crime genre as a low form of writing, in fact he barely considers it writing at all. It wouldn’t do at all to have the great literary name John Banville connected with such a tabloid medium.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Sparkly, cosy, pixie-dust.

Adrian McKinty’s The Bloomsday Dead is the must-buy novel this year

Ssssshhh … It’s All So Unquiet

There’s probably no bad time to be John Connolly (left), but right now the reviews for The Unquiet are coming in like choppers at Da Nang. Says JC Patterson over at the Clarion Ledger: “Enter the dual world of Connolly, where the tangible and the metaphysical often collide, emitting sparks of blood, phantom whispers and the secrets that entomb the living.” Hurrah! As for The Patriot News: “His Parker novels are far from typical whodunits but are multilayered offerings that peel away the soul of the world-weary Parker and most anyone who comes in contact with him,” says Mary O. Bradley. Delia Barnard of the Sunday Life weighs in with, “A lush story with rich characterisation … with frequent touches of wry humour as the good, the bad and the grey characters are cleverly picked over for the readers’ rich enjoyment.” Nice. Then there’s The Telegraph: “Connolly’s books often contain passages of horrific violence, but The Unquiet is less violent and more subtly disturbing. As usual, there is an element of the supernatural, taking the reader into a place where the real, contemporary world is touched by something from our worst nightmares, and he does it in lyrical, almost poetic language which grips and chills.” Woo-hoo! Had enough? Didn’t think so … Here’s an interview with Big Bad John over at the deliciously monikered Culture and Carnage, in which our hero waxes rhapsodical about the delights of his work in progress, The Reapers, and, erm, getting old: “It’s strange to think that The Reapers will be my tenth book. It really doesn’t seem that long ago since I was writing Every Dead Thing. Then again, I only have to compare my jacket photos then and now, and count the grey hairs, to realise that, actually, it was quite a while ago …” Jeez, John - we'll trade you a few non-grey hairs for a few million of your sales, eh?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

At Play In The Fields Of The Glynn

If you haven’t come across Alan Glynn’s drug-fuelled masterpiece The Dark Fields yet, you should have – “Scary and brilliantly written, the book should have been a best-seller,” says Declan Hughes over at the The Rap Sheet (scroll down), while on its release the New York Times chipped in with, “There are enough twists and thrills to keep readers up late – even without resorting to illegal and dangerous substances.” Unsurprisingly, The Dark Fields has been picked up for the big screen treatment – the film rights have been sold to Miramax, and pre-production is ongoing as you read. Meanwhile, Glynn is beavering away on his latest, Winterland – which may or may not be about paranoid crazies consuming vast amounts of, erm, ‘snow’. We’ll keep you posted (sniffle) …

This Week We're Reading ... Bishop's Pawn and Cannon Law

I’m not quite dead yet, etc. KT McCaffrey’s latest, Bishop’s Pawn , opens with series heroine Emma Boylan reading her obituary in the newspaper where she works, and subsequently prying the lid off a particularly nasty can of squiggly yokes slithering up out of her past – in other words, it’s a sequel of sorts to Revenge (1999). A multi-character piece with an impressive quotient of psychopathic villains, Bishop’s Pawn is a movie-in-waiting … we’re thinking Hilary Swank as Emma, and the Crime Always Pays staff as the motley crew of psycho freaks. Hey, call us, we’re free … Meanwhile, our nomination for the most underrated private dick scribbler anywhere is Vincent Banville, whose hardboiled(ish), painfully self-aware shamus John Blaine got a third outing in Cannon Law (2001). “An excellent new crime novel from one of Ireland’s foremost exponents of the genre,” reported Read Ireland, describing Banville’s writing as “Gripping, funny and stripped to the bone … packs a punch like a fist in a velvet glove.” Banville treads a fine line between paying homage to the Chandleresque tropes and unmercifully taking the proverbial out of said tropes … and then Blaine, being Blaine, stomps all over that delicately crafted prose. We like it a lot, and wethinks you will too.

The Weekly Seamus Smith Update: You’ve Not Seen Nothing Like The Mighty Quinn

So what more do we have to do to convince you of Quinn’s greatness? What’s that? You want actual proof in the form of reviews? Okeley-dokely … The folks over at Amazon are only drooling, to wit: “Quinn encompasses both intense bluntness and delicious irony … alongside moments of sharp humour. Harrowing and enlightening, Quinn cleverly shows the shock and the appeal of altered perception.” And then there’s: “By turns exciting, intriguing and horrifying the book never fails to keep you hooked.” But stay! There’s more! “While American Psycho shocked through the creativity of the various murders, Quinn shocks through its cold-hearted premeditation.” And our own Ken Bruen, who should know a thing or seventeen about fictional psycho killers, reckons that, “The hero, Gerd Quinn, is straight from the tradition of Goodis through Thompson to the wry, sly humour of a Willeford.” Quoth the Times: “For all its lightning exposition of Quinn’s swaggering amorality, this first novel proves Smyth to be a truly original, febrile talent.” As for ourselves, you know where we stand: on a pulpit proclaiming Quinn’s genius. Do the right thing, people – you know it makes sense.

Flick Lit # 12: Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

“One of the nastiest novels ever published in this country,” declared Time. “The real nihilist of the hard-boiled school, the laureate of the blank wall,” claimed Geoffrey O’Brien. The writer was Horace McCoy, the novel Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1948). By then French writers such as Sartre and Gide were ranking McCoy alongside Faulkner, Steinbeck and Hemingway; Simone de Beauvoir went so far as to suggest that McCoy’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1935) was, “the first existentialist novel to have appeared in America.” A veteran of WWI, a pulp writer for Detective-Dragnet, Detective Action Stories and Black Mask, McCoy’s experience as a struggling actor in Hollywood during the Depression provided the material for the downbeat melodramas They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, No Pockets in a Shroud (1937), and I Should Have Stayed Home (1938). He finally found work in Hollywood, but as a screenwriter for B-movie westerns. By the time the French writers ‘discovered’ his novels in the ’40s, McCoy was, he claimed, “broke, depressed and fat.” Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye offered redemption. The novel follows Ralph Cotter, a Phi Beta Kappa scholar who remoulds himself as an immoral killer after his breakout from prison. Once out, Cotter organises a shakedown of a corrupt small-town police chief, dupes a millionaire’s daughter into falling for him, and generally engages in a relentless one-man assault on the mores of middle America. An unusual blend of rapacious action and contemplative self-examination from a reprehensible anti-hero, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye prompted Kirkus Reviews to predict: “This will probably be quarantined from libraries … (it) has a literate, nerve-lacerating, whip-lashing effectiveness.” Happily, James Cagney happened to be looking for “a really nasty role” that would cement his celluloid persona as Hollywood’s premier screen bastard. While his role in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) resembled a reprise of Tom Power, his vainglorious gangster in Public Enemy, gone were the facial pyrotechnics, the grapefruits mashed in moll’s faces, the pathetic self-delusions. Instead Cotter was a phlegmatic character, whose sadistic outbursts of violence were all the more terrifying for their juxtaposition with Cotter’s charisma. Scripted by Harry Brown, the film was directed by Gordon Douglas, who cast a veritable who’s-who of B-movie noir stalwarts, among them Barbara Payton, Ward Bond, Steve Brodie and Barton MacLane (Bond and MacLane had teamed up before, as cops sharking Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon). The direction is classically taut, allowing Cagney every opportunity to chew the scenery and spit it back in the face of the audience. Even allowing for what the audience expected of a Cagney role, Ralph Cotter was a departure for 1950’s America. Callous immorality was one thing, but the leading man viciously beating on his on-screen girlfriend (Payton) was a slap in the face too far. The movie was duly panned by the critics, who obviously knew as much about what ticket buyers wanted back then as they do now … On the back of the film’s commercial success, McCoy sold an original script, Scalpel (1951) to Hall Wallis Productions; again, both novel and film were winners. McCoy was working on a new novel, The Hard Rock Man, when he suffered a heart-attack. When he died in 1955, at the age of 58, his widow had to sell his books and jazz collection to pay for his funeral.- Michael McGowan

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Mid-Week Interweb Mash-Up: Being Honest, It’s Just A Pathetic Excuse To Use The Word ‘Baloohaha’

Nice to see Eoin McNamee (left) isn’t forgetting his crime roots, even if his up-comer, 12:33 (etc.), concerns itself with the surely-no-crime-involved death of Princess Diana: “When I started looking into the story, which I had never taken any particular interest in before, there was a kind of noir, murky atmosphere to it … I feel that, if the art is right, then the moral dimension of the book will follow that.” Well said, Big Mc … The Guru over at greencine.com seems to be impressed with the movie of Pat McCabe’s The Butcher Boy, which we consider Ireland’s The Killer Inside Me: “By the time Sinead O’Connor shows up as a vision of the Virgin Mary, dispensing bad advice for our protagonist, the movie’s already winnowed its way among the greatest – and strangest – coming-of-age films of all time,” says the Guru. Crikey – someone point that man in the direction of Colin McCabe’s tome on the movie (right), courtesy of the Cork University Press … Elsewhere, the dicks at Detectives Beyond Borders have been wondering about the great comic crime novels. “I'd make room for Bust by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr as well as Bruen’s Brant and Roberts series,” says our intrepid investigator in the same breath as he mentions Joe Gores, Donald Westlake, Bill James and Janet Evanovich … There’s a pod-cast with Benjamin Black over at KRCW, in which Benjie very probably talks about writing ‘n’ stuff … Eurocrime offers its verdict on John Connolly’s The Unquiet: “Connolly is always good on tortured souls and tortured locations where evil resides and this is one of his most powerful atmospheric plots,” reckons Carla McKay … The Rap Sheet (scroll down) nailed Declan Hughes for its mammoth ‘You’re Still The One’ series, with Hughes nominating Alan Glynn’s Dark Fields (left) as his ‘smart and scary and brilliantly written’ underrated classic … Finally, Shane Hegarty was kind enough to plug Crime Always Pays over at his Present Tense blog, so we’re returning the favour, and ditto for FinleyNine, the interweb rapscallion who reckons ‘Sam Millar has discriminating taste’ … which is nice. Oh, and can we say ‘baloohaha’ one more time? Yes? Thank you.

Yet More Monk-y Business

Former legal-type and current Benedictine monk at Glenstal Abbey, Andrew Nugent’s Second Burial (aka Second Burial For A Black Prince) gets its paperback release in August through Headline. An “excellent Irish police procedural” according to these here folks, Nugent’s second reprises Inspector Quilligan and Molly Power of the ‘Irish Police Force Murder Squad’ from his debut The Four Courts Murder as they try to work out why a Nigerian man was murdered in the Dublin mountains, the pair aided and abetted by the victim’s brother, Jude. “A bit slow at times,” claims New Mystery Reader, but “Second Burial is worth the effort.”

The Embiggened O # 213: A Trumpet, A Trumpet, Our Kingdom For A Trumpet!

Actually, International Noir reviews our first humble offering, Eightball Boogie, and not The Big O, but ‘The Embiggened Eightball’ doesn’t have the same ring to it. Anyhoo, the gist beginneth thusly: “There is classic noir popping up in what would once have been unusual places …” and winds up with … “Most of the time, at least, Harry (Rigby) is almost as funny as he thinks he is, and the comedy keeps the story rolling along between the sudden eruptions of violence. If Harry’s imitation of the voice of a hard-boiled private eye isn’t your cup of tea, stick with the book anyway – Burke’s novel is not just a pulp revival, it’s genuine neo-noir.” Blimey! We’re thrilled skinny-ish! If any of the above intrigues you, we refer you to the Eightball reviews on Amazon UK, where Jon Jordan of CrimeSpree Magazine reckons, “It’s fast-paced and filled with wonderful characters through out … A PI story that moves forward like freight train.” Meanwhile, over on Amazon US, Hank Wagner loses the run of himself entirely: “Burke is in full control the entire way, providing a plethora of witty one-liners and a couple of action sequences so tense and well rendered they’ll leave you breathless. A fun, satisfying read, Eightball Boogie marks the arrival of a new master of suspense on the literary scene.” Mmm, yummy! You know what to do, people – schlep on over to Amazon and make with the food-stamps bartering malarkey today! Or tomorrow! Or, y’know, don’t bother at all. We’re cool …

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 84: Bill Crider

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'm not at all sure I can answer this. On any given day, the answer would probably be different. For today, The Big Sleep, followed closely by The Maltese Falcon and The Chill.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I never consider reading to be guilty, but at the moment I'm reading the new paperback edition of Harold Robbins's The Carpetbaggers. That's about as guilty as it gets.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Any time I finish a book or story.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Can I call The White Trilogy a single novel? That's what got me started reading Ken Bruen. I'm not really qualified to answer, though, not knowing as much as I should about the Irish crime novel. Certainly the "middle period" Jack Higgins books are wonderful stuff. Or does Higgins count? He was born in Belfast, I think.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Again I'm not really qualified to answer. How about John Connolly's Every Dead Thing? The right director might do well with that one.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Best: the huge royalty checks. Worst: there's a worst?
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
Branding? Like, if you buy a Ford, you want a Ford. If you buy John Banville, you want "literature."
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Laid-back, wry, rural.

Edgar-nominated Bill Crider recently published Murder Among The OWLS

Monday, May 28, 2007

Yep, This One Will Run And Run ... And Run

What's that? You can't get enough of Garbhan Downey's (right) boyish good looks and roguish charm? No, we neither - so why not jump over here for an extract from his rather spiffing political farce about an Irish presidential race, Running Mates (first line: "No offence, Taoiseach," said the dumpy redheaded man, "but you’re talking out of your hole."). "Another of his irresistibly funny satirical novels," it says just about here-ish ... Meanwhile, Garbhan's also the editor of Verbal, a superb publication that goes out monthly with the Belfast Telegraph, and they're always on the look-out for nubile young literary flesh to sink their not always entirely metaphorical fangs into. If you're a writer and it's reviews you're after, drop Garbhan a copy of your opus at: Garbhan Downey, Editor, Verbal, Verbal Arts Centre, Mall Wall and Stable Lane, Bishop St Within, Derry, BT48 6PU. We did it, and look at us now - forced into indentured service plugging Running Mates ad infinitum. Still, it's a good life if you don't weaken.

Smells Like Pre-Teen Spirit

How do we love thee, Siobhan Dowd? Let us count the ways … Well, she’s modest for starters: “Although I’m not a crime writer as such,” says Siobhan (right), “I’m launching a mystery story for 9- to 12- year-olds, inspired by Sherlock Holmes, on June 7th. It is called The London Eye Mystery and is about a boy who goes up the London Eye – and doesn’t come down. His cousins Ted and Kat become sleuths in their urgent efforts to find out what has happened to him.” Hurrah! We’re off to a book launch! Or not, as the case may be … The launch, which takes place in the London Eye itself, is invite-only, but Siobhan will be signing copies in Waterstone’s of Trafalgar Square that evening – probably. “I am not sure if I can stage my own disappearance at the launch party, in Agatha Christie style, as I’m too keen on remaining for the champagne!” Hmmm, modest and a champagne quaffer to boot – our kind of gal. Oh, and did we mention that the lady in question was recently crowned a ‘literary lion’ by the Sunday Times? No? We really should tell you about that sometime …

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: The Colour of Blood by Declan Hughes

When Shane Howard, a Dublin dentist, receives compromising pictures of his 19-year-old daughter accompanied by a note demanding 50 grand, he calls in the professionals. Enter one Ed Loy, your standard troubled private investigator with a passion for the gargle who somehow manages to avoid cliché; by the end, Loy has uncovered about ten murders all tangled up with one family’s tortured history. The myriad subplots zig-zagging through the novel keep the pace at a steady gallop and Hughes weaves together a complicated story with aplomb, without sticky endings or facile conclusions. The cast of characters – which includes a South Dublin princess, a supposedly reformed criminal whose pots of cash have bought his acceptance at an exclusive rugby club, and a femme fatale who calls the shots – often play for laughs, but they never run into caricature. It is contemporary Dublin, however, which is the novel’s central character. Its new wealth, opportunity, development and shiny apartments may shimmer at the surface but it’s the city’s nefarious underbelly that becomes a much more prominent persona – with all its attendant greed, exploitation, criminal gangs, hypocrisy, snobbery and the repression of old.- Claire Coughlan

Listowel: Tough On Crime, Tough On The Writers Of Crime

Another Irish literary festival, another who’s-not-who of Irish crime fiction. Yep, it’s the turn of Listowel Writers’ Week to virtually ignore the scruffy cornerboys and assorted low-lives who scribble nasty words on grubby pages, with only Benjamin Black’s Christine Falls (left) representing the nauseatingly popular genre. Nominated alongside Roddy Doyle (Paula Spencer), Gerard Donovan (Julius Winsome), Pat McCabe (Winterwood) and Claire Kilroy (Tenderwire), Black is on the short-list for the Irish Fiction Award 2007, to be decided May 30 – even though his biog on the Writers’ Week site makes no mention of ‘Benjamin’, ‘Black’, ‘Christine’ or ‘Falls’. Odd, that – although yon blurb spoofs on about quite a bit about John Banville, for some bizarre reason. Anyhoo, we’re rooting (metaphorically, sadly) for Claire Kilroy (right), partly because she’s the only gal on the short-list (solidarity, sister) but mainly because she’s the hottest fox since they cremated Basil Brush. Boom-boom, etc. Seriously, though, there’s a €10,000 prize going for the Irish Fiction Award, which isn’t to be sneezed at, even if you do win it for (eeek!) writing a crime novel – eh, John?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Monday Review: Like, Are There Any Irish People Out There Who AREN'T Writing Crime Fiction?

A bumper crop of reviews this Monday, folks, kicking off with The Times’ take on John Connolly’s The Unquiet: “At times he approaches the spiritual and the supernatural, without falling into the abyss of total impossibility.” Which is, um, good, right? Cool … “Hugely under-rated among thriller writers,” Paul Charles gets the big-up from the Sunday Tribune, which reckons his latest Detective-Inspector Kennedy yarn, Sweetwater, is “one for that long air journey.” … Mystery Books is equally impressed with Ruth Dudley Edward’s latest, Murdering Americans: “Baroness Jack is a delightful character … in this entertaining and witty book.” Mmm, lovely. Next up is Alex Barclay, who “shows promise as a mystery writer, but she needs to make her characters behave more rationally,” warns the rather stingy Kansas City Star … “Be warned: even my scepticism did not prepare me for the ending of this book,” says The Book Chase of Ken Bruen’s The Dramatist. “I was stunned at its suddenness and power. (It’s) the first Ken Bruen novel that I’ve read without thinking about, and admiring, the author’s style more than the novel’s plot. Jack Taylor fans will consider this one to be a classic.” Crikey – do you want jam with that, sir? … Neville Thompson is well in with RTE’s Afternoon Show: “Mama’s Boys is a touching yet funny story starkly depicting life today,” say the Afternooners … Elsewhere, the Kirkus Reviews lauds Andrew Nugent’s Second Burial: “What shines throughout (is) the piercing compassion that crosses racial and national lines to embrace everyone who seeks the truth,” say Mr & Mrs Kirkus … “Irish-born Michael Collins is an astute chronicler of contemporary America, and this stylish campus thriller sees him at the top of his game,” clickety-clicks The Telegraph about The Secret Life of E. Robert Pendleton, while The Elegant Variation is tickled pink at Benjamin Black’s Christine Falls: “Those who feared Banville might turn in an overly literary effort needn’t worry … At the heart of the book is the coroner Quirke, a Banvillean creation on par with Alex Cleave and Freddie Montgomery.” A ‘Banvillean’ creation? Don’t confuse Der Blandville with Benjamin Black, bro – he won’t be best pleased.

Bruen Up A Storm

It’s tough keeping up with everything Ken Bruen (right, with the uber-glam Tess Gerritsen, righter) is up to these days, people. Apart from publishing Cross this side of the pond and American Skin over yonder Stateside, he’s released A Fifth of Bruen through Busted Flush, a compilation of all his early novellas and short stories featuring an intro by Allan Guthrie. “A beautiful book ... a must-have for all Bruen’s fans,” says Jon Jordan of CrimeSpree Magazine over at Amazon, and he should know … Meanwhile, Bleak House have released These Guns For Hire, a hardboiled short story collection featuring Ken’s Punk, and you can hear him reading it over here somewhere-ish … and if that wasn’t enough, there’s his second collaboration with Jason Starr, Slide, which will be published by Hard Case Crime in October with the delicious tag-line, ‘Beauty is only sin deep’. Oi, Bruen – leave some room on the shelves for the rest of us, ya bum!

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 214: Charles Ardai

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?
The Big Sleep.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Dan Brown.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Appending the words ‘The End’ to the final page of a book I’ve worked on for years.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
I can’t pretend an exhaustive enough knowledge of the contenders to make this determination – but it wouldn’t surprise me if the right answer was a book with the words “by Ken Bruen” on its spine.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
The Guards, Ken Bruen.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: Rarely possible to make a living at it, even if you’re good. Best: If you do it right, a little piece of you will live forever.
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
Damned if I know. I only know why I do: because I'm a sucker for clever anagrams.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Sorrowful, disillusioned, bleak.

Charles Ardai is an Edgar-winning writer and co-publisher of Hard Case Crime

The Disembiggened O # 312: No Trumpets, There Are None

Quel fromage! Phantom 102.5 FM’s The Kiosk subjected our humble offering, The Big O, to something of a rather vigorous colonoscopy on Saturday and the results – you have been warned – aren’t pretty. If Nadine O’Regan (not pictured, right) wasn’t such a total babe, she’d be off our Christmas card list until, oh, November at least. But she is, so she isn’t, if you follow our drift. In the spirit of interweb openness, accountability and transparency, etc., you can hear the ten or so minutes of the review here or hereabouts, and a big shout-out to Critical Mick for doing the knob-twiddling on the diggery-wibbly technology bit. Meanwhile, The Rap Sheet has taken our prints in their rather wonderful ‘overlooked crime classic’ series, for which we’ve nominated Paul Cain’s Fast One. “Reading Fast One was like travelling to Antarctica,” says this enlightened soul (scroll down a tad), “once you arrived, there was nowhere else to go.” Sweet.

The French Correction

It’s barely a couple of weeks since we reported that Tana French’s (right) In The Woods was getting mixed reviews, and lo! here we are sautéing our words in a light balsamic. To wit: “French, in addition to the quiet, chilling psychological study that forms the bedrock of In The Woods, has crafted a first-rate mystery,” says the Book Reporter, while the Daily American chips in with: “French writes as if she were far more experienced as a novelist. Her pacing is fast, her characters are vivid and well-developed and her plotting is so engaging that it's hard to put down. This is one of the best mystery novels this year.” So far, so fantastic. But tarry awhile, there’s more … “In the Woods is as creepily imaginative as it gets,” reckons USA Today, while the Irish Indo goes one or twelve better: “This astonishing first novel weaves a web of intrigue to confound even the most astute; and its denouement, swift, shocking and sublimely executed, will remain with the reader long after the final page has been turned.” Blimey! Rock on over to Book Opinion to get a round-up of In The Woods’ recent reviews, and also to catch the gal du jour yakking it up in an interview …