“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, April 5, 2008

Welcome To Lilyput: # 2


It’s still Lilyput’s world. We still don’t mind …

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Best Things In Life Are Free … Books

As one or two of you may be aware, a young whipper- snapper by the name of John Connolly has a new novel on the way, with THE REAPERS due on a shelf near you on May 15. Thanks to the friendly-as-a-hungry-Buddhist folk at Hodder Headline Ireland, however, Crime Always Pays has three ARCs of THE REAPERS to give away this very week, and it would have been four copies only that the Grand Vizier personally waylaid the delivery guy and half-inched a signed copy by said tyro, the Connolly dude, with an ambush that utilised a diversionary tactic involving two unicorns, a 1:52 scale model of Noah’s Ark and a wooded clearing surrounded entirely by liquorice trees. Anyhoo, quoth the blurb elves:
They are the Reapers, the elite among killers. Men so terrifying that their names are mentioned only in whispers. The assassin Louis is one of them. But now Louis, and his partner, Angel, are themselves targets. And there is no shortage of suspects. A wealthy recluse sends them north to a town that no longer exists on a map. A town ruled by a man with very personal reasons for wanting Louis’ blood spilt. There they find themselves trapped, isolated, and at the mercy of a killer feared above all others: the assassin of assassins, Bliss. Thanks to former detective Charlie Parker, help is on its way. But can Angel and Louis stay alive long enough for it to reach them?
To be in with a chance of winning a copy of THE REAPERS, just answer the following question:
Is John Connolly:
(a) the sexiest Irish writer alive;
(b) the sexiest Irish writer alive or dead;
(c) the sexiest Irish writer alive, dead, undead or trapped in some kind of supernatural limbo between this world and the next?
Answers in the comment box below, please, with an email contact, as the Grand Vizier claims he is way too busy right now to respond to all the emails individually, the lazy bugger. The closing date, by the way, is noon on Tuesday, April 8th. Et bon chance, mes amis

Funky Friday’s Freaky-Deak

It’s Friday, it’s funky, to wit: Marshal Zeringue subjected Declan Hughes’ latest, THE DYING BREED, to the Page 69 Test. Does the boy Hughes, along with virtually everyone else who takes the test, offer a variation on the phrase ‘Y’know, funnily enough, page 69 doesn’t really do the book justice’? Suck it and see … It’s not so long ago we were giving it socks about John Connolly not being nominated for awards. Now the guy can’t stop winning, the latest being the Crime Spree gong for THE UNQUIET. Huzzah! Karma, we call it – vote Connolly or get a CAP in yo ass … A small slew of Benny Blanco-related material: first up, an interview with the not noticeably modest Benny (aka John Banville) in the Village Voice (Q: Was there some surprise that it was THE SEA that you won [the Booker Prize] for and not THE BOOK OF EVIDENCE? A: “Oh, yeah, THE BOOK OF EVIDENCE should have won. THE UNTOUCHABLE [1997] should have won. That was a real Booker book. But that wasn’t even short-listed.”). And here’s Benny reading from THE SILVER SWAN and generally pretending he’s not raging that he has to write grubby genre fiction to earn a few bob at the oul’ scribbling … A couple of competition giveaways, people: My Village is giving away copies of DB Shan’s PROCESSION OF THE DEAD, while the Birmingham Mail is lashing out freebies of Scott Mariani’s THE ALCHEMIST’S SECRET … Catherine O’Flynn is looking for your vote for the Waterstone’s Newcomer of the Year in the Galaxy British Book Awards, for her debut novel WHAT WAS LOST, so get in there and vote early and often … There’s an interview with Sean Moncrieff, the author of THE HISTORY OF THINGS, over at the RTE Guide … There’ll be a fine crime fiction representation at the Wexford Book Festival (April 11-13), with Eoin Colfer, Derek Landy and John Banville turning up to wibble their cotton socks off, although Benny Blanco might have something to say about Banville being credited with writing THE SILVER SWAN … Apropos of nothing at all, although Ray Banks might get a kick out of it, here’s Bobby Gillespie talking about Arthur Lee’s Love (cheers, Karlos) in the forthcoming documentary, ‘Love Story’ … Over at Critical Mick, the Critical One interviews THE CAT TRAP author KT McCaffrey, and if you ever wanted to know about anal bleaching, KT is a veritable font of knowledge, apparently … Meanwhile, Gerard Brennan at CSNI grills THE LOST CHORD author Tony Bailie … Patrick McCabe’s crime fiction-ish WINTERWOOD has been short-listed for the Impac Prize, which is worth €100,000 … Staying with shortlists, and The Artist Formerly Known As Colin Bateman’s TITANIC 2020 has been nominated for the Bisto Book of the Year shortlist – insert your own ‘gravy train’ punchline here … Finally, the vid below showcases Allan Guthrie doing what he does best – waffling at length about how his blend of hardboiled noir and black humour is never likely to sell many books, the prize-winning, self-deprecating swine. The book trailer is for SAVAGE NIGHT and if you don’t go out and buy it RIGHT THIS BLUMMIN’ SECOND, Allan will send Ray Banks around to taunt your children. Roll it there, Collette …

A Radical New Departedure

You didn’t read it here first, folks. Courtesy of a Ken Bruen-shaped birdie, news filters through from the NoirCon in Philly that the Oscar-winning scribe of Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED, William Monahan, is to make his directing debut with a script based on Ken Bruen’s LONDON BOULEVARD. Quoth Variety:
William Monahan has teamed with Quentin Curtis to acquire rights to the Ken Bruen novel LONDON BOULEVARD.
  Monahan has nearly completed the script, and plans to make his directing debut on the crime drama this fall.
  LONDON BOULEVARD revolves around a South London criminal who, after release from prison, tries to give up the gangster life by becoming a handyman for a reclusive young actress.
  Monahan will produce with Curtis, with whom he also acquired the John Pearson book THE GAMBLERS with Monahan planning to write that script for Warner Bros.
  Monahan, who won the Oscar for writing THE DEPARTED, will adapt the remake of the Korean film THE CHASER for WB and just signed with Paramount to write a fact-based thriller about a drug dealer who traded a prison sentence for an undercover stint. – Michael Fleming
Like, it’s not as if Ken Bruen’s weekend wasn’t already going well, what with him being bigged-up Irish style at the NoirCon, where he is this year’s honoured guest along with Dennis McMillan. Oh, and did we mention that Hollywood is going BUST? No? Sorry about that, we’ve been a little busy lately

Thursday, April 3, 2008

BLOODSTORM Und Drang

Yon Sam Millar’s (right) BLOODSTORM has been making a commotion of late, with the elves eager to point out that for once they’ve been off the Elf-Wonking Juice and on the case (see here and here). The Village Voice in particular caught the eye this week by describing Sam’s writing as “cheerful as a Leonard Cohen song on a wet night,” that being the kind of praise the Grand Vizier would gladly give his left kidney for, especially as he has booked front-row seats for Laughing Lenny’s giggle-fest in Dublin this coming June. Anyhoo, less of that and more of this:
“Irish author Sam Millar’s writing has been compared to Nick Cave’s. His books are as cheerful as a Leonard Cohen song on a wet night. It is easy to see why. Millar is prime-placed to write the dark and disturbing crime novels that he does because in his past he has visited some very dark places indeed. His latest tome, BLOODSTORM, keeps well within that dark tradition with a heart-stopping thriller … a relentlessly dark, page-turner of a book …” – The Village Voice, New York

“Belfast crime-writing giant Sam Millar’s controversial new book, BLOODSTORM, is the first in a new series of crime novels. This is not a novel for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach, but those with a strong stomach and a penchant for crime novels are advised to pick it up, for a taste of a true, Belfast original. BLOODSTORM opens cinematically, pulling no punches, warning of the darkness that lies in wait for the reader who carries on from here … this is an ambitious and gripping piece of work and Millar lays the groundwork here for a series which looks set to be addictive. Roll on the sequel.” – Verbal Magazine

“BLOODSTORM is a disturbing, page-turner of a book, keeping you on the edge of your seat right to the very end. Highly recommended for those with a strong stomach …” – Belfast Telegraph

“From the very first line to the last, BLOODSTORM grips your hands and refuses to let go, taking you on the darkest, scariest ride of your life. This is a compelling story of revenge and murder with an original voice worth dying for. Those with high blood pressure should avoid BLOODSTORM – and indeed all of Millar’s books. The rest of us can only wait for the next one to arrive …” – Irish Herald, San Francisco
Hmmm. Sounds like Sam’s just chucked down the gauntlet at Ken Bruen’s feet for the title of Prince of Darkness. Ding-ding, seconds out …

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 2,044: Tom Piccirilli

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?
Probably Chandler’s THE LONG GOODBYE. It’s hardly a crime novel at all, but a real exploration of friendship, lost love, and what it means to have a dark heart.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Anybody other than Jack Taylor.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
None of my reading is a guilty pleasure. I’m proud of it all, even the crap. I read everything, from crime to westerns to horror to mainstream to male adventure stuff like The Destroyer and Ninja Master series. I like old novels and series based on television shows and films. None of it makes me feel guilty so long as I enjoy it, because it all goes into the stew of my own writing.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Nothing beats selling your first novel. A close second was when Dean Koontz said he liked my writing. When one of the world’s bestselling authors says he digs your work, you stand a little straighter.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Possibly Ken Bruen’s AMERICAN SKIN. Dark as hell in intent and mood, with a lush Irish atmosphere made even more prevalent because it’s transposed to a dusty area of America.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I’d love to see Declan Hughes’ BLOOD series turned into films. They’re truly gripping stories, but more than that there’s something inherently disturbing and even creepy about them. How the crimes involved are always so connected by family and history and working class neighborhoods. I think they’d really do well on film.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
No health insurance or real stability/getting to sleep until noon & being your own boss & not having to deal with rush hour traffic
The pitch for your next book is …?
THE COLD SPOT, due out from Bantam in April, is about a young car thief who splits from his brutal career criminal grandfather, goes straight, finds happiness, and then years later when tragedy strikes has to get back in touch with the old man on a mission of vengeance. The novel after that is SHADOW SEASON, which I’m currently working on, is about an ex-cop now blind school teacher at an isolated girls’ school who has to take care of some unfinished business with some bad guys who show up one day.
Who are you reading right now?
Michael Marshall’s THE INTRUDERS.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
God appears every Saturday night after a few Jamesons, and he’s never said that to me yet. I think you’re just baiting me now.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Fuck that, I’m a writer. You think I’m going to describe my own work and process in three measly words, or even try. You’ve got the wrong boy. Just read them, then you can pick and choose your own descriptions, folks.

Tom Piccirilli’s THE COLD SPOT will be published in April

Welcome To Lilyput


It’s Princess Lily’s world. Mr and Mrs Grand Vizier just live there …

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: ORPHEUS RISING by (The Artist Formerly Known As Colin) Bateman

(Colin) Bateman’s latest offering sees a big change in direction from the likes of his Dan Starkey series. ORPHEUS RISING still has that cool dry wit that the Bangor man employs with casual ease, but it’s less frequent and more understated in this novel. And for this particular story, it seems to be the perfect amount of humour. I think that Bateman had a story to tell and although it was very different than anything he’s tried before, he’s listened to his instincts and told it the way he thought best. I have to say, it worked a bloody treat.
  I coasted through this book with utter ease and loved every sentence. It seems as if he’s really upped his game since I PREDICT A RIOT. The writing is much denser than his usual minimalist style, but I didn’t feel bogged down by description or superfluous detail. Each word counted. And so the result is a huge story that still manages to weigh in at a smidge under 400 hardback pages.
  ORPHEUS RISING is the poignant tale of Michael Ryan, an Irish writer who found the love of his life under dramatic circumstances (involving a shark and grisly amputation) and lost her soon after to a violent death (even more violent than the shark thing). Without spoiling the plot for potential readers, I’ll tell you that we accompany Michael on his return to the Florida town of Brevard, ten years after he found happiness and had it ripped from him, to face up to the ghosts of his past.
  I was very surprised by the supernatural content in ORPHEUS RISING. Again, I’m wary of spoilers and there’s not a lot you can talk about without robbing the book of some of its impact, so I’ll not go into how or why he uses it. Just trust me when I say, he does it with the aptitude of the likes of Stephen King or John Connolly, and I hope it’s an area he revisits in future work. He sets up a powerful world and sticks rigidly to his own rules, and the transition into suspension of disbelief is an easy one for the reader as a result.
  His next book will see a return to form, with MYSTERY MAN, a detective story set in the real No Alibis bookshop in Belfast, but featuring a fictional owner. Not David Torrans. But maybe in the book after next he’ll bend the boundaries of his chosen genre? I hope so. He does it very well.
  Orpheus Rising is a rare example of a perfect book. – Gerard Brennan

This review is republished by the kind permission of Crime Scene Northern Ireland

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “Bateman is one of those writers with a deliciously oblique view of life; he can sucker-punch us with hilarious comic jabs without letting the narrative sink into triviality … It puts him in the same enviable category as Christopher Brookmyre and Carl Hiaasen,” says Martin Lewin at The Guardian of ORPHEUS RISING. Over at Crime Scene Northern Ireland, Gerard Brennan agrees: “I was very surprised by the supernatural content in ORPHEUS RISING … Just trust me when I say he does it with the aptitude of the likes of Stephen King or John Connolly … He sets up a powerful world and sticks rigidly to his own rules, and the transition into suspension of disbelief is an easy one for the reader as a result.” A tardy one for Declan Hughes’ THE COLOUR OF BLOOD from Bruce Grossman at Bookgasm: “Even though the climax is disturbing, I was still drawn into the dense, complex story, which plays like a post-modern version of Archer, but never settling for the quick out.” Geraldine Brennan at The Guardian loves Siobhan Dowd’s BOG CHILD: “A captivating first love affair, a hilarious red herring and profound truths about politics and family add up to a novel set to win awards in the coming year.” Tony Bailie’s THE LOST CHORD is a new one on us, but the folks at The Irish Emigrant liked it: “A remarkable debut novel by Tony Bailie … THE LOST CHORD is a well-written and seemingly authentic take on the rollercoaster life of the rock musician interspersed with a tale of mystery that adds a new dimension to a well-worn theme.” They keep on coming for Benny Blanco’s THE SILVER SWAN: “There is a sedate, lugubrious quality to the writing, but it never becomes tiresome, mostly because of the quality of Black’s prose,” says Barbara Tom at MBTB’s Mystery Book Blog. “Banville mixes the best of literary description and atmosphere with the mystery plotting to create a memorable character,” reckons Bibliomane at A Reader’s Year. Martin Rubin at the San Francisco Chronicle can hardly contain himself: “CHRISTINE FALLS is rawer, more searingly, devastatingly powerful in its crushing impact. But THE SILVER SWAN, while still delivering many a staggering narrative or stylistic punch, is for the most part written in a more minor key, with a deeper, more profound, almost elegiac tone about it. There is a palpable sense of Banville as Black liberating himself, hitting his stride grandly and more comfortably, a realization that Quirke is a perfect vehicle for exploring Dublin as it was a half century ago.” Hell, even the Christian Science Monitor is impressed: “The author knows 1950s Dublin inside and out and the narrative drives onward with pitch-perfect passages, reminding the reader of the capable hands steering him toward resolution … Black never lets ornate stage-setting overshadow a lean plot free of any excess fat,” says Erik Spanberg. Elsewhere, the audio version of Derek Landy’s SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT is getting hup-yas, first from Darla at Books and Other Thoughts: “This is one of the best audio productions I’ve ever heard. From the jazzy, creepy introduction music to Rupert Degas’ amazing reading, I had a grin on my face from beginning to end … This is one of my favourite books of the year, and I am waiting very anxiously for the second book to be published.” The good folk at Sonderbooks agree: “The magic world Derek Landy creates is much darker and more sinister than Harry Potter’s … this is a fun and captivating adventure yarn.” Ian Sansom’s THE DELEGATE’S CHOICE tickled Sarah Hunter’s funny-bone over at The Skinny: “This novel is incredibly funny … Snorting with laughter is a habitual hazard with this novel … It’s a clever book, and an easy, enjoyable read.” Meanwhile, over at RTE (no, not Reviewing the Evidence – the Irish RTE), Linda McGee likes MISSING PRESUMED DEAD: “Arlene Hunt takes us on a gripping journey … Hunt has a great ability to inject suspense into her writing [but] while MISSING PRESUMED DEAD is action-packed, it manages to successfully combine a gritty crime storyline with a softer human story.” Bruce at Gonzo Geek likes the Ken Bruen / Jason Starr collaboration SLIDE: “It’s a tale of violence, sex, and double-crosses. Everything good noir should be.” Back to the feverishly reading Gerard Brennan of CSNI for his take on Sam Millar’s BLOODSTORM: “I enjoyed Mr Millar’s crisp and unrelenting style … most impressive is the story’s structure and how Millar chooses to reveal the final twists, catching the reader with a few surprises right up to the epilogue. So stay alert right up to the end, champ. There’s always one more body-shot coming.” A couple of big-ups for Tana French’s IN THE WOODS: “This gets 4 stars for being not only quite well written, but completely page turning. It’s like an Irish Law and Order SVU but with some really excellent prose. Tana French is indeed a very good writer,” reckons Sarah at Books Galore. Pat at Mysterious Yarns agrees: “IN THE WOODS is Tana French’s first novel and it really surprised me. I was expecting a competent mystery with good characters but this one got right under the skin of Rob Ryan and it totally hooked me. I read it in a weekend and could barely put it down.” Nice … Finally, David Park’s THE TRUTH COMMISSIONER is making waves: “Park’s soulful story about buried secrets, tangled lies and manipulated memories may be a little abstract for readers who didn’t follow the Troubles, but this powerful fiction both humanizes and universalizes the civil war that gripped Ireland for so long,” reckon the good folk at Publishers Weekly (via Powell’s), while Joseph O’Neill, writing in the New York Times, just about stops short of nominating Park for a Pulitzer: “It’s an ambitious premise that’s almost intolerably weighty; but with guile and wonderful imaginative sympathy, Park stays afloat on the most treacherous of thematic currents: the inhumanity of violence, the vulnerability of the individual before history, truth’s inextricability from power, the elusive nature of redemption … The central attribute of the writing — and it’s one of the things that make this novel of Ireland of more than parochial interest — is its conscientiousness. We’re reminded that with writers like David Park, the novel can itself be a kind of truth commission.” Ah, Norn Iron – if only they could have decommissioned the truth along with all those nasty bombs and bullets, they could all have lived happily and untruthfully after …

Sunday, March 30, 2008

And For His Next Trick …

Great Scott, etc. Formerly known as THE FULCANELLI MANUSCRIPT, Scott Mariani’s (right) thriller has been magically transformed into THE ALCHEMIST’S SECRET for its paperback incarnation. Quoth the blurb elves:
Where there’s Hope there’s trouble! Ben Hope lives on the edge. A former elite member of the SAS, Ben is tortured by a tragedy from his past and now devotes his life to finding kidnapped children. But when Ben is recruited to locate an ancient manuscript which could save a dying child, he embarks on the deadliest quest of his life. The document is alleged to contain the formula for the elixir of life, discovered by the brilliant alchemist Fulcanelli decades before. But it soon becomes apparent that others are hunting this most precious of treasures – for far more evil ends. When the secrets of alchemy hidden within the pages remain impenetrable, Ben teams up with beautiful American scientist Dr Roberta Ryder to crack the code. It seems that everyone – from the Nazis during WW2 and powerful Catholic organisation Gladius Domini – wants to unearth the secrets of immortality. The trail leads Ben and Roberta from Paris to the ancient Cathar strongholds of the Languedoc, where an astonishing secret has lain hidden for centuries …
Yes, yes, but is it any good?
‘Scott Mariani brings it all to the table in this fast-paced thriller that rockets off the first page and never slows down. THE ALCHEMIST’S SECRET is packed with dark intrigue, danger around every corner, bullets flying, sexual tension, and an endless assault of nasty villains bent on stopping ex-SAS Ben Hope from finding the secret to an ancient manuscript. It’s everything a thriller should be and more.’ – Joe Moore, international bestselling co-author of THE GRAIL CONSPIRACY

‘THE ALCHEMIST’S SECRET establishes Scott Mariani as an author to watch.’ – M.J. Rose, international bestselling author of THE VENUS FIX, THE HALO EFFECT and THE REINCARNATIONIST

‘What a ride! THE ALCHEMIST’S SECRET is a non-stop thrill … Scott Mariani is surely the UK’s answer to Steve Berry.’ - Elaine Flinn, author of TAGGED FOR MURDER (Barry Award)

‘An amazing book, by an amazing author. I couldn’t stop reading until I finished the last line.’ - Peter Brendt, author of THE HUNT FOR THE HOLY GRAIL

‘Fans of mystery thrillers like THE DA VINCI CODE will find THE ALCHEMIST’S SECRET an even more breathless and exciting read.’ – In Focus Magazine

‘THE ALCHEMIST’S SECRET is a gripping, fast-moving mystery thriller that has been described as ‘like THE DA VINCI CODE, only better’. Filled with suspense, fascinating historical intrigue, endless twists and turns, vivid characters and stunning locations, this is a book everyone agrees is hard to put down. As well as a thriller roller-coaster ride, it is a highly literate and intelligent novel. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it to readers.’ – Waterstone’s Bookseller
So there you have it – Scott Mariani and the worst-kept SECRET in town. Ain’t magic wonderful?

The Best Things In Life Are Free … Books

Following on from the super soaraway success that was our competition for Declan Hughes’ latest, THE DYING BREED, a couple of weeks ago, the ever-lovely people at Hodder Headline Ireland have been in touch to suggest another – oh yes! – Declan Hughes competition. This time it’s to coincide with the paperback release of THE COLOUR OF BLOOD, and we have three copies to give away. First, the blurb elves:
Emily Howard is nineteen years old, slim and petite with a pale complexion and a red rose tattoo. She is also missing. She disappeared three days ago, and now her father has been sent photographs of her naked body. He is desperate to find her. So he calls Ed Loy, a private investigator who knows the dark streets of Dublin better than most; a man who will find Emily Howard within twenty-four hours. But locating Emily turns out to be only the beginning. Within hours, Emily's ex-boyfriend is found murdered, and Loy finds himself in a race against time to catch a killer – and to unearth the many dark secrets the Howard family have kept long buried.
To be in with a chance of winning a copy, just answer the all-important question:
Declan Hughes’ novels feature the private eye Ed Loy, but is the Ed short for:
(a) Edward;
(b) Mr Ed;
(c) Champion the Wonder Horse?
Answers to dbrodb(at)gmail.com, putting ‘Oi, didn’t yon Brian Moore have book called that?’ in the subject line, and including your address in the body text, before noon on Tuesday, April 1st. Et bon chance, mes amis