“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 9, 2008

It Can’t Be Mills & Boon Every Day, Right?

Love me, love my crime fiction. Mills & Boon, of all people, are about to dive into the murky world of gats ‘n’ gams with a crime imprint, according to The Bookseller (possible scenario, right). To wit:
Mills & Boon is to launch a crime and thriller series in its first venture beyond romance publishing since it was founded 100 years ago. Black Star Crime kicks off in August with five titles, and will initially publish five titles every two months. The heavily-branded short novels will be priced at £3.99.
  M&B anticipates sales of between 250,000 and 500,000 units a year for the series, which would be around 2% of the total UK crime and thriller market. Nielsen BookScan’s crime and thriller product class was worth £138.9m in 2007, with 22.7 million books sold.
  “Since 2001, crime and thriller sales have increased by 70%,” said M&B marketing manager Oliver Rhodes. “There were two ways for us to go. We could either do what everyone else is doing, and do it better, or carve out our own niche and try to create a unique proposition. The idea is that if people find something they like they can go back and find something similar. It is a brand promise.”
  Black Star Crime will include a range of genres, from cosy mysteries to hard-core thrillers, with authors to include new names as well as more established writers. M&B has liaised with Working Partners to generate some of the concepts, as well as acquiring titles itself, and is adamant the quality of the stories is paramount. Launch titles include RUNAWAY MINISTER by Nick Curtis, STREETWISE by Chris Freeman, A NARROW ESCAPE by Faith Martin and MURDER PLOT by Lance Elliott.

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: CONFESSIONS OF A FALLEN ANGEL by Ronan O’Brien

Skating on the Surface of Celtic Tiger Ireland

Playing with his friends as a kid, Charlie nearly dies and from the moment of this early brush with mortality he is condemned, not to see dead people, but to dream their deaths. And so, with this unwanted capacity for premonition unifying his story and his life, Charlie’s tale unfolds.
  As can be imagined, Ronan O’Brien – a solicitor who specialises in criminal law – in this, his first novel, is not overly concerned with rendering a gritty Irish realism, rather he is content to flit between the comic and the serious, the extraordinary and the mundane, flirting with the fantastic along the way.
  Appropriately enough in the circumstances, there are three or four novels haunting this one particular novel: at times it is a kind of supernatural thriller, then a love story, with an ultra violent “gangster” element also thrown in for good measure.
  In keeping with the constantly shifting register, the novel moves at a fairly rapid pace. Apart from in the love story which is positioned mid-way through, in which Charlie allows himself the luxury of dwelling on his most positive relationship with the love of his life, Aisling, the novel’s plot offers numerous twists and turns.
  Charlie’s dilemma is one of trying to cheat destiny in his efforts to save those who die in his dreams. But, as is the way with fate (as the Greek tragedians knew), the outcome is always maddeningly fixed. Everything else in this world, however, is manifestly chaotic and unanticipated. It’s an odd juxtaposition that O’Brien presents, and he just about pulls it off.
  O’Brien’s achievement – and it is an achievement – is to keep all these constituent parts from becoming a cumbersome and unpalatable pudding. Charlie’s penchant for on-the-button one-liners, his wry perspective on the collection of oddball characters that people the fictional Northside Dublin village of Rathgorman keeps the reader’s attention and interest focused. The adult voice is the more convincing and consistent: the younger self as filtered through the grown-up Charlie appears awkward in comparison.
  In many ways, his hero is reminiscent of Patrick McCabe’s masterful creation Francie Brady, and O’Brien even nods his acknowledgement to this precursor by having Charlie read THE BUTCHER BOY. In a sense though, this book is “Butcher Boy-lite”, mainly owing to the deliberate way CONFESSIONS OF A FALLEN ANGEL avoids concentrating on any one aspect or element of the plot or character. The singularly absurdist vision of McCabe’s macabre fiction is absent here and so too is the dynamic edge that the truly unexpected provides.
  Despite the moments of heightened emotion surrounding the death of Aisling, the whirlwind of events surrounding Charlie’s life forces the reader to remain steadfastly engaged with the surface of this character instead of plumbing his depths. It is the way of the modern world, and the presence of a criminal element in the novel would seem to prove it.
  As with other narratives in which Irish gangland appears – be it journalism, film, the novel – their world of violence and blunt action becomes a means for the characters, and the audience, to get in touch with feeling, to be momentarily real. So deadening can modern life be that only extreme situations, and extreme violence particularly, can produce a reaction. It has become the cliché of modernity: certainly of Irish modernity.
  The reader, of course, should not take any of this too seriously. This novel is not a moral treatise on the vicissitudes of contemporary Irish life, nor is it meant to be. It is, nevertheless, a reflection of our relentless need for movement and distraction, there is no time here for stillness or quiet rumination: everything in this world is in flux.
  Is CONFESSIONS OF A FALLEN ANGEL a commentary on Celtic Tiger Ireland? Unintentionally perhaps. Is it a diverting read? Most definitely. – Derek Hand

Derek Hand is a lecturer in the English department in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. He is presently writing A HISTORY OF THE IRISH NOVEL for the Cambridge University Press.

This review first appeared in the Irish Times

Friday, February 8, 2008

Funky Friday’s Freaky-Deak

It’s Friday, it’s funky, to wit: Publishers Weekly announces that Benny Blanco’s THE LEMUR is slated to appear as a Spring 2007 Audio, despite the fact that it’s currently being serialised in the New York Times and it won’t be published as an actual, y’know, novel until June … Harrumph, etc. Staying with the pseudonymous Black family: the first sighting of the upcoming Ingrid Black novel, THE NIGHT SHIFT, hoves into view over an October-shaped horizon, with the blurb elves at Michael Joseph / Penguin declaiming thusly: “It takes a lot to spook ex-FBI agent Saxon, but with a serial killer on the loose in Dublin, this is going to be a Halloween night to remember. Ingrid Black’s novel is a dark and inventive real-time thriller …” Hurrah! Two fascinating pieces for anyone still flogging the horse called ‘crime fiction is as good as that literary rubbish any day’: Charles McGrath had an excellent piece entitled ‘Great Literature? Depends Whodunit’ in the New York Times, while Lawrence Douglas and Alexander George compile The Literary Police Blotter at The Chronicle of Higher Education. Camus, Shakespeare, Kafka, Homer, Nabokov, Fitzgerald, Dostoevsky and Cervantes are among the usual suspects being interrogated for writing ‘classic’ crime narratives … Staying with classic crime narratives: Twenty Major’s genre-busting opus THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX PARK goes on the shelves next month – catch up here with Twenty’s drinking buddy Lucky Luciano, the ‘compassionate assassin’ … Finally, and by popular demand, it’s another Jim Steinman classic for the Funky Friday vid: yep, it’s Bonnie Tyler lacerating her vocal cords on Holding Out for a Hero from the soundtrack of FOOTLOOSE, complete with Kevin Bacon, subtitles and a pretty blatant nod (even leaving aside the chicky-run tractors) to REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (jump here for Marlon Brando’s screen-test as Jim Stark). Roll it there, Collette …

D.B. Or Not D.B., That Is The Question

D.B. Shan, aka Darren Shan, the prolific and best-selling author of young adult horror novels, makes a play for the adult crime market when PROCESSION OF THE DEAD is published on March 3rd. Quoth the blurb elves:
The first volume in a noirish, gritty urban fantasy for adults from the bestselling author otherwise known as Darren Shan. Quick-witted and cocksure, young upstart Capac Raimi arrives in the City determined to make his mark. As he learns the tricks of his new trade from his Uncle Theo – extortion, racketeering, threatening behaviour – he’s soon well on his way to becoming a promising new gangster. Then he crosses paths with The Cardinal, and his life changes forever. The Cardinal is the City and the City is The Cardinal. They are joined at the soul. Nothing moves on the streets, or below them, without the Cardinal’s knowledge. His rule is absolute. As Capac begins to discover more about the extent of the Cardinal’s influence on his own life he is faced with hard choices. And as his ambition soars ever higher he will learn all there is to know about loss, and the true cost of ultimate power!
Hmmm … Any chance yon Capac Raimi is a nod to schlock-horror maestro and A SIMPLE PLAN director Sam Raimi? Only time, that perennially doity rat, will tell …

Thursday, February 7, 2008

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 2,057: Laura Lippman

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?
MILDRED PIERCE by James M. Cain. I know most people don’t consider it a crime novel, but it does have accounting fraud.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Literary fiction. Seriously.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Finishing the draft that goes off to my editor.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
No way. I’m not well read enough.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I’m going to cheat here and say A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR because a) Dennis Lehane’s parents were Irish immigrants and b) he has ridiculously good karma when it comes to film adaptation – MYSTIC RIVER, GONE, BABY, GONE, and now Scorsese is directing SHUTTER ISLAND. I don’t know why Hollywood doesn’t screw up Dennis’s books, but so far, so good.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing is working alone. The best thing is working alone.
The pitch for your next novel is …?
Memoirist in a slump returns to her hometown of Baltimore, thinking she might tease a book out of a little-known murder case and realizes her investigation will come at a great personal cost. Oh wait, that’s the novel I’m writing. The novel I’m publishing next month is ANOTHER THING TO FALL: Tess Monaghan collides with Hollywood, literally.
Who are you reading right now?
David Lodge, Martin Amis, Michael Pollan, Jacob Weisberg, Winifred Watson. I tend to read a lot of books at once, until one breaks away from the pack, and the Pollan is in the lead right now, followed by Weisberg’s THE BUSH TRAGEDY.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Obstinate, angry, inadequate.

Laura Lippman’s ANOTHER THING TO FALL will be published in March

Not All Crimes Are Actually Illegal

Crime Fic at It’s A Crime! has supported some noble causes in the past, but few so noble as her current one, which picks up on a campaign being run by Norm at Crime Scraps. Quoth Crime Fic:
"CARE Blackerton House is registered to provide care to people under 65 years of age with learning disabilities. It is run by the charity CARE which states on its home page:
“Our aim is to assist men and women with learning disabilities to live a full and purposeful life at the heart of society and to help them to gain independence through the encouragement of further training in everyday and vocational skills.”
  "Norm at Crime Scraps has recently been writing about the risks to such people in the community and CARE’s proposal to sell the site and move its residents to another location, which he argues is of less quality with the disruption of the move likely to cause immense stress to the residents. He has now started an online petition and in his post to announce this, he also lists his previous posts which cover his thoughts on the proposal and its background. You can find it here along with a link to the petition. I think Norm makes a strong case.
  "Alas, whatever the government tries to tell us, we live in a period where certain crimes are mounting and it is easy to prey on the vulnerable. Indeed, Disability Now is maintaining a “hate crime dossier” to support its arguments for its hate crime campaign.
  "If you feel you already know enough to add weight to the petition, you can go directly here. But please read Norm’s posts and if you have a blog and feel empathy, please link as I have done."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

“It’s Writing, Jim, But Not As We Know It.”

How time flies, eh? It seems like it was only last week when we were letting you know that Ken Bruen’s latest, SANCTUARY, is due in June from Transworld and that – woah, that was last week. And now the Edgar-nominated Sir Kenneth of Bruen gets in touch to let us know that ONCE WERE COPS (funkadelic new cover, right) will be St Martins’ lead title come September, and that “it’s darker than AMERICAN SKIN”. Crumbs! Has Bruen cracked the whole ‘multiple universe’ malarkey at the heart of quantum physics, and marshalled all his theoretical selves to write novels at virtually the speed of light? And can we get a (theoretically infinite) Star Trek episode out of it? Hmmmm. Only time, that notoriously doity rat, will tell …

The Embiggened O # 2,049: Our Spinal Tap Moment

Sandra Ruttan at Spinetingler Magazine was kind enough to review our humble offering THE BIG O, and once we winkled out all the quibbles, ho-hums and snorts of disbelief that to our mind rather ruined the overall effect, we were left with the following, to wit:
“Burke shows remarkable skill at weaving a complex story from multiple points of view and pulling the strands together in an engaging fashion, and he clearly has the genius required to pull off a large-scale story … The emphasis is not on technical accuracy in terms of police procedure or organized crime. Capers are wild stories with a humorous edge, and THE BIG O delivers in spades, so plan for a healthy chunk of time, kick back with a few margaritas and indulge in Burke’s dark comedy – this is an author with a lot of promise, well worth taking note of, and I’m looking forward to his next book.”
Incidentally, eagle-eyed readers will have noted that Declan Burke is lined up to contribute to Sandra Ruttan’s new website At Central Booking, which yet again raises the spectre of bias, log-rolling and generalised back-scratchery. For more on this topic, jump here and here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 2,063: Ronan O’Brien

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 have to say two books here but they’re by the same author: CARLITO’S WAY and AFTER HOURS, both of which I’m completely mad about. Believe it or not, they’re written by a Supreme Court judge named Edwin Torres who as far as I know, still practices as a judge in New York City. The gangster narrator in his books is so credible and vibrant, he just leaps off the page.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Biographies or anything that is not fiction. I feel that a writer has to read a lot of fiction in order to stir the fires of his own imagination. Writing without ever reading other people’s work is like flying a plane that has run out of fuel: you’ll probably be okay for a while but there’s a mountain looming and you need something in the tank in order to soar above it.
Most satisfying writing moment?
When I finally nailed the perfect ending for CONFESSIONS OF A FALLEN ANGEL on my sixth attempt, after some dark days when I had serious anguish about whether a satisfying ending was even possible.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Something by John Connolly, possibly THE UNQUIET. My favourite one of his books is THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS, although I wouldn’t call that a crime novel.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I haven’t read all that many Irish crime novels, to be honest. Karen Gillece’s book, LONGSHORE DRIFT, is about an abducted child, so if that qualifies as a crime novel, then I’ll nominate that one. I thought it was great.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing as far as I’m concerned is writing to finish a book in time for a tight deadline because then you don’t have time to explore tangents that might lead to something great, or might lead to nothing. But when time is of the essence, then you don’t have the luxury of getting it wrong a couple of times before finally getting it right. And if you’re a slow writer like I am, it means you have to get the basic plot pretty much spot on at the first attempt. But then I stop and listen to myself, and think that I really don’t have much to moan about. There is nothing hard about being a writer compared to say, someone who works in a coalmine, or someone who unblocks sewers for a living. The best thing about being a writer is hearing complete strangers say that my book moved them to tears.
The pitch for your next novel is …?
It’s about three very different people whose lives become intertwined: a magician, an artist and a solicitor and it will make you laugh and make you cry. Needless to say, the lawyer is the evil one.
Who are you reading right now?
Bret Easton Ellis. I just finished LUNAR PARK which was weird and wonderful, and I’ll probably read AMERICAN PSYCHO next.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Unmissable, unputdownable, unforgettable.

CONFESSIONS OF A FALLEN ANGEL is Ronan O’Brien’s debut novel.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “The fact that the build-up was so good made the fizzled payoff extra-disappointing – but at the same time the build-up was so good that it seems unfair not to credit it as a real achievement on its own … Though the resolution was deeply frustrating, I don’t regret surrendering to the story, and I may even try French’s next book. But oh, what could have been!” says Levi Stahl at I’ve Been Reading Lately of Tana French’s IN THE WOODS. Rita The Bookworm is more expansive: “I really liked this book. It’s a hefty book and the characters are a big part of it, so you can’t expect it to be a typical mystery that you charge through. Its pace is one that asks you to be a little patient for the pay-off and just enjoy the ride, and the writing makes that easy.” Karen Chisholm at AustCrimeFiction has taken a shine to Declan Hughes’ THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD: “Typically Irish in that the family loyalties and enmities that go back generations, are faithfully carried forward to the current day; typically hard-boiled thriller in that it portrays a stark brutality, beautifully balanced by a central character that's as tough as nails and fragile as glass all at the same time.” They’re still pouring in for Benny Blanco: “THE SILVER SWAN is a defter and more complex book than its predecessor, which occasionally found plot development smothered under the weight of Banville / Black’s always ravishing prose. The new novel boasts a neat whodunnit plot and a delightful command of suspense, but there’s also a kind of mordant, near-surreal playfulness about the characters’ appearance and actions this time, and the constricted dance that they undertake,” says Tim Martin at The Independent. Over at Reviewing the Evidence, Denise Pickles is a little more pick(le)y: “There is a certain literary, evocative note to the prose found in THE SILVER SWAN. John Banville, [Benjamin] Black’s name in the world of letters, has won more than one award, so no doubt that accounts for the standard of THE SILVER SWAN. It’s a shame, though, that he didn’t concentrate on lightening the tone of this very depressing work, for all it is so beautifully written.” A quick one for Derek Landy’s SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT: “Hilarious and suspenseful … This is really well done urban fantasy,” reckons Jennie at Biblio File … Meanwhile, the Irish Emigrant likes Ronan O’Brien’s debut, CONFESSIONS OF A FALLEN ANGEL: “… this engaging, unusual and beautifully-told tale … will bear a second reading to appreciate all the nuances of the narrative.” Sweet … Finally, a couple of big-ups for Catherine O’Flynn’s Costa-winning debut, WHAT WAS LOST: “It is good, very good. An easy, entertaining read with humorous observations of contemporary life, this novel is also dark, scary and cleverly constructed … It is an enjoyable comedy, an intriguing, sinister mystery and a harsh criticism of the consumerism of modern life. Rarely is such a well crafted book so eminently readable,” says Babygrem at Christchurch City Libraries Blog. Karen Meek at Euro Crime liked it a lot too: “I couldn’t put WHAT WAS LOST down … An amazing debut novel and Catherine O’Flynn will be hard pushed to top the outstanding critical reception it has deservedly received.” A word to the wise, people – don’t argue with Karen Meek. She’ll be inheriting the earth any day soon …

Mi Casa, Su Casa: Adrian McKinty On James Ellroy

The Grand Vizier writes: The motives behind ‘Mi Casa, Su Casa’ are twofold. First, the idea is to give guest bloggers the few molecules of oxygen of publicity Crime Always Pays can provide. Secondly, even we’re sick of listening only to ourselves, and we reckon some new voices will provide fresh perspectives on crime fiction in general, and Irish crime fiction in particular. And so, with minimum fanfare – a tiny tootle there, please, maestro – we introduce the first of what we’re hoping will be an ongoing and extensive series of guest blogs, in which Adrian McKinty (right) waxes lyrical about ‘the Tolstoy of crime fiction’.
The Rebirth of Cool: James Ellroy’s THE COLD SIX THOUSAND

In 2007 I taught a course in American crime fiction at Naropa University in Boulder. I looked at the evolution of the American crime novel, from Poe through Hammett and Chandler, and I ended with James Ellroy’s LA CONFIDENTIAL, which appeared in 1990. I had put Ellroy in the curriculum because most of the students had seen movie versions of his fiction; however, I admitted to the class that I was not a huge fan of Ellroy’s writing. I had read his earliest crime novels and three of the titles in his celebrated LA Quartet without being completely convinced. His best books seemed to be LA CONFIDENTIAL, THE BIG NOWHERE and WHITE JAZZ, but for me these novels were, at best, flawed masterpieces. Ellroy’s plots tended to get away from him and his subtext about the greed and corruption of policemen, DA’s, politicians, Hollywood – everyone really – in 1950’s Southern California did not resonate with me on a deep level. None of his characters were particularly captivating and it seemed that Ellroy himself often got bored with his corrupt cops and ex-cops, frequently killing them, and moving the story on with a different lead.
  In these early novels Ellroy’s (right) descriptions are beautiful but chilly and his dialogue, although authentic and rich, lacks a sense of humour.
  I shared some of these observations with my class but one of my students disagreed with me in the strongest possible terms and asked me if I had read AMERICAN TABLOID or THE COLD SIX THOUSAND. I admitted that I hadn’t and she suggested that I should.
  The following month at Denver Airport I picked up a copy of THE COLD SIX THOUSAND and began reading it in a long security line. I finished it the same night at four in the morning in a hotel in Vancouver. A week later I read the book again. THE COLD SIX THOUSAND, I decided, was no ‘flawed masterpiece’ but rather one of the best books I had read so far this decade.
  James Ellroy’s biography is the stuff from which serial killers or junkies or mental patients or, rarely, great writers are made. His mother was murdered in 1958 when he was only 10 years old – the killer was never found. Ellroy’s father was a right-wing nut who drank heavily, had affairs, and whacked his son around to toughen him up. Ellroy took on the persona of a teenage neo-Nazi to torment his Jewish neighbours and he became a compulsive petty thief and burglar. As he got better at breaking into people’s houses his compulsions grew weirder. He would often spy on pretty Jewish girls, wait until their homes were empty, break in and sniff their underwear. Frequently arrested, LAPD cops became surrogate older brothers who eventually put him on the straight and narrow. Ellroy describes these early years in the brilliant memoir MY DARK PLACES. The LAPD and the discovery of crime fiction, he says, were the two things that saved his life.
  His early novels did well, but it was the success of the movie version of LA CONFIDENTIAL that seems to have given Ellroy the confidence and financial freedom to write fiction the way he always wanted to.
  Ostensibly THE COLD SIX THOUSAND is the story of a Las Vegas cop who arrives in Dallas on the day of the Kennedy assassination, but really it is the story of the 1960’s themselves and all the madness of Vietnam, Cuba, race riots, demonstrations and the hippy movement. But not content with writing a book about a whole decade, Ellroy decided to reinvent his prose style completely. Gone are most of the verbs and adverbs, the prose descriptions, the purple patches. What’s left is the distilled essence of the narrative, the bare bones, as rich as bad news from the AP wire, as lyrical as a haiku. This is how he describes ex-FBI agent Ward Little’s attempt to take Las Vegas for his boss Howard Hughes (Drac):
Little planned. Little sowed. The Boys reaped. Bribes/PR/extortion. Blackmail / philanthropy. It took four years. Drac owns Las Vegas now.”
  Other writers might have spent a chapter on that episode.
  Critics complained that Hemingway wrote as if he was dictating the book for a telegraph operator; Ellroy could be the called the crime novelist for the email and text message generation. He seems to have taken seriously the famous claim of Joseph Conrad that “a work of art should justify itself in every line.” In THE COLD SIX THOUSAND not a single word is wasted, every sentence moves the plot, every paragraph tells a story. And what a story. The assassination of JFK, the hit on Martin Luther King, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and a supporting cast that includes Nixon, Howard Hughes and J. Edgar Hoover.
  After reading THE COLD SIX THOUSAND I devoured the prequel to that book, AMERICAN TABOLID, and ideally it should be read first, although it isn’t quite as brilliant. There is also a rumoured third novel to come, which will conclude Ellroy’s look at this period, roughly 1958 – 1973. If it’s only half as good as the others in the trilogy it still might be the best crime novel of 2008.
  Many people won’t be able to get past Ellroy’s machine-gun prose style or his racist characters or the completely insane conspiracy theory at the heart of THE COLD SIX THOUSAND but stick with the book and you’ll be rewarded. Ellroy’s phrases and dialogue rattle around in your brain. You start to think like Ellroy. You start to talk like him. Returning from Vancouver, my wife asked me if I’d managed to get that James Ellroy novel I was after. I told her: “I scoped the book, I bought the book, I read the book, I dug it.”
  In interviews Ellroy sometimes describes himself as “the Tolstoy of crime fiction.” His boast is inaccurate. He’s not that ponderous. He is, though, one of the greats. I believe that THE COLD SIX THOUSAND elevates Ellroy into the pantheon. It is perhaps the most important American crime novel since Patricia Highsmith’s THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY and it certainly proves that Ellroy is a worthy successor to Chandler, Hammett, Cain and Jim Thompson.
  I would guess that future lecturers won’t be as ignorant of Ellroy as I was and that any good course in American crime fiction will not only explain the revolution that began with THE MALTESE FALCON but also talk about the new revolution that started after James Ellroy began firing on all cylinders. – Adrian McKinty
Adrian McKinty is the author of the ‘Dead’ trilogy. He is currently working on a novel for Holt.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Best Things In Life Are Free … Books

The ever-lovely people at Hodder Headline Ireland are giving away three copies of the ever-lovely John Connolly’s THE UNQUIET, which has just gone into paperback. Quoth the blurb elves:
Daniel Clay, a once-respected psychiatrist, has been missing for years following revelations about harm done to the children in his care. Believing him dead, his daughter Rebecca has tried to come to terms with her father’s legacy, but her fragile peace is about to be shattered. Someone is asking questions about Daniel Clay, someone who refuses to believe that he is dead: the revenger Merrick, a father and a killer obsessed with discovering the truth about his own daughter’s disappearance. Private detective Charlie Parker is hired to make Merrick go away, but Merrick will not be stopped. Soon Parker finds himself trapped between those who want the truth about Daniel Clay to be revealed, and those who want it to remain hidden at all costs. But there are other forces at work. Someone is funding Merrick’s hunt, a ghost from Parker’s past. And Merrick’s actions have drawn others from the shadows, half-glimpsed figures intent upon their own form of revenge, pale wraiths drifting through the ranks of the unquiet dead. The Hollow Men have come . . .
To be in with a chance of winning a copy for free, gratis and sweet bugger-all, just answer the following question.
Is John Connolly:
(a) lovely;
(b) ever-lovely;
(c) hell, even John Connolly doesn’t have words to describe how blummin’ lovely he is.
Answers to dbrodb(at)gmail.com before noon on Thursday, February 7, putting ‘I wish they made John Connolly teddy-bears’ in the subject line. Et bon chance, mes amis.