“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, June 14, 2007

Funky Friday’s Free-For-All: Being An Occasional Interweb Bangers and Mash-Up

There was a time when Bloomsday took place on June 16 and was basically a pub crawl with fried kidneys on the side. No more! These days the organisers, bless their cotton socks, have extended Bloomsday so that it runs for the full week it actually takes to wade through Ulysses. Lateral thinking, chaps. The trio to your right are Anthony Cronin, John Ryan and Flann O’Brien, conniving over the schedule for ye firste evere Bloomsday pub crawle way back in 1954 (Paddy Kavanagh just out of picture, stealing pints). If you’re in Dublin tomorrow, beware you don’t get run down by a horde of stately, plump Buck Mulligans. Seriously, Grafton Street gets like Pamplona around tea-time … Still stately, no longer plump, Adrian McKinty of The Bloomsday Dead fame gets a nice big-up over at Page Turner, which runs a nifty Kirkus Review of Dead I Well May Be (“McKinty is a storyteller with the kind of style and panache that blur the line between genre and mainstream. Top-drawer.”) AND the opening chapter from the novel. Value for money, eh? Which reminds us: where the hell is the movie of DIWMB? Last we heard, Anonymous Content had picked it up, with Steve Gaghan on board to adapt and direct. Can anyone out there shed a little light? … The Dublin Writers’ Festival concludes this weekend, with Derek Landy of Skulduggery Pleasant fame yakking it up about his plans for world domination at The Ark, Temple Bar, at 3pm on Sunday. Book ahead, it’ll be a full house … Bad news for Charlie Parker fans: interviewed by The Sacramento Bee, John Connolly says, “I kind of have an idea of how it’s going to end. I don’t think I want to write 30 years of Charlie Parker.” Okay, but what’s the chances Parker returns as a supernatural PI some day? … Finally, Crime Always Pays regular George Zip sends us this two minute version of The Big Lebowski, courtesy of YouTube, in which the dialogue consists almost entirely of for unlawful carnal knowledge. To wit: “Dude, do you have to use so many cusswords?” “What the fuck are you talking about, man?” Or words to that effect. And that’s all for this week, folks – have a very fine weekend and y’all come here now, y’hear?

Captain Kirkus Boldly Goes

By way of Maxine Clarke's very funky Petrona blog comes news of the influential Kirkus Reviews ’07 First Fiction Spotlight, aka ‘Promising Debuts From Important New Voices’. Gene Kerrigan gets the hup-ya for The Midnight Choir, the follow-up to Little Criminals being his debut in the States: “Kerrigan has crafted an incisive portrait of contemporary Ireland through the matter-of-fact perspectives of officers on its legendary police force, the Gardai.” Which is nicer than nice … Meanwhile, two children’s authors get the big bump from Captain Kirkus. Eoin McNamee’s The Navigator is described as “… a crafty first piece of young-adult fiction …” while Derek Landy (see more down below somewhere) is the rave du jour: “Skulduggery Pleasant, his smart, stylish young-adult debut novel, has both substance and velocity, giving the story – a modern-day tale of sorcery, murder and menace, with a couple of sharp-tongued leading characters – a frightful excitement.” Okay – but yon Landy still isn’t dating Nicole Kidman, right?

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: Cross by Ken Bruen

Another outing for disgraced ex-Guard Jack Taylor: he’s on the PI trail in Galway, mainly looking into disappearing dogs, and while he’s off the sauce, he often feels that he might be better back on it. His beloved teenage sidekick just took some bullets on his behalf, so he’s got bona fide grief to add to all the other grief that he seems to effortlessly attract, one of which is premature old age. When a teenage boy is crucified and his sister is later immolated in her car, Taylor is asked to investigate by Ridge - an old friend from the force - in order to give her a better shot at promotion. His investigation unravels a vengeance killing that subsequently opened a Pandora’s box of unstoppable malevolence and Bruen cleverly references various snippets from Irish history, culture and folklore that parallel this. The murders and investigation themselves, as well as the murderer, aren’t quite fleshed out enough though, and seem almost incidental to Bruen’s walking tour of an ancient city - and, by extension, country - which have belatedly collided with the modern world. The old strangleholds of religion and poverty are gone, but the hypothesis throughout the novel appears to be that evil is immutable. Bruen has now deservedly established an international reputation, and although Cross dawdles at times, he more than makes up for the lack of pace with tension, atmosphere and humour. – Claire Coughlan

It’s Millar Time. All The Time

Why are we plugging Albedo One magazine if they’re into science fiction, fantasy and horror rather than good old-fashioned crime? Well, for starters they’ve got a sharp eye for a funky cover (exhibit A, right), which always goes down like the proverbial granite submarine at CAP. Better still, there’s a story by Sam Millar called The Barber lurking in their back catalogues. Best of all, though, Albedo One has an in-depth interview with Sam in their next issue, in which – along with yakking it up about a host of stuff ‘n’ such – Sam cuts loose about his upcoming novel, Bloodstorm, which is due in December / January and follows the fortunes of PI Karl Kane, a gumshoe with a very dark past who returns to the mean streets of Belfast with a hankering to avenge his mother’s rape and murder, more of which anon …

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This Landy Is Your Landy

With a Harry Potter-sized hole to fill, HarperCollins have turned to Derek Landy (right) and his skeletal anti-hero Skulduggery Pleasant, a dead wizard-type private eye who haunts the mean streets of Dublin with his 12-year-old sidekick, Stephanie. Word around the campfire is that Landy, a first-time author with screenplays (Dead Bodies, Boy Eats Girl) in his back pocket, received a seven-figure advance for a three-book deal. Nice work if you can get it, etc. So – is it any good? “A very tasty mix of the cinematic and the novelistic against which a cast of vivid heroes and villains play out the rip-roaring storyline,” says Publishing News. We like the sound of the villain plotting world domination, Nefarious Serpine, and so does Warner Bros: the Harry Potter franchise earned them some decent kicking around money, and now they’re taking a punt on Skulduggery Pleasant, with Landy to adapt the novel for the big screen. Are we jealous? Hell, it’s not like he’s dating Nicole Kidman or anything … he isn't, right?

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 819: Pat Mullan

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?
John Berendt’s Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Too many thrillers and crime novels, I’m afraid: just finished Jim Rollins’ Map of Bones, Lee Child’s One Shot, Simon Kernick’s Relentless, Harry Hunsicker’s The Next Time You Die, Doug Preston’s The Book of the Dead, Stuart MacBride’s Cold Granite, Bob Liparulo’s Germ, Gayle Lynds’ The Last Spymaster, Barry Eisler’s Choke Point … and I’m in the middle of Rob Browne’s (Robert Gregory Browne) Kiss Her Goodbye. To absolve my guilt, I have stacked up and waiting: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, John Berendt’s The City of Fallen Angels, Michael Collins’ The Secret Life of E. Robert Pendleton.
Most satisfying writing moment?
The chapter I just finished this morning in my WIP, Creatures of Habit.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
There are so many that it’s quite impossible for me to select one and call it the best. However, a work that falls into both the crime and the thriller category captured me when I first read it: Victor O’Reilly’s Games of the Hangman.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Well, I don’t know about movie, maybe TV series: definitely Ken Bruen’s White Trilogy series about Brandt and his corrupt, almost comical, associates. Let Jimmy McGovern do the screenplay and I say it’d match the ratings of The Sopranos! So, any film / TV producers reading this – what are you waiting for?
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: in the beginning the worst thing is rejection – until you find out that every writer, famous and obscure, suffers from the same chronic disease. Best: simply being a writer. I’ve done a lot of other things in my life but being a writer is, by far, the best!
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
I’d sure like to ask him that! If I run into him at one of the writers’ conventions, I promise you I’ll ask him. And John (er, Benjamin) if either or both of you are reading this, please let me know. He’s not the only one: recently, Peter Cunningham, using the name Peter Benjamin, (what’s with this word Benjamin anyway ?) published a thriller, Terms and Conditions. Why not do what Iain Banks does? For his science fiction, he simply adds a middle initial: Iain M. Banks. Still proud to have his own name on the genre!
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Fast-paced, intelligent, gripping.

Pat Mullan’s The Root of All Evil is on its way to a shop near you

This Week We’re Reading … Hard Cases and Mr Paradise

One of Ireland’s finest journalists, and now a superb crime fiction author (Little Criminals, The Midnight Choir), Gene Kerrigan is also a dab hand in the true crime genre. In the brief preface to Hard Cases (1996), a series of case histories Kerrigan covered for Magill magazine, the Sunday Independent and the Sunday Tribune, Kerrigan cuts to the heart of the appeal and philosophy of crime writing: “If there is a theme, it is the arbitrary nature of justice.” Published when the Celtic Tiger was only sharpening its claws, Hard Cases is a tersely written, powerful read and one that deserves a sequel. As for Elmore Leonard, where do you start? Mr Paradise, surprisingly enough, received some negative reviews, mostly – you’d imagine – from the kind of peon who wouldn’t know a cracking police procedural if it rubber-hosed him around the room. As always, a character-led, dialogue-driven black comedy of manners that just so happens to find itself up to its oxters in criminality when Detective Delsa investigates the murder of a wealthy ex-lawyer and his cheerleader playmate, Mr Paradise is the latest in a long, long line of Leonard novels that appears so effortlessly written that anyone who has ever scribbled a line will find their teeth gnashed down to stumps by the finale.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Thick Plottens: Yep, ’Tis Yet Another Mid-Week Mash-Up, To Be Sure

Has crime fiction lost Pauline McLynn to the perfumed Babylon of civilised scribbling forever? Even the title of her latest, Bright Lights and Promises, suggests as much … to say nothing of the cover. Was it something we said, Pauline? Something we didn’t say? How come you talk more to the Sunday Trib people than you talk to us these days? Don’t give up on us, baby – we can still come through, etc. … Staying with last Sunday’s Turbine, where Eoin McNamee cut to the heart of the matter about the appeal of 12:33: A Parisian Summer, his ‘factional’ account of the death of the Princess of Wails: “I started to find this Graham Greene noir-ish story line emerging from it. What’s interesting about it is I was very surprised no one else had picked up on it as a possibility for fiction because it has such great texture to it.” Texture? Never mind the width, feel the quality … Meanwhile, there’s a rare negative review for Ruth Dudley Edwards’ Murdering Americans over at Contra Costa Times (nope, we neither): “Although there’s quite a bit of humour here, the targets are painted so broadly that what should be rapier thrusts of wit become cannonballs launched at a flimsy wall.” There’s always one, and the exception proves the rule, we guess … Worth repeating is last February’s Time Out Chicago header for their review of Gerard Donovan’s Julius Winsome (‘The Hunter Is A Lonely Heart’), the review itself winding up thusly: “Donovan has a remarkable austerity in his prose, a beauty that is as entrancing as Winsome’s grief is contagious. The only trouble we had with the book was that we didn’t read it earlier. Out in October, but on our desk in January, if we had got to it around the time of its release, we surely would have included it when compiling our best reads of 2006.” Mmmm, lovely … Cora Harrison gets a big-up from the Globe and Mail for her historical crime novel, My Lady Judge: “This is a terrific debut of a historical series that promises something completely different. If the test of a good historical is a solid plot with an intricate setting, My Lady Judge is the real thing. I know nothing about the area of Ireland known as the Burren, or the ancient set of Irish laws known as Brehon, but Harrison seems to have brought it all vividly to life.” Finally, it’s three’s-a-charm for Ingrid Black, who releases the third in the Saxon series, The Judas Heart, with the former FBI agent back on the mean streets of Dublin investigating the brutal murder of an actress and the disappearance of her ol’ buddy, Leon Kaminski. Expect ‘Atmosphere, pace and tension,’ if the Sunday Times is to be believed …

Dear Andrew Pepper – Do You Have Any Idea Of How Hard It Is To Write A Header About You That Doesn’t Contain The Word ‘Salt’?

The ongoing argy-bargy at Crime Always Pays Towers about what constitutes an Irish crime writer degenerated into switchblades at dawn when Andrew Pepper's (right) name reared its metaphorical head. “Yay!” bellowed the belly-dancing dwarves; “Nay!” screeched the pox-ridden crones from below stairs. Anyhoo, a vote was taken and it was decided that perfidious Albionite Andrew Pepper doesn’t qualify for inclusion on CAP, even though he lives and writes in Ireland, has been nominated for a CWA / Duncan Lawrie New Blood Dagger yokey-bus (in opposition to – oh yes! – bona fide Hiberno-scribblers Brian McGilloway and Declan Hughes), and sees his Last Days of Newgate go paperback in July and then its follow-up, The Revenge of Captain Paine, appear in hardback in August. Sorry, Andrew, but the pox-ridden crones have spoken, sorry, screeched. You know the way it is, man.

Flick Lit # 29: Thieves Like Us / They Live By Night

“One of the great forgotten novels of the ’30s,” claimed Ray Chandler. Taking its cue from the social realism of John Steinbeck’s dustbowl sagas and utilising the spare, hard-boiled rhythms of Hemingway and Hammett, Edward Anderson’s Thieves Like Us (1937) is a masterclass in social critique. Anderson took to the road to research his debut novel, Hungry Men, which chronicled the plight of the transients and hobos who travelled the trains during the Depression of the ’30s, and his experience had not noticeably diminished his compassion for a disenfranchised, alienated underclass by the time he came to write Thieves Like Us. Hungry Men won the Doubleday Story prize in 1935 and Anderson used the prize money to travel to Texas, where he interviewed his cousin, then a convicted bank robber serving time in Huntsville State Penitentiary. Taking the contemporary exploits of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker as his starting point, the author recounts the exploits of the young jail-breaker Bowie and his lover Keechie as they twist and turn in a doomed attempt to escape the law, their criminal background and the potentially lethal suspicions of society at large. What made the Depression of the 1930s different to others America had experienced was the mobility of the ravaged underclass: Bowie and Keechie’s battle to establish a life worth living was not a new story to proletarian America, but their cross-country flight and dogged determination to stay one step ahead of the law suggested that it was possible to escape the ties that bind. The Promised Land beckoned, and all a man needed was a tank full of gas and one even break. The latter proved elusive. To hammer home the point, Nicholas Ray’s film They Live By Night (1948) boasts an even more brooding title than that of Anderson’s novel. Even as they flee the system that grinds them down, Bowie (Farley Granger) and Keechie (Cathy O’Donnell) are condemned to a nocturnal, claustrophobic existence in the shadows of civilised society. But They Live By Night differs from the conventional noir tales of greed, lust and cool amorality in the way Ray emphasises the compassion that lay at the heart of Anderson’s novel. Bowie and Keechie may be on the wrong side of the law, no-hopers doomed to failure, but their instincts towards one another, their devotion and mutual tenderness, set them apart from the usual suspects of back-stabbing double crossers. Permeated with a sweetness that resists sentimentality, the film celebrates the naivety and grace of two kids trying to come to terms with a world that is harsher than their worst nightmares prepared them for. Their two-dollar wedding, in a strange, uncaring city, represents a travesty of the hope woven into all marriage vows, and the heart aches.- Michael McGowan

Monday, June 11, 2007

Missing, Presumed Deadly

We’re saps for dangerous dames around these here parts, folks, and sappier than usual for the rather gorgeous Arlene Hunt (right). But enough of our hormonal ragings – what news of our femme fatale du jour? Well, she’s got her latest, Missing Presumed Dead, hitting the shops just about now, and it's a ‘compulsive thriller that deals with loss, betrayal and revenge’ if her blurb-elves are to be believed (never trust a hippy, an Arsenal fan or a blurb-elf, as the old saying goes). Her fourth novel, this is the third in the series of ‘QuicK’ investigations and finds John Quigley and Sarah Kenny (they’ll be the Q ‘n’ K’ in the QuicK office, y’see) investigating the mayhem that ensues when Katie Jones, missing and presumed dead for 26 years, returns to Dublin waving a roscoe and pumping lead. Oh, and did we mention that Arlene has a brand spanking new blog up and running to promote her new tome? No? Damn, we really are slipping. We’ll have to tell you all about that one of these days … Meanwhile, if reviews like “It’s grim, gritty, terrifying” … “A riveting thriller” … “A transfixing whodunnit” are the kind of thing that might interest you, jump down this rabbit hole for plenty more of the same.

Dispatch From A Perch On London’s Eye

Not a bad week for Siobhan Dowd (right), people – her latest, The London Eye Mystery, launched last Thursday and made Children’s Book of the Week in The Sunday Times three days later, to wit: “Dowd’s story grips the reader from the opening chapter … Dowds’s first book, A Swift Pure Cry, was a deservedly acclaimed young adult novel. This second book, which is aimed at a young audience, demonstrates her versatility.” Which may or may not have prompted a sudden change in publishing schedule. Quoth Siobhan:
“David (Fickling) is insisting on publishing my just-finished fourth book ahead of Solace of the Road, so we’ve done a sudden switch in schedule. Number four is called Bog Child and it’s set on the north-south Irish border in 1981 ... and yes, it is eeerieee (I hope). Now it’s off to New York City to research follow-up to London Eye. My publishers are keen to have my young sleuths Ted and Kat back on another case ... and I can’t wait. I have an art heist in mind this time.”
You go, gal. Just don’t forget to come back to us, eh?

Crime Writing: Even Real Writers Do It, Y’Know

Call it reverse snobbery if you will, but there we were last week banging on about how the Listowel Writers’ Week fiction prize had ignored Irish crime fiction bar Benjamin Black’s (aka John Banville’s) Christine Falls. How wrong were we? Erm, very. Since then it’s been pointed out to us (ad nauseum) that, of the other four nominees, Claire Kilroy’s thriller Tenderwire (right) has garnered Patricia Highsmith comparisons, Gerard Donovan’s Julius Winsome might well be the crime novel of the year, and Patrick McCabe’s Winterwood is a first-person(s) account of schizophrenic psychosis. Which means that only the winning novel, Roddy Doyle’s Paula Spencer, wasn’t a crime novel … Hmmm, consider us suitably chastened. All of which is a roundabout way of reminding you that the Dublin Writers’ Festival kicks off tomorrow, with Gerard Donovan and Rose Tremain opening proceedings at The Project, Temple Bar, at 6pm. Will the dreaded phrase ‘crime fiction’ be uttered? Probably not …

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Monday Review: Yet More Baloohaha For Your Buck

Declan Hughes’ The Colour of Blood – discuss. “There’s the tortured, embittered, lost, hard-drinking PI in Ed but for many reasons he may teeter on the edge of the clichĂ©, but he never quite tips over,” says Karen Chisholm at Crime Space. “The book roars along at a rapid pace with revelation and resolution overlapping themselves at every twist.” Meanwhile, Marcel Berlins is impressed at The Times: “Corpses pile up so fast in this tale about a severely dysfunctional Irish family that I began to wonder whether anyone would be alive at the end to pay Loy’s bill, but Hughes writes well and he has created a memorable character.” … The Book Bag compares Siobhan Dowd’s The London Eye Mystery to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: “It’s beautifully written in Ted’s inimitable deadpan style, which is both unintentionally funny and tremendously touching. Although it is suited more to slightly younger readers than Curious Incident … [it] should nevertheless while away a few happy hours for all readers, aged eight to eighty-eight. I loved it,” says Jill Murphy … Over at Obscurorama, the Silver Fox is bigging up Gerard Donovan: “Julius Winsome is a short, sharp novel about love, loss, grief, and man’s cruelty to his fellow man. If this sounds boring, ponderous or pretentious, let me point out that Julius Winsome is also a novel about a man who, when his beloved dog is murdered, picks up a rifle and takes his own revenge. This may just be my favourite read of 2007.” And it’s still only June … “Andrew Nugent, who was formerly a missionary in Africa, brings the inhabitants of Little Africa to life in this highly recommended mystery,” says Karen Spengler about Second Burial over at Book Sense … “Bateman writes with sympathy and humour about how people cope with finding themselves stuck in humdrum lives as they slide into middle age,” says Jake Kerridge at The Telegraph, further noting that, “the co-dedicatee of this novel is ‘my Christian name, gone but not forgotten’” … The Irish American magazine doesn’t seem entirely sure of what it wants to say about Patrick McCabe’s Winterwood, to wit: “If McCabe’s plot seems straight out of a B horror movie, the way he unspools this story is a bit more complicated. The chronology is jumbled, even confusing, creating an impressionistic effect, one which seems to mirror Redmond’s befogged mind. Winterwood is not for everyone, but then again, you could say that about McCabe’s entire body of challenging work.” … No such bush-beating for Paige Lovitt of Readers' Views when it comes to Ruth Dudley Edwards’ latest: “Murdering Americans is a fun book to read … In spite of the humour, the plot is also suspenseful. This is the first book that I have read in this series … I enjoyed it so much, I plan on going back to read the other ones in the series.” Insert your own ‘Lovingitt’ punchline here … Back to The Irish American magazine for Benjamin Black’s Christine Falls: “The prose is lush and poetic, and the pacing is excellent, as the book moves from Ireland to the U.S. (Banville fans will recall that several of his earlier literary novels such as The Book of Evidence had many elements of crime or detective stories.)” Banville? Writing crime stories? Tosh and piffle, sir … Meanwhile, Dispatches From Down Under is less impressed: “I loved other Banville works, and like mysteries, so thought I’d check it out. It was good, but I missed the fabulous literary style of his other works. Don’t know that I'll read another Black novel.” Hmmm, a backhanded compliment, wethinks … “KT McCaffrey’s Bishop’s Pawn [is] a traditional mystery novel … the melodramatic, over-the-top writing actually helps to lend the book authenticity and entertainment value,” says The Irish Times … “The characterisation in this work is well done,” says Reviewing the Evidence of Alex Barclay’s The Caller. “The atmosphere evoked is suitably grisly and the worries of both detectives made convincingly real. The motivation driving the killer is perhaps not quite as believable.” Boo, etc. … Marcus Gipps' Books Wot I Have Read previews Andrew Pepper’s The Revenge of Captain Paine, albeit stingily: “I still enjoyed the book overall – and the last pages, as everything comes together, were hard to put down – I just would have liked the whole experience to have been a bit smoother.” Finally, Ken Bruen had a good weekend – The Irish Times wafted some serious smoke up the nether regions of Cross, thusly: “The strength of Bruen’s work lies in the language and the characterisation. This is noir literature at its best. Bruen is an Irish treasure as a thriller writer, and his international reputation is blossoming also – as it should.” Which is beautiful … but then the Aussie Sunday Times went and printed this: “He brings Galway alive in the same sort of way that James Lee Burke immerses us in the bayous and mean back streets of Louisiana … [Taylor] is one of the most engaging and deeply rendered characters to leap from the pages of a crime novel in recent years … Cross is replete with guilt and redemption, and rich in fatally flawed, realistic characters … [It] moves at a cracking pace, daring you to second-guess why seemingly unrelated events unfold as they do. It is one of the most rewarding reads of the year.” Damn it all, that’s our ‘Ne’er a Cross word spoken’ header gone for a Burton.

We’ll Always Have Paris

Maybe we’re emotionally retarded degenerates, but we’re at a loss to understand why Eoin McNamee’s latest, 12:33: A Parisian Summer, is encountering such resistance in the mainstream press. It’s nothing to do with the quality of the writing, y’see; could it be because McNamee has targeted an establishment sacred cow? Quoth Amanda Brown in a Sunday Trib preamble to a McNamee interview:
“I can’t say I enjoyed reading 12:23: Paris: 31st August 1997, but then I was prejudiced against it before I began. A fictionalised story based on the real life events of that famous car crash in which Diana Spencer lost her life struck me as a bit tasteless, even if it has been 10 years since it happened.”
Meanwhile, over at the Sunday Times, John Dugdale was beating a remarkably similar dead horse:
“12:23 is strong on atmosphere and the seedy, humdrum reality of bottom-feeder spying. It seems indecently early, however, to be stitching its central event into fiction (most recent “faction” novels are set at least 25 years ago); and while reliance on a conspiracy theory for the portrayal of the crash is handy for shaping a thriller plot, it does little for the novel’s credibility.”
Hmmmm, smells like a conspiracy to us. Two questions, folks: One, it was okay for the Princess of Wails to spin the entire world a fiction while she was alive, but no one is allowed write about her now she’s dead, or at least not for 25 years after the event – is that correct? Two, how come Elton John didn’t get this kind of grief?

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 108: Duane Swierczynski

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?
My twenty-fifth.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Kafka, Joyce and Updike. So damned embarrassing – I mean, can you get any more ‘airport’ than that?
Most satisfying writing moment?
Whenever one of my characters does or says something I didn’t see coming. There’s nothing better than that. (Of course, it also suggests that I may need professional help.)
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Anything with Ken Bruen’s name on the spine.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Ken Bruen’s American Skin. It’s like a smart Jerry Bruckheimer movie.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst? The time away from my family. The best? Pretty much everything. I love this job.
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
Clearly, he doesn’t want the ‘Banville’ name to sully his real work.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Fast. Crazy. Polish.

Duane Swierczynski’s Severance Package is published by St Martin’s Minotaur in November

The Embiggened O # 403: Trumpets? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Trumpets!

No indeedy, because it’s official: we’re made. The Irish Times gave us the hup-ya on Saturday, and when The Old Lady bestows her beneficence, it’s ambrosia and nectar all the way to the Pearly Gates. Anyway, seeing as yon Old Lady insists on subscription only, here’s the full latte skinny, as it were:
“Declan Burke’s The Big O carries on the tradition of Irish noir with its Elmore Leonard-like style. Here the dialogue is as slick as an ice run, the plot is nicely intricate, and the character drawing is spot on. There is a large list of folk involved, from Karen, who does stick-ups, through Rossi, who is Joe Pesci to a T if the book is ever filmed, through Ray, the phlegmatic hostage keeper, through Frank, who wants his ex-wife kidnapped, through Detective Doyle, who is on the lookout for a man, and through Anna, who is a large dog. Throw them all into the mix and the result is a high-octane novel that fairly coruscates with tension.”
‘Coruscates’, eh? Now that right there is a seriously classy verb.