“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, February 2, 2008

“You Charm Us To Sorrow.” Irish Crime Fiction: A CrimeSpree Appraisal

Last week we wrote a feature article for the Evening Herald to a pretty tight deadline, which was why Reed Farrel Coleman’s reply to our query, in the wake of the Edgar nominations, about why Irish writers are becoming so popular in the US of A arrived a little late. Ditto the answer from Ruth and Jon Jordan of the indispensable CrimeSpree Magazine (right, clutching the prestigious Anthony Award for ‘Cutest Couple in Crime Fiction’), both of whom have been cheerleading for Irish crime writing since God was a boy. Herewith follows their rather generous two cents on why Irish writing is becoming so popular:
“The economic and political status of Ireland today is much in line with that of the time in which American crime classics were written. A poor-to-affluent generation living in a post-violent but pre-pacific time, remembering the religious ironies and icons with equal resonance and enwrapping them in a story like a taco bell quesadilla. The Irish story is updated with generations more of ennui and religious acceptance behind it, the precarious situation that is refracted by words of today flirted with, exposed and uniquely discovered by a group of writers who embrace the crime novel as the way to tell their story for all the world.
  “The talent for words is remarkable and embraced by a United States at once ahead and behind a continent we’ve pretended to understand for three generations. Our story, told with more history and depth. Yet Ireland is unique, as are the people writing of it in crime form. Different voices tell the story and make it stronger, more complete. You charm us to sorrow and make us examine where we are today.
  “The background of many of today’s Irish crime fiction writers includes not only a reading of ‘literary fiction’ but also almost all have found the literary brilliance within American crime fiction, be it recent greats like Lehane, Pelecanos, Connelly, Lippman, Rozan, Paretsky and James Lee Burke (to name a few), or the classics (Chandler, Hammett, Cain). They elevate their novels’ structure from the debut and almost always add a fresh voice to the genre. They don’t want to emulate as much as pay tribute to this often overlooked genre of fiction. Pay it forward and make it better, to use an American phrase. They see the possibilities of one flawed man/woman trying to solve a unique and usually violent problem. The writing jumps off the page and connects with the American reader because Irish authors use the entire environment of the crime and make it resonate.
  “The first author I fell in love with from Ireland is John Connolly, an Irishman who set his fiction in a relatively remote American locale. John has said he loved the work of James Lee Burke and many others. He grabbed a location he knew and made it his own. Last year’s work is remarkable in any time: THE UNQUIET is a true literary novel and I cannot think of many recent reads who express the joy of reading and the possibility it has to soothe, but THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS is a must-read for anyone who has ever loved a book and lost a loved one.
  “From Connolly I went to L. Welch, who strips bare any pretences in her prose to expose the baldness of story, and Declan Burke, whose approach to EIGHTBALL BOOGIE was as refreshing as THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE in its time. Ken Bruen’s arrival on our shores made everyone take notice. From THE GUARDS forward, Ken has infused admiration and anticipation for a writing style so unique it cannot be compared to anyone else writing today. Full of bon mots and cultural references that put you into the being of his characters, only someone so sharp of pen could get away with it.
  “America came full circle with the words of one Declan Hughes, whose third novel [THE PRICE OF BLOOD] is about to launch in the States. Instead of taking an Irish sensibility and applying it to the American detective, he brought an Irishman home who has been an American P.I.
  “The possibilities are just beginning and yet we’ve already come full circle.”

Friday, February 1, 2008

Funky Friday’s Freaky-Deak

Being the weekly cornucopic round-up of stuff ‘n’ nonsense from the interweb we were too busy / lazy / underwhelmed to write up as fully fledged posts, to wit: Ken Bruen (resplendent in oils, right, courtesy of KT McCaffrey), gets hauled in for questioning by the Podcast Inspector over at the Podcast Pickle, answering, among other queries, ‘the one question he hasn’t been asked that he really wants to answer – namely, what he really thinks of the Irish police’ … Meanwhile, the Grand Vizier of Crime Always Pays, aka Declan Burke, turns up here on Pulp Pusher waffling on about the importance of characters’ names … Over at The Guardian, Ronan Bennett allows mere mortals to peer into his rather resplendent cave in their ongoing ‘Writers’ Rooms’ series … ress – Stop the Press – Stop the Press: Joan Brady update: the author gives her side of the infamous ‘fumes wot wrecked my life and made me write crime fiction’ story in a rather poignant piece with The Guardian … Mark Sarvas at The Elegant Variation alerts us to some Benny Blanco vids, including one we illegally uploaded to YouTube ourselves, albeit without giving us the credit. Boo … Finally, a rare treat for fans of hysterically histrionic pop-opera at its finest. Lifted from the soundtrack of 1984’s STREETS OF FIRE, the vid features Diane Lane in a backless velvet red dress coming over all Bonnie Tyler to the god-like genius Jim Steinman’s classic, Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young. A perfect storm, we call it … although it might help if you appreciate that your correspondent was an entirely impressionable 14-year-old the first time he clapped eyes on this six minutes of pure joy. Altogether now: “And if I can’t get an angel / I can still get a boy / And a boy’ll be the next best thing / The next best thing to an angel / A boy’ll be the next best thing …” Sigh. Roll it there, Collette …
The Big Question: Is it just us, or does Diane Lane remind anyone else of an ever-so-slightly younger Donna Moore?

The Embiggened O # 2,012: Achtung, Baby!

Who says Germans have no sense of humour? Bernd Kochanowski over at International Crime was kind enough to review our humble offering THE BIG O, introducing us in the process to the phrase ‘trip to Jerusalem’, for which we will be eternally grateful. With apologies to Bernd for the quality of the writing, which is the result of our using a translation device, the piece runneth thusly:
With the “trip to Jerusalem” THE BIG O would have no chance: The book falls between all chairs. It is no humour crime film, but rather subliminal funnily, it does not show off with local colour, still plays recognizably in Ireland, it is no real thriller, nevertheless, uses this form and it is nobody noir, however, is to the direction … If one did not know it already on account of regular reading of the Blogs Crime Always Pays whose guardian Declan Burke is, at the latest to THE BIG O would be clear that here an eminently widely-read author was at work who has done many thoughts to himself about the manifestations of the genre.
  Exceptionally it is fairly difficult to summarize the book. Too easily it could happen that affectionately from the author laid out feints are betrayed. Besides, the idea underlying to the book is easy. Mostly single scenes are told in short chapter from the point of varying persons. Now and then a scene of a person becomes next hand over, so that the reader receives two (often different) representations. If these are at the beginning single action threads which the author lays out, these are intertwined in the course of the history with each other and intertwined again to a respect network hardly to be overlooked has originated. Relentlessly Burke speeds up the history. Always new dependence between the trading appears and constantly it differently comes than one expects.
  All together these are 6 heads and some Nebenpersonen which appear before a scenery which could be everywhere - the book walk formally to be performed as a stage play. Typically Irish is here in particular the language which speak the people and thus it also takes no miracle that the dialogs carry an essential part of the action.
  THE BIG O is great fun: The humour comes from the back, without laughters from the canned food announce that a joke comes. The persons are drawn hard, however, always consistent. The special situation Ireland as “Celtic tiger” is a part of the background and the book is exciting always. Even if the reader from a certain point can anticipate where the whole will lead, one asks himself with all involvements how the author wants to bring this with dignity to an end.
  The book is convincing (at the stately end and) also, because it is independent absolutely. Here somebody risks what … and wins. Published by the author with Hag’s Head Pressing appeared book will come out in the lifting in the USA at one of the big publishing companies. Past then the times where the author can report about the fact that the book is offered as a reward with Amazon for 195.36 US $.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hold The Back Page: It’s The Spinetingler Awards!

Yep, the results are in for the inaugural Spinetingler Awards, and the good news is that Ray Banks hasn’t won anything. Hurrah! The even better news is that the Crime Always Pays Grand Vizier, Declan Burke, hasn’t won anything either. Hoo-boy! The best news of all, however, is that handsome Scottish devil Allan Guthrie (right) copped the ‘Best Novel: New Voice’ gong for HARD MAN, while the radiant Laura Lippman got some degree of consolation for her lack of Edgar nomination by scooping the ‘Best Novel: Legend’ category with WHAT THE DEAD KNOW. For the full rundown of results, jump over to At Central Booking … (Hat-tip to The Rap Sheet).

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 2,064: Tom Cain

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?
For the royalties, THE DA VINCI CODE! Other than that, I would love to have written CASINO ROYALE (and the rest). And I would kill for even a fraction of Elmore Leonard’s stylistic chops. The man is a genius of prose.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Trashy erotic fiction ... ’nuff said!
Most satisfying writing moment?
The last few chapters of THE ACCIDENT MAN. I threw away everything I had planned and just let the book write itself. It was incredibly exciting, because I really had no idea what was going to happen next, but I absolutely felt like it was rocking. At the end, I looked back at 15,000 words of incredibly intense psychological trauma, physical violence, sexual passion and even quiet melancholy, and thought, ‘Where the hell did THAT come from?’
The best Irish crime novel is …?
ULYSSES, particularly the car-chase sequence.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
DARKHOUSE, though none of the actresses in it could possibly be as hot as its author Alex Barclay!
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Apart from the insecurity, the grief when the advance runs out and you still haven’t finished, and the fact that you don’t get stadiums filled with screaming, worshipping fans the way rock stars do ... The worst thing is the sheer mental grief of fighting your way through a book, when it seems determined to beat you into a feeble, bleeding pulp. The best thing is working from home, not having to wash, shave or dress in proper clothes, and those rare, wonderful times (see above) when it all suddenly just clicks. That, and pressing ‘send’ on the finished manuscript.
The pitch for your next novel is …?
Insanely complicated! But it’s based on three things that actually happened in late ’97, early ‘98 – the period immediately after the end of THE ACCIDENT MAN. To wit … A Russian general, Alexander Lebed, announced that his country had lost 100 suitcase nukes. Osama bin-Laden issued the fatwa declaring war on Zionists and Crusaders. The FBI began an investigation into Christian fundamentalist groups who might try to bring about the End of Days. So it’s that, plus my man Samuel Carver, his fragile mental state, and his ongoing girl-trouble ...
Who are you reading right now?
Re-reading Flashman – again – in memory of the recently deceased George MacDonald Fraser.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
‘Bloody ... hard ... Work.’ For me, that is. ‘Easy ... to ... Read.’ For everyone else. I hope.

Tom Cain’s THE ACCIDENT MAN is available now.

Book ’Er, Danno

Femme fatale Sandra Ruttan’s (right) spanking new website, At Central Booking – ‘For Those Committed to a Life of Crime’ – goes live sometime around now, with the results of the inaugural Spinetingler Awards going up on the board at some point today, if we’re not very much mistaken, which we very frequently are. A sprawling, epic offering, At Central Booking features a host of devilishly clever ways of winkling information out of writers, including Lie Detector, Video Surveillance, Snitch, Death Row, Repeat Offenders and Parole Board. Among the contributors are Sandra herself, Russel D. McLean, John McFetridge and the Grand Vizier of Crime Always Pays, Declan Burke, but don’t let that put you off because the site is already featuring pieces about / from writers such as Simon Kernick (hurrah!), Tess Gerritsen (woo-whoo!!), Anne Frasier (hot diggety-damn!!!) and Ray Banks (erm, boo). Do yourself a favour and scoot yourself on over to At Central Booking (or ACB, as we in the trade like to call it), and leave, y’know, disparaging comments about Ray Banks, Canadians and that veritable prince of no-mark wastreling, Declan Burke. Trust us, you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself once you get it off your chest …

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Build His Gallows High

The good people at Macmillan New Writing were kind enough to send us on an early copy of Brian McGilloway’s GALLOWS LANE, and needless to say the elves were all (ahem) stretching their necks for a sneaky peek. Forty pages in and the jury is still out – they’re all down at Ad Lib Bookshop in Strabane, apparently, queuing up for a signed copy. Quoth the blurb elves:
Taking its title from the name of the road down which condemned Donegal criminals were once led, GALLOWS LANE follows Inspector Benedict Devlin as he investigates a series of gruesome murders in and around the Irish borderlands. When a young woman is found beaten to death on a building site, in what appears to be a sexually-motivated killing, Devlin’s enquiries soon point to a local body-builder and steroid addict. But days later, born-again ex-con James Kerr is found nailed to a tree – crucified – having been released from prison and returned to his hometown to spread the word of God. Increasingly torn between his young family and his job, Devlin is determined to apprehend those responsible for the murders before they strike again, even as the carnage begins to jeopardise those he cares about most. GALLOWS LANE is the heart-stopping follow-up to Brian McGilloway’s acclaimed debut BORDERLANDS.
Insert your own “hang ’em and flog ’em” punchline here at your leisure, people …

On WHAT WAS LOST, And Losers

Sinead over at the very fine Sigla Blog has been raving about Catherine O’Flynn’s Costa Award-winning WHAT WAS LOST for some time now, but even though O’Flynn is second-generation Irish we didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon in case the novel was a literary effort (given it won a literary prize) that simply utilised crime tropes, an issue that has unduly exercised the elves of CAP Towers over the last few weeks. However, with Mark Lawson in The Guardian claiming WHAT WAS LOST as a mystery story, and Karen Meek reviewing it at Euro Crime, it’s starting to look like WHAT WAS LOST is due some very belated and entirely useless congratulations from the CAP crew. Three cheers, two stools and a resounding huzzah, then … Incidentally, O’Flynn was one of four women to scoop a prize at the Costa Book Awards, and the utter absence of disgruntled men complaining about the (non-)issue stands in stark contrast to the outcry about the lack of women nominated for the Edgar’s ‘Best Novel’ category, if this Sarah Weinman-sponsored thread is anything to go by. Are men better losers than women? Or just losers, period? Answers on the back of a used €20 note to the usual address, please …

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 2,073: Liam Durcan

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?
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t know if I read a particular genre or author in a guilty way—I suppose the most guilty pleasure in my reading is the aimless promiscuity of my choices—I train-commute to work and read anything (as long as it’s portable—is that a genre?). This last week I’ve read magazines (Wired, American Scientist, The Walrus), articles downloaded from the internet, a and collection of poetry ( SITCOM by David McGimpsey).
Most satisfying writing moment?
A story I wrote won a writing contest (this in itself wasn’t the most satisfying thing). It was a contest with blind-judging and I wrote the story in the voice of a pregnant woman. They presented the award at a local literary festival and with the congratulatory handshake, the judge leaned in and said ‘I didn’t think you were a man.’ This was the most satisfying (and contextually-dependent) compliment I have ever received.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
John Banville’s THE BOOK OF EVIDENCE.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Recently I came across Gene Kerrigan’s THE MIDNIGHT CHOIR—it caught my eye for the Leonard Cohen reference in the title—and enjoyed it very much. I thought it would make a great film.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst thing: You’ve only got your skill with words to convince the reader to turn the page. Best thing: See above.
The pitch for your next novel is …?
A man recovering from a head injury (the nature of which renders him unable to understand the extent of his perceptual deficits) finds his world utterly changed and the narrative follows him as he tries to negotiate his way towards an explanation for what is happening to him. As you can see, I just can’t stay away from romantic comedy …
Who are you reading right now?
CITIZEN VINCE by Jess Walter.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Style, plot, relevance.

Liam Durcan’s GARCIA’S HEART is available now.

He Sells Sanctuary

The one-man publishing industry that is Ken Bruen has another offering for your delectation – SANCTUARY, the latest in the Jack Taylor PI series, is due from Transworld on June 2. Quoth the blurb elves:
Two guards, one nun, one judge. When a letter containing a list of victims arrives in the post, PI Jack Taylor is sickened, but tells himself the list has nothing to do with him. He has enough to do just staying sane. His close friend Ridge is recovering from surgery, and alcohol’s siren song is calling to him ever more insistently. A guard and then a judge die in mysterious circumstances. But it is not until a child is added to the list that Taylor determines to find the identity of the killer, and stop them at any cost. What he doesn’t know is that his relationship with the killer is far closer than he thinks. And that it’s about to become deeply personal. Spiked with dark humour, seasoned with acute insights about the perils of urbanization, and fuelled by rage at man's inhumanity to man, this is crime-writing at its darkest and most original.
Don’t know about you, but we’re backing SANCTUARY each-way for Crimespree Magazine’s annual ‘Best Novel By Ken Bruen Award’ …

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “The whole setup of this novel reminded me immediately of Raymond Chandler’s first novel … Hughes seems bent on doing the same thing for Dublin that Ross MacDonald did for the Los Angeles area. Hughes twists and turns his characters and events so much that even a close reader has to stay on his toes in order to keep that. And the writing is packed with detail, emotion, and history. This is a gifted storyteller at work,” says Mel Odom at Blog Critics of THE COLOUR OF BLOOD. Meanwhile, is this the first review of THE PRICE OF BLOOD? “In his third appearance (see THE COLOR OF BLOOD and THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD) Loy does what he does best: gets tattered and threatened but keeps on ticking. The story line is fast-paced … and though filled with neat twists never slows down until the final altercation … Private investigative fans will enjoy Declan Hughes’ strong Irish mystery,” says Harriet Klausner at Genre Go-Round Reviews … Derek Landy’s SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT gets the hup-ya from Jerry Jarrell at Lithography 101: “Fans of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series or anyone who likes a dash of violence and danger served up with magical humour will enjoy this book.” Lovely … “A well thought-out plot with interesting twists, engaging characters, and a likeable protagonist have been the hallmarks of Paul Charles’ previous novels. The author has received stellar reviews from the British press for good reason,” says Bob Walch at I Love A Mystery of THE DUST OF DEATH … Crimefic at It’s A Crime! likes Andrew Nugent’s SECOND BURIAL: “He creates strong believable characters and a plot to keep you guessing. The circumstances of Shad’s death are so heart-breaking you are compelled to read on … This novel offers something different in the genre and excellently so.” Harriet Klausner was a busy bee this week. Here she reviews Ken Bruen’s AMERICAN SKIN in the Mystery Gazette: “Violence may be as American as cherry pie, but Mr. Bruen takes murder and mayhem to caricature levels in this fun tale.” Amy at The It Blog likes Benny Blanco’s CHRISTINE FALLS: “This was a pretty good mystery from Irish writer John Banville … I almost feel like this could be considered just general fiction.” Meanwhile, Emer O’Kelly in the Sunday Independent gives THE SILVER SWAN the big-up: “The book is in some ways a sordid read in its creeping credibility; there is an angry stench of corruption from its pages because Benjamin Black is as much a master describing the life of the criminal gutter as John Banville is of the metaphysical exploration of human relationships.” Here’s posh – Brian McGilloway’s BORDERLANDS was reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement. “This is a well-written crime novel ... If this indeed, as seems the case, the first in a series, then the ending leaves plenty of scope for development and much to look forward to in future books,” says Karen Latimer … Writing in The Times, Alyson Rudd liked Tana French’s IN THE WOODS: “Even frustrated readers praised French’s style and dialogue. She writes with spark, wit and pace … it pulls you in with a mixture of ghostly reminiscence and the gory present.” The late, lamented Siobhan Dowd’s latest, BOG CHILD, got a very positive review in the Sunday Independent: “This important, challenging and powerful book will grip any mature teenage or adult reader,” says Sarah Webb. Finally, the Florida wing of Irish crime fiction, Michael Haskins, has been wallowing in some pretty strong big-ups for his debut CHASIN’ THE WIND this week, to wit: “Haskins weaves a political conspiracy plot to equal Grisham or Ludlum, and then pumps it with patriotism, camaraderie and a touch of romance,” says Jackie Houchin in the American Chronicle, while the ubiquitous Harriet Klausner was equally impressed at Genre Go-Round Reviews: “CHASIN’ THE WIND is an engaging crime thriller that will have readers (with the exception of those who still expect to find the WMDs) rethinking the relationship with Cuba … an offbeat, entertaining thriller.” Wot? There were no WMDs? Sheesh, how come we’re always the last to know?

Corn On The Cobblers

Occasional CAP lurker Eimear gets in touch to bring us up to speed on the Joan Brady (not pictured, right) story, the poignant tale of the serious novelist who received an out-of-court settlement of £115,000 from a cobbler near her Totnes home on the basis that the fumes from the solvents used at the factory had caused her ‘physical distress and mental distraction’. Mark Lawson of The Guardian takes up the tale, to wit:
“One example given of her problems – and here we come to the reason that Brady should probably not walk down any dark alleys filled with crime writers – was that she had become so confused by the fumes that she was forced to abandon a serious novel, COOL WIND FROM THE FUTURE, and turn instead to mystery fiction, with BLEEDOUT …
  “And yet this is a strange time for the claim to be made, because the boundaries between the two sides of fiction – which we can loosely call literary and populist, although all of the terminology used in these debates tends to be pejorative – is visibly breaking down. The most recent books published by John Banville after winning the Man Booker prize are two detective novels. It can be argued that by publishing these under a pseudonym – Benjamin Black – he solidified the distinction between grim, prize-winning prose and serious paperback-selling stuff. But Doris Lessing, who wrote science fiction under her own name, has just taken the Nobel; and the Costa First Novel prize this year was won by a mystery story, Catherine O’Flynn’s WHAT WAS LOST (right), which isn’t bad for a fumehead …
  “The solution is that, as with non-crime fiction, we should make our generalisations only from the best. But the fumeheads will understandably be fuming about Brady’s remarks. Perhaps the only option is to establish a counter precedent in law, in which a best-selling crime writer argues in court that following a blow to the head or prescription of antidepressants, he was unable to pen anything except a poetically written Bildungsroman about the way that the PE teacher used to look at him. While any reader of her work will be pleased that Joan Brady has sorted out her problem with the cobbler, her attitude to crime fiction is, well, cobblers.”
Incidentally, BLEEDOUT sold in excess of 10,000 copies. Which may explain why Ms Brady is currently writing a follow-up. Well, it’s that or she’s still so bofto on the wowee fumes that she can’t distinguish between serious and genre fiction anymore. Tragic, we call it … Oh, and while we’re on the whole serious / genre thingagummy, here’s the link to the latest instalment of Benny Blanco’s THE LEMUR, currently being serialised in the New York Times.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

“You Read Me Poetry That’s Irish And So Black.”*

With three Irish writers nominated for Edgar awards, Declan Burke asks why Irish crime fiction - aka dubh noir - is suddenly so popular in the USA.

Have you heard that Shrooms and Once have both been nominated for Best Movie at the Oscars? No, you haven’t – but can you imagine the hoo-hah if they were?
  Three Irish writers have been shortlisted for the prestigious Mystery Writers of America ‘Edgar’ awards. Named after Edgar Allen Poe, the man who single-handedly invented the crime genre, the Edgars are crime fiction’s equivalent of the Oscars.
  In the ‘Best Novel’ category, Ken Bruen (right) was nominated for PRIEST, in which Galway private eye Jack Taylor investigates the decapitation of a priest in a confessional. Benjamin Black, aka John Banville, got the nod for his debut crime novel, CHRISTINE FALLS, in which pathologist Quirke investigates the death of the eponymous character in 1950’s Dublin.
  Tana French, the Vermont-born author who now lives in Ireland, was nominated in the ‘Best First Novel by an American Author’ category. IN THE WOODS follows a male and female detective partnership as they investigate what appears to be the ritualistic murder of a teenage girl in a leafy Dublin suburb.
  Bruen is already a multiple award winner in the US, and has previously been nominated for an Edgar; Tana French made the New York Times best-seller list some months back; and Black / Banville’s upcoming crime story, THE LEMUR, the third in the Quirke series following on from The Silver Swan, is currently being serialised in the New York Times.
  The glaring question, of course, is why aren’t these writers as popular in Ireland as they are in the US?
  “It’s the old chestnut of crime fiction not being considered ‘real’ writing,” says Bruen. “Funny that, with a Booker-winner [Banville] and a Pulitzer-winner [Michael Chabon] on the shortlist.”
  And yet John Connolly’s superbly written novels, for example, have been best-sellers in the US and Ireland for many years. Why has the new wave of Irish crime writers, the dubh noir of Declan Hughes, Brian McGilloway, Ingrid Black, Alan Glynn, Arlene Hunt and Adrian McKinty, suddenly become so popular there now?
  McKinty (left), an Irish writer now living in Colorado, believes that the new wave of Irish crime writing has coincided with the fact that America’s perception of Ireland has ‘changed radically in the last few years’. “Many of the old stereotypes are finally being laid to rest,” he says, “and Americans have discovered that Ireland is no longer the country of sheep, rain, ANGELA’S ASHES and The Quiet Man.
  “Crime writers embrace modernity and contemporary problems,” he says, “and Americans can’t help but notice in their visits to Dublin that Ireland has the youngest population in Europe and Dublin is a multi-cultural, twenty-first century city.”
  Charles Ardai, co-publisher at Hard Case Crime, which publishes the novels BUST and SLIDE, Ken Bruen’s collaborations with American author Jason Starr, suggests that Irish crime writing possesses a ‘wounded romanticism’ for American readers.
  “Irish settings are particularly appealing, not only because they have a touch of the exotic for US readers but because of the lyricism and sadness of the Irish voice – it blends nicely with the wounded romanticism that has been at the heart of crime fiction ever since Raymond Chandler make it his speciality,” he says. “No one can express pain and grief as resoundingly as an Irishman. No hard-drinking private eye can toss back pints with more fury (or more stamina) than an Irish P.I. And the poetry of the language is just delicious: by and large, American voices just can’t compete with Irish ones when it comes to describing a scene in a tasty way.”
  “Before Christmas,” McKinty says, by way of explaining the new-found American appetite for Irish rather than ‘Oirish’ stories, “I went to the movies to see I Am Legend. The preview for PS, I Love You elicited groans from the audience, but the preview for Martin McDonagh’s new crime thriller, In Bruges, brought belly laughs. That surely is a sign of something.” – Declan Burke

This article is reprinted with the kind permission of the Evening Herald


* A free copy of THE BIG O to the first person to identify the song. Ray Banks? You’re barred.