“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Alas, Poor Novel. We Knew It, Horatio ...

In common with most crime fiction readers, the Crime Always Pays elves tend on the whole to be readers first, crime fiction devotees second. As far as they’re concerned, a good book is a good book is a good book. They’re not even prejudiced against literary fiction – some of the literary novels they’ve enjoyed so far this year include Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD, Mary Renault’s THE MASK OF APOLLO, Brian Moore’s BLACK ROBE, Sebastian Faulks’ BIRDSONG, Flannery O’Connor’s WISE BLOOD, Primo Levi’s THE TRUCE, and John Banville’s THE BOOK OF EVIDENCE. Of course, Banville’s offering could easily be considered a crime fiction novel rather than a literary one, although there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be both. Quoth Marcel Berlins in Saturday’s London Times, reviewing THE SILVER SWAN:
“John Banville won the Man Booker Prize for THE SEA, but may be remembered just as much for the crime novels he writes as Benjamin Black. I do not imply that he’s dumbing down. On the contrary, he has applied his superb literary skills to a new genre, and discovered – as have his readers – that he’s a wonderful crime writer …”
No quibbles here: Banville is a wonderful writer, and could probably turn his hand to churning out quality pornography if the mood took him. But it’s that “I do not imply that he’s dumbing down” that gets under the skin of the elves’ collective inferiority complex. Why should any genre fiction, or non-genre fiction, require ‘dumbing down’ per se? Yes, there are bad crime writers, just as there are bad porn writers, and bad chick-lit writers, and bad literary writers. But what you generally don’t get in genre fiction, and which is increasingly the case in literary fiction, is a writer disappearing up his or her own fundament. A case in point: Adam Thirlwell’s MISS HERBERT, reviewed last week in the Sunday Times by Tom Deveson, the gist of which runneth thusly:
Thirlwell is a fellow of All Souls, Oxford, as well as the author of a previous novel, POLITICS … the scholarly showmanship is impressive and he flourishes his paradoxes with panache. Here is a novel that “is not really a novel”, one with a theme and variations but “no plot, no fiction, and no finale”. In a jetlagged version of literary history, Diderot and Kundera, Joyce and Hrabal are collaborators. Tolstoy “is a miniaturist”, a descendant of the “economical” Sterne.
Yes, well, huzzah. And there’s plenty more in that vein, until Deveson concludes:
It seems that Thirlwell can’t decide whether he is writing “an inside-out novel”, producing a look-at-me-mum firework display or instructing those less fortunate than himself in how to appear well read.
Which is, as far as we can make out, a polite way of saying that Thirlwell is so far up his own hole he’ll need a miner’s helmet, two maps and a compass to find his way out again. But the real issue is this – that it’s Thirlwell and his fellow fellows, with their novels that aren’t really novels, their book-shaped empty vessels devoid of plot, fiction and finale, who regularly pronounce the novel dead. Now, it’s possible that the doomsayers are commenting exclusively on the literary novel, in which case they’re only slightly wrong. But it’s also possible they’re the writing equivalent of the kid who descends from his ivory tower with a shiny new football, then discovers that the ill-bred oiks in the street are running rings around him, and so declares the game stupid, and takes his ball home, there to puncture it in a sulk. Should we indulge that petulant child as he kicks his flat ball around his ivory tower, or should we encourage him to get back out into the street and compete against the oiks, honing his craft to the point where he can beat them at their own game or finally, honourably, admit he just doesn’t have what it takes to play ball? Answers on the back of a used million-yen note to the usual address, people. Oh – and if anyone come across a review similar to that of MISS HERBERT above, mail it on here, placing ‘Putting The Fun Back Into Fundament’ in the subject line. Here is a novel that “is not really a novel”, one with a theme and variations but “no plot, no fiction, and no finale” ? To paraphrase Oscar Wilde on the death of Little Nell, it’d take a heart of stone not to laugh at that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

How The Key West Was Won

Irish crime fiction’s empire has established a tenuous beachhead on Florida’s coast, from where Crime Always Pays’ Key West correspondent Michael Haskins (right, aka ‘Irelands32’ on Crime Space) gets in touch with some early word on his forthcoming CHASIN’ THE WIND, due for publication next March but already getting the big-ups. Quoth Mark Howell in Solares Hill:
“A genuine winner … Haskins knows that a razor’s width separates life and death at the end of the road. No one guards the gate to Key West. No island law exists that isn’t, quite simply, a target.”
Lovely stuff. What’s that you say? You want a taster from CHASIN’ THE WIND? Something that might put you in mind, say, of a more steely-eyed Carl Hiaasen? Okay, you asked for it …
“The air was cool and millions of stars were still blinking around the moon. In Boston it was snowing and in Los Angeles it was smoggy and the streets weren’t safe at closing time. Crime in Key West only became crime after a person lived here a few years; before that it was mostly laughable. There are no gang-related drive-by shootings, and the cops knew most of the small-time drug dealers. What would pass as pranks in Boston and L.A. made the local crime report in Key West. Then, of course, some animal would find his or her way to Key West and kill for no logical reason, and someone good would die. Most were caught and sent to prison, because the city cops and county sheriffs were professionals and murder wasn’t good for tourism.”
Stay tuned for a full review, folks - just as soon as we catch up with that damnably elusive wind …

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 973: Peter Murphy

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?
Oh boy. A photo-finish between FROM HELL by Alan Moore, THE BLACK DAHLIA by James Ellroy, and Borges’ story ‘Death And The Compass’.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure when it comes to books. Crime novels, sci-fi, music books, comic books, journalism, ‘mainstream’ literature, ‘slipstream’ literature, biographies, tales of the macabre … MAUS is just as valid as MOBY DICK.
Most satisfying writing moment?
That Twilight Zone thing where your peripheral vision goes fuzzy and time buggers off …
The best Irish crime novel is …?
THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. Poe was melancholic, alcoholic and black-humoured, so he qualifies as Irish by default.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I think Mike McCormack’s short story ‘A Is For Axe’ from GETTING IT IN THE HEAD would be a hoot.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst – it’s a profoundly antisocial occupation. Best – see above.
The pitch for your next novel is …?
Black and sticky.
Who are you reading right now?
THE NEW GRANTA BOOK OF AMERICAN SHORT STORY, edited by Richard Ford. They’re all great, but every fourth or fifth story just about makes my heart stop. And I’m re-reading A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND by Flannery O’Connor, ’cos she's the queen.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Blood, sweat and tears.

Peter Murphy’s JOHN THE REVELATOR will be published by Faber & Faber and Harcourt (US) in 2009.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: THE JUDAS HEART by Ingrid Black

Saxon (no first name, naturally) is a former FBI agent now living and drifting round Dublin. She’s written a best-selling book, so working doesn’t seem to be a pressing concern. But a would-be young actress is found murdered, so the police want her expertise. Saxon’s not over-keen to get involved, as she has her own mystery to solve. She’s spotted her former FBI colleague Leon Kaminski in Dublin, and wants to find out why he did a runner the moment he spotted her. THE JUDAS HEART is very strong on the atmosphere of a sweltering hot Irish capital and particularly the night-time streets. It’s a touch slow to get going, though, and Saxon spends rather too lot ruminating, and consequently it feels like the murder of Marsha Reed is relegated to the back burner. The book’s weakness is its main character, who, despite the time we spend with her, never seems quite convincing. Why’s she still addressed as Special Agent when she’s been out of the FBI for aeons, incidentally? And I’m never quite convinced, either, by the elationship between Saxon and Chief Supt Grace Fitzgerald. We should admire a writer who presents a gay relationship in such a matter-of-fact way – who people sleep with in real life (and mysteries) shouldn’t be an issue. But it is – particularly in the macho world of cops, and Black spends time trying to persuade us how backward the Irish police force is. So the fact that there’s one fleeting reference to a bigoted colleague being rapped over the knuckles for making homophobic comments in the canteen doesn’t ring quite true. Ingrid Black is apparently the pen-name for husband and wife partnership Eilis O’Hanlon and Ian McConnel. And yes, their main characters do feel like a straight person’s creation. That’s not to say that straight writers can’t write gay. But Saxon could quite easily be a bloke if the spell-checker changed ‘she’ to ‘he’ all through the book. On the whole, though, Black has written a fluent page-turner which is strong on atmosphere, sound on plotting and somewhat lacking in characterisation.– Sharon Wheeler

This review is republished by the kind permission of Reviewing the Evidence

The Chess Bit: In Which A Dominant Queen Bashes The Bishop

Being the kind of cerebral pygmies who need to use both hands to move their checker pieces, the Crime Always Pays elves don’t generally find themselves rooting around in chess-orientated blogs. But then Ronan Bennett, damn his beautiful eyes, went and wrote the chess-inspired ZUGWANG, and now the corridors of CAP Towers ring to the dulcet tones of elves banging on about something called a Queen Endgame – although they’re also planning a Freddie Mercury tribute band, so who knows what the hell they’re up to? Anyhoo, it’s with a weary heart that we zoom diagonally across the interweb board to Susan Polgar’s Chess Blog, there to shamelessly steal the ZUGZWANG big-ups she has so patiently collected and – ahem – pawn them off as our own, to wit:
“A breathtaking, cliffhanging, breakneck race through the worlds of Russian chess, Bolshevik terrorism, and international espionage. Surely the most thrilling chess thriller ever written.” – Katherine Neville, author of THE EIGHT
“A mesmerizing tale of shifting political allegiances and double dealing… Bennett is now the closest we have to Graham Greene; he looks squarely at the human condition, and attains a rare gravitas.” - The Observer (London)
“Readers who love ANNA KARENINA as much as they enjoy a gripping mystery will find a little slice of heaven here.” - Booklist
“A heady historical thriller … the plot packs more than enough surprises to keep any suspense junkie sated.” - Publishers Weekly
“A taut, intricate thriller … a hugely enjoyable, brilliant high-wire act.” – Kirkus Reviews
“A classy, literate thriller” – The Times (London)
Chess – it’s like boxing without boxing gloves, no?

The Best Things In Life Are Free … Books

The elves are up to their oxters in a vat of their patented Elf-Wonking Juice to celebrate the second paperback release of The Artist Formerly Known As Colin Bateman’s I PREDICT A RIOT, and as a result are utterly incapable of penning anything remotely compos mentis-ish about Bateman’s latest hilarious Belfast-based caper. And so it’s with a heavy heart that we resort to the cheap publicity gimmick of offering, in conjunction with the lovely people at Hodder Headline Ireland, a competition giving away three copies of said tome at a total cost to you, the reader, of zip, zilch, nada and bugger-all. The all-important question:
Is The Artist Formerly Known As Colin Bateman officially referred to these days as:
(a) Bateman;
(b) Yon Double-Hard Bastard From Norn Iron;
(c) Priscilla?
Answers to dbrodb(at)gmail.com, putting ‘I love Master Bateman’ in the subject line, before noon on Monday, 19th November. Et bon chance, mes amis …

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cuddly Dudley Strikes Again

There really is no one else around like Ruth Dudley Edwards (right), author of MURDERING AMERICANS and full-time jagged bayonet in the side of political correctness. Reviewing the latest offering from Benjamin Black (aka John Banville) in last weekend’s Irish Times, La Dud used the platform to take sideswipes at Booker Prize-winner Anne Enright, the literary establishment in general, and - yep, you guessed it - one John Banville. The gist runneth thusly:
“It takes a lot these days to persuade me to read any fiction other than upbeat crime novels, since I find contemporary so-called literary fiction almost invariably disappointing or unpleasant. Foolishly, I allowed myself to be persuaded into reviewing Anne Enright’s THE GATHERING for the Literary Review which made me feel sick (I am squeamish) and which I dismissed as horrid just a few days before she won the Man Booker Prize. Although I once read a John Banville novel (THE UNTOUCHABLE – a roman รก clef about the traitor Anthony Blunt) and liked it, I had no inclination to read his Man Booker prize-winner, THE SEA, which sounded lethally depressing, but I let my arm be twisted into reviewing his second crime novel in his Benjamin Black persona – and, being thorough, I first read its predecessor, CHRISTINE FALLS. These should have plunged me into terminal gloom, being about Quirke, an alcoholic pathologist in 1950s Dublin contemplating at world of lies and silence, pregnant girls exiled to laundries, abducted babies, ruthless priests, blackmail, drug addiction, sexual predators and plenty more of the same …”
Erm, yes. Let’s just move swiftly on to the good stuff, shall we?
“I’ve wondered why I like these books so much. It is partly because of Black’s skilful evocation of my city when I was a child: he doesn’t go in for set pieces about place, more for telling detail … It is partly too that despite the subject matter, there is no gratuitous nastiness or disgusting imagery. More important is that Black has produced two highly intelligent, disconcerting, unpredictable and beautifully written page-turners which tell us a great deal about our past and address serious moral issues. In a sane literary world, THE SILVER SWAN would be considered for another Booker prize, but, in fact, Black is unlikely even to be nominated. The literary establishment despises what it calls the genre novel. The notion that a novel should be driven by a compelling narrative is just so yesterday.”
Right, that’s it – consider Crime Always Pays’ stalking of Nicole Kidman officially oh-ver. From now on, it’s La Dud or bust for us …

If You’ve Got The Time, We’ve Got The Paradox

It’s a little-known (or cared about) fact that the Crime Always Pays elves are, in fact, trans-dimensional escapees from the ever-evolving lunatic asylum that is the world of Artemis Fowl (right). As you might expect, they tend to keep an eye on all things Eoin Colfer-shaped, and the latest news to blippity-blip across their radar is that Artemis 6 (Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox) is to be released next July 15, that it will feature a villain called Dr. Kronski, and that the twins’ names have been confirmed as Myles and Beckett – it being no small coincidence, of course, that Colfer’s brand of absurdist humour has much in common with the work of Myles na gCopaleen (aka Flann O’Brien) and Samuel Beckett. Quoth Mr Colfer-shaped thusly:
“I’m working on Artemis 6, which involves a lot of time travel, which you have to be clever and careful about, as to not contradict yourself. I did a bit of time-travel in the last book, well, it wasn’t really time travel, more dimensional travel, and you have to be really careful with that.”
You certainly do. It’s like juggling hot trout, that blummin’ time / dimensional travel malarkey …

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ay Caramba! ’Tis John Bartville!

It may be a little behind in its Benny Blanco from the Bronx (aka Benjamin Black) coverage, but given that the elves are huge (as in, tiny-but-keen) fans of The Simpsons, we couldn’t resist the following post from The Writer’s Times :
Interesting piece in today’s Metro about John Banville’s new novel. THE SILVER SWAN is a break from his usual literary output. It’s a thriller, based on something that happened in his local Dublin neighbourhood. Writing as Benjamin Black, Banville has set the novel in the 1950s, exposing the dark side of Ireland, where church and state ruled with a grimness rivalling regimes behind the Iron Curtain … Adopting a different style seems to have helped Banville get back on track with the style which won him the Booker in 2005 for THE SEA.
“... I wrote the Black books, [says Banville] which are all about character and plot, to give myself a bit of a kick.”
It seems to have worked – he’s 6,000 words into a new Banville novel, although he says that, for a writer, all that matters is writing the perfect line: “Each time I sit down to write, I think of Bart Simpson inscribing on the blackboard, ‘I must write a better sentence.’ And I’d sacrifice anything to get a sentence right.”
Insert your own ‘Homeric struggle’ punchline at your leisure, folks …

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 1,079: Jochem Van Der Steen

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 guess that would be GONE, BABY, GONE by Dennis Lehane, a novel that rocked my world. Either that or Harry Potter because I wouldn’t mind being filthy rich.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Guys writing comic books!
Most satisfying writing moment?
Probably when I got my first short story published on Thrilling Detective, and when I finished my first novel, THE WHITE KNIGHT SYNDROME.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
For me that honour goes to the first John Connolly novel, EVERY DEAD THING. Like GONE, BABY, GONE, it fuelled my desire to keep writing myself. It managed to show how you can make a book action-packed, respect the genre and still give it a ‘new’ feel.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
See above.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Waiting for your stuff to get published.
The pitch for your next novel is …?
Security consultant and son of a mobster Noah Milano returns when a Hollywood superstar goes missing. Stopping at nothing to track her down, from the glamorous Hollywood mansions and studios to the border of Mexico, he gets cut up, shot down and betrayed … but never discouraged.
Who are you reading right now?
I’m just finishing Wayne Dundee’s THE DAY AFTER YESTERDAY.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Rocking, fast, easy-to-read.

Jochem Van Der Steen’s THE WHITE KNIGHT SYNDROME is published by iUniverse. He blogs at Sons of Spade.

The Embiggened O # 1,012: The White Trash Verdict Is In!

How do we love thee, Patrick Shawn Bagley (right)? Let us count the ways … Well, for starters there’s the fact that he runs an interweb yokeybus called Hillbillies and Hitmen. And is a self-confessed ‘Fat bastard and white-trash raconteur’. But mainly we’re loving the hup-ya he gave our humble offering, THE BIG O, on the aforementioned H&H. To wit:
“Belated thanks to the family Jordan for sending me a free copy of Declan Burke’s second novel, THE BIG O, a few weeks ago. It’s one hell of a read, with a plot that never slows down long enough for the reader to take a breath. Had Dutch Leonard been born in Sligo, he might have written something like this. I have a new writer to add to my list of favourites.”
A thumbs-up from the white-trash hillbilly demographic? Criminy, we’d better retire now. Like, how could it possibly get any better?

Lo! ’Tis Technicolour Talkies Of Hibernia!

Suggesting that Technicolour Talkies of Hibernia is a ‘sister site’ to Crime Always Pays is to stretch the concept to breaking point, especially as your TToH host, Gavin Burke (right, in full-on ‘Heeeeeere’s Johnny!’ homage), is in fact the brother of CAP's Grand Vizier, Declan Burke. He's also a movie reviewer and screenwriter, both of which are high on his list of priorities, right there behind being 'genial but bearded bon viveur about town'. Anyhoo, less of the flummery: what’s it about? Well, it’s pitched as a one-stop info resource for all things Irish movies, with news, reviews and interviews making up the bulk of the posts. Up right now is an interview with director Anthony Byrne, whose HOW ABOUT YOU?, based on a short story by Maeve Binchy, opens this Friday, November 16 – although the CAP elves are far more interested in Byrne’s next project, SINGLE-HANDED, to wit:
“I just finished a two-part TV drama for RTE/Touchpaper TV called SINGLE-HANDED which we filmed in Connemara and it goes out on New Years Day. It’s a straight up rural cop drama and I think we’ve made a really great piece of TV drama. I’m really looking forward to getting it out. The script was great, the cast were fantastic. Owen McDonnell and Charlene McKenna are amazing young actors and it’s a big, cinematic drama that fits on your TV. I’m also working on another film with Noel Pearson called THE RUNNER that we hope to do later next year in South Africa and New York.”
A straight-up rural cop drama set in Connemara? Truly our cup runneth over …

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Monday Review

Benny Blanco from the Bronx, aka Benjamin Black, aka John Banville, is still getting hup-yas for CHRISTINE FALLS even as THE SILVER SWAN hits the shelves. Quoth Nick Rennison in the Sunday Times: “Readers who found [THE SEA] suffocatingly pretentious will be pleased to learn that his new venture, set in a claustrophobic 1950s Dublin awash with rank secrets, is a breath of fresh air by comparison … What unfolds is a potently involving and deftly evolving intrigue … A dark pleasure.” Meanwhile, reviewing THE SILVER SWAN for the Irish Times, Ruth Dudley Edwards can hardly contain herself: “Black has produced two highly intelligent, disconcerting, unpredictable and beautifully written page-turners which tell us a great deal about our past and address serious moral issues. In a sane literary world THE SILVER SWAN would be considered for another Booker prize …” Cripes! Speaking of prizes, Eoin Colfer has just been long-listed for the Carnegie Prize … “I enjoyed reading ARTEMIS FOWL AND THE LOST COLONY. This is my favourite book of the series. Eoin Colfer, the author, constantly surprises the reader more than any of his other books that I’ve read,” reckons Squid at BookWorld … Over at Reviewing the Evidence, Sharon Wheeler kinda likes Ingrid Black’s latest, THE JUDAS HEART: “On the whole … Black has written a fluent page-turner which is strong on atmosphere, sound on plotting and somewhat lacking in characterisation.” Anna North, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, is much more impressed by Ronan Bennett’s latest, to wit: “The novel becomes a noirish page-turner, complete with shifting allegiances and executions in dark alleyways … ZUGZWANG does not merely offer pleasures both high and low – it erases the distinction. The novel is exciting not despite but because of the moral seriousness of its situations. Bennett’s premise may not be unique, but his talent is, and writers of slicker thrillers would do well to take his work as a lesson in the titillation of the mind.” Sweet. Is it time yet for the inevitable John Connolly big-up? Yes it is, starting with our ol’ buddy Bob the Wordless: “Awesome book. Connolly’s Charlie Parker novels are superb noir. If you like a little bit of horror with your noir, read any of his books … Dark, suspenseful, disturbing, lyrical, emotional. That’s all you need to know about his latest Charlie Parker book, THE UNQUIET. Get it. Highly, highly recommended.” Thank you, sir. Duran Duran fan Write Out, over at I’ll Cross That Bridge When I Find It, concurs: “This was a great, great read. Connolly is a lyrical writer who knows how to pace his story for maximum effect. I highly recommend this author’s stuff, and not just his Parker stories.” Huzzah! Onwards to Andrew Nugent’s latest, courtesy of Jill Hinckley at Murder By The Book: “SECOND BURIAL is a … serious and affecting work, exploring the murder of a member of London's Nigerian community with sensitivity and power. The characters are unforgettable, the insight into a little-known culture astonishing, and the plot development intense and sometimes terrifying or heart-breaking.” They’re still coming in for Paul Charles’ new series, to wit: “It is all presented in a style that’s restrained and slightly old-fashioned. And humane too. Altogether THE DUST OF DEATH is a relief from the in-your-face descriptions of post-mortems and ingenious sadism which is standard fare in plenty of current US and UK crime fiction. The book also conveys a great sense of place. Not quite a cosy but definitely not gritty (despite that crucifixion), THE DUST OF DEATH may not be to everyone’s taste but I suspect that Starrett and co may pick up quite a following after this quirky, individual opening,” says Philip Gooden at Shots Mag … Pithy Review of the Week goes to Henderson at BookCrossing, casting his eye over AMMUNITION: “Third book by [Ken] Bruen I have read, this is the second one that I read in one day (nine stars).” Finally, Tana French’s IN THE WOODS is still jazzing ’em. “A mystery with complex, interesting characters and wonderfully written prose … The characters and their relationships are intricate and plot is well written – a good mystery!” reckons Judi at the Manhattan Public Library, while Maxine Clarke at Euro Crime weighs in with, “Although long, IN THE WOODS is a cracking read. I have often read the word “unputdownable” to describe a book, but in this case it is true … the villain is easy for the seasoned reader to identify, but even so this does not matter, as the way in which the case is solved is chillingly suspenseful, and the writing style superb.” Thank you kindly, ma’am …

Firing On All Cinders

It just gets pleasanter and pleasanter for Derek Landy. First up is the news that the sequel to SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT will be SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT: PLAYING WITH FIRE, which is slated for release on April 7 next year. Quoth the blurb elves:
Just when you think you’ve saved the world!
“You will kill her?” the Torment asked. Skulduggery sagged. “Yes.” He hesitated, then took his gun from his jacket. “I’m sorry, Valkyrie,” he said softly. “Don’t talk to me,” Valkyrie said. “Just do what you have to do.” Valkyrie parted her tunic, and Skulduggery pointed the gun at the vest beneath. “Please forgive me,” Skulduggery said, then aimed the gun at the girl and pulled the trigger …
With Serpine dead, the world is safe once more. At least, that’s what Valkyrie and Skulduggery think, until the notorious Baron Vengeous makes a bloody escape from prison, and dead bodies and vampires start showing up all over Ireland. With Baron Vengeous after the deadly armour of Lord Vile, and pretty much everyone out to kill Valkyrie, the daring detective duo face their biggest challenge yet. But what if the greatest threat to Valkyrie is just a little closer to home!?
Yep, we’re loving the sound of yon Baron Vengeous. Meanwhile, HarperCollins have introduced their first 15 titles available to download on your mobile phone, and SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT is in the vanguard of the radical new technology. Reading novels on a cell phone? It’s big in Japan, of course, but it’ll never catch on over here. Like, y’know, that whole karaoke malarkey … Finally, the news that Landy has been long-listed for the 2008 Carnegie Prize comes courtesy of Bookwitch (a list which also includes Eoin Colfer for THE LEGEND OF THE WORST BOY IN THE WORLD and the late, lamented Siobhan Dowd for THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY). Crumbs – now that’s what we call a damn good week …

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mailer Demons Alert

Bedevilled with demons right to the end, America’s tough-talking laureate, Prince of Letters and author of one of the greatest crime fiction titles (if not novels) of all time with TOUGH GUYS DON’T DANCE, Norman Mailer (right) died on Saturday, November 10. Quoth the New York Times:
[Norman] Mailer died of acute renal failure at Mount Sinai Hospital, said J. Michael Lennon, who is also the author’s official biographer. From his classic debut novel to such masterworks of literary journalism as THE ARMIES OF THE NIGHT, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner always got credit for insight, passion and originality. Some of his works were highly praised, some panned, but none was pronounced the Great American Novel that seemed to be his life quest from the time he soared to the top as a brash 25-year-old enfant terrible. Mailer built and nurtured an image over the years as pugnacious, streetwise and high-living. He drank, fought, smoked pot, married six times and stabbed his second wife, almost fatally, during a drunken party …
Picture the scene, people. We’re somewhere Down Below, it’s warm enough to go bare-chested, and it’s Mailer in the Blue corner, Hemingway in the Red. Ding-ding, seconds out – who’s your money on?