“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.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: CHASIN’ THE WIND by Michael Haskins

For anyone who has visited Key West, or any Caribbean island, the first thing they notice is a phenomenon known as ‘island time’. Things travel at their own pace. If a beer takes 10 minutes to get to you, so be it. If you have to wait in line 15 minutes while the clerk and a shopper chat, life goes on. What visitors don’t realize is that ‘island time’ is just one outward sign of an entire lifestyle which is totally foreign to most Americans and Europeans. While non-islanders see it as rudeness and slothfulness, locals wonder what all the rush and demands are.
  Michael Haskins gives us a glimpse of ‘island time’ and island life in his debut novel, CHASIN’ THE WIND, which is set in and around Key West’s ‘Old Town’. With ‘Mad Mick’ Murphy, a freelance journalist, as our tour guide, we are exposed to the sultry lazy days and the laid-back bar hopping island nights that most of us secretly envy. One would almost expect Hemingway to walk through the door and start an argument at the bar.
  Mick, who has a supposedly violent past, has spent most of his career writing about Central and South American foreign affairs. He has made Key West his hermitage from the ghosts of his former life in California when he is suddenly confronted with violence and the need for revenge upon discovering the murder of one of his sailing buddies. Haskins takes us on a wild-wind journey of inept local police, mysterious agents from competing ‘agencies’, Cuban espionage and soulless murderers. The story rushes you along the surface so fast you think you are sailing on the Gulf Stream.
  The downside to this is that, because CHASIN’ THE WIND is a thriller, Haskins gives the novel the feeling of a New York minute. Mick Murphy is someone you want to get to know, someone you want to relate with; however, we are never really given the chance.
  The end of CHASIN’ THE WIND has sequel stamped all over it, and I really hope that that is true. Michael Haskins has the wonderful ability to evoke the sights and smells of the island out of thin air, and it doesn’t hurt that he has Mick drinking Jamesons like most of us drink water. Haskins just needs to give us the same feeling for his characters, and to let the ‘Mad Mick’ Murphy series find some island time, so we can get to know the characters, their interconnections, and the plots better. – Josh Schrank

Thursday, May 29, 2008

And Now A Word From Our Sponsors

As some of you already know, Lily May Burke (right) was born on March 26th, just over nine weeks ago. As those of you with kids will already appreciate, Lily’s birth was the most profound event of my life by a distance that should really be measured in light years, but even before she was born I had come to realise that I would resent the time I spent writing for taking me away from the new baby.
  Because of that I made sure I finished the sequel to THE BIG O, which isn’t due until October, by mid-February. Once that was done I swore that I wouldn’t write again for six months after the baby was born. I lasted almost three weeks after Lily was born.
  I persuaded myself that redrafting doesn’t constitute real writing, even though it’s the part I enjoy the most, so I got out a story I wrote about five years ago and started messing around with it. The first section comes below.
  Why am I posting it on a blog? Well, because I can. And because I’m interested to see what kind of reaction this kind of post might generate, as well as the more specific kind of feedback that may or may not come via the comment box or email. Any and all bouquets, brickbats, thoughts and impressions welcome.
  The plan is to post a new section once a week. With a fair wind and enough interest, I should have the entire novel posted up on the blog within three months.
  Sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin …

A GONZO NOIR / Declan Burke
I: Winter

‘You don’t remember me,’ he says.
  I allow that I don’t. But then I haven’t had my coffee yet, or even a smoke.
  This is in the back garden early on a Tuesday morning in late spring out on the decking overlooking the pond. The sun coming up, the day already warm.
  ‘It’s probably the eye-patch,’ he says. ‘I wasn’t blond then, either.’ He has a platinum blond crew-cut, Newman-blue eyes and a square jaw. I guess him to be mid-thirties. ‘And I was about three inches shorter.
  ‘A man needs some stature,’ he says.


I go inside and draw him a cup of coffee wondering what he’s doing in my back garden before I’ve even had my first cigarette. Back out on the decking I say, ‘I give up. Who are you?’
  ‘Karlsson,’ he says.
  ‘Should I know you?’ I say, blowing on my coffee. ‘Have we met?’
  ‘In a manner of speaking.’
  ‘I don’t follow.’
  ‘You remember Karlsson, right? The porter.’
  ‘The hospital porter?’
  ‘Him, yeah.’
  I reach for the smokes and get one lit. Sip some coffee and wait for a tic or flinch to give him away. He only stares.
  ‘Okay,’ I say, ‘I’ll play along. You’re Karlsson. So what can I do for you?’
  ‘You can start by telling me what happened.’
  ‘With you? Nothing.’ I explain that first drafts get written and printed out and then they go on the shelf for at least six months. No exceptions.
  ‘Fair go,’ he says. ‘But it’s been nearly five years now. I mean, I was 28 when you wrote that draft. And I know you didn’t stop writing. I saw that new one, The Big O, it arrived on the shelf about two years ago.’
  ‘Things just went in a different direction, man. No offence.’
  ‘I never thought you did it deliberately,’ he says. ‘But you should know, I’m stuck in limbo here.
  ‘Publish or be damned,’ he says.


Karlsson was a hospital porter who assisted old people who wanted to die. His girlfriend found out. Then the cops got involved because the girlfriend contacted them anonymously before confronting Karlsson, only the cops wound up more concerned about where the girlfriend, Cassie, had gone.
  ‘If you want the truth of it,’ I say, ‘I’m not really sure I ever intended that one to see the light of day. It was just a bunch of stuff I needed to write at the time, get out onto the page. These days I write comedy. It’s easier, for one. And more fun. Life is shitty enough for people without them spending their precious reading time on morbid stuff.’
  ‘Woah,’ he says. ‘Are you telling me you never even sent it away?’
  ‘I didn’t just bury it.’ I’m feeling faintly, ridiculously, defensive. ‘I gave it to my agent.’
  ‘And what did he say?’
  ‘He said he’d never read anything like it before. He reckoned he had to stop taking notes about halfway in and just read it through. I think the pervy stuff had him a bit freaked.’
  ‘That’s good, right?’
  ‘Not in today’s market. Freaking your agent isn’t cool anymore.’
  ‘And he never read it again?’
  ‘He was about to but I stopped him. I was showing him The Big O that day.’
  ‘And he liked that better.’
  ‘I think he’d have liked the Taiwan phonebook better.’


We sit in silence while he digests that. The sun clears the Wicklow Hills to the south and the garden brightens up. Clematis buds starting to show, some pink apple blossom, snowdrops and daffodils nodding on the faint breeze. Now and again a quick flash of orange in the pond, the pair of golden carp, Jaws and Moby Dick. The little fountain pootling away to itself like a happy baby.
  The heartburn is bad this morning, a Jameson hangover heartburn. I go inside and take a slug of Gaviscon, get the fish food. ‘Listen,’ I say while I feed the carp, ‘that’s tough about the whole limbo thing. But right now I’m working on something else and I’m already half-an-hour into my writing time, so ––’
  ‘What happens me?’ he says. The cigarette he filched burns down between his fingers.
  ‘I’ve no idea.’
  ‘You can’t leave me stuck here.’
  ‘I hear you. But my problem is that these days I only get so much time to write. I’m married now, and we have a little baby. She’s called Lily.’
  He congratulates me, grudging it.
  ‘The point I’m making is, I can’t afford to spend any time on anything that isn’t at least potentially commercial. Or, to be perfectly frank, anything I don’t enjoy doing. That dark shit’s hard work. And if I don’t like reading back ––’
  ‘If it’s dark,’ he says, ‘whose fault is that?’
  ‘Mine, sure. But ––’
  ‘But schmut. If you made it dark you can make it funny. Just go back over it.’
  ‘Make euthanasia funny?’
  ‘Just listen to me a minute,’ he says. ‘Can you sit down and just listen? You owe me that much, at least.’
  He’s right. I put the tin of fish-food on the table and sit down, spark another smoke.
  ‘See,’ he says after a moment or two, ‘I’m just not that kind of guy. The Karlsson guy, I mean. I even changed my name when I dyed my hair. I’m called Billy now.’
  ‘Billy.’
  ‘I’m aiming to normalise things all round.’
  ‘Then the eye-patch is probably too much.’
  ‘That was just to get your attention.’ He peels off the patch. There’s an empty socket underneath. He pats the pockets of his zip-up sweater and comes up with a pair of tinted shades, slips them on.
  ‘What happened your eye?’
  ‘You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Anyway, this Karlsson guy – I’m not him. Not anymore. And I don’t think I ever was. I mean, I liked Cassie. Liked her a lot. And even if I didn’t I wouldn’t just kill her to get off a euthanasia rap. I’d have done a flit. The old folks, they were one thing, they wanted to die and I was helping them out. But Cassie, no way.’
  ‘I never actually said you killed her.’
  ‘No, but you left it hanging.’
  ‘As far as I can remember,’ I say, ‘I gave you a happy ending. You got away with it, right? The cop investigating, he turned out insane, had all these theories about population control. A big fan of the Chinese, if memory serves.’
  ‘Even I didn’t believe that,’ he says. ‘That ending was a mess.’
  I allow that it was.
  ‘You can do better than that,’ he says.
  ‘Not with you I can’t.’
  ‘I’m not the problem, man. The story’s the problem.’
  ‘The story’s what it is,’ I say. ‘And it’s told now.’
  ‘I didn’t hear any fat ladies singing,’ he says.


I stub out the cigarette. ‘Listen, Karlsson, I have to ––’
  ‘Billy.’
  ‘Billy, yeah. Listen, Billy, I have to go. I need to be at work at ten-thirty and I only get two hours a day to write. So …’
  ‘The story was too freaky,’ he says. He’s holding up a hand to delay me. ‘Too out there but not big enough. Plus you had me down as a total dingbat. And these are things that can be changed.’
  ‘I really don’t know if they can.’
  ‘Tell me this,’ he says. ‘How long have you spent thinking about me in the last five years?’
  ‘I’ve thought about you, sure. And I wish ––’
  ‘I think I’ve got a way to make it bigger. Although you’d have to be more honest about me,’ he says. ‘If it was to work, I’d have to be more real. More me, y’know?’
  ‘Right now you’re sitting on the deck in my backyard smoking my cigarettes. I don’t know if I could handle you getting any more real.’
  ‘That’s because I’m Billy now. Karlsson never showed up here, did he?’
  ‘Funnily enough, he never did.’
  ‘Just as well,’ he says. ‘He’d probably have kidnapped little Lily and tortured her until you’d rewritten the story the way he wanted it.’
  ‘Y’know, I think Karlsson liked who he was. I don’t think he’d have had any issues with what happened to Cassie.’
  ‘Like that Ripley guy, right? A sociopath.’ He shrugs. ‘Who wants to live like that?’ He pierces me with the Newman-blue eyes. ‘You think I wouldn’t like a little Lily to play with?’
  ‘Do you?’
  ‘I don’t know. I’m not feeling it, if that’s what you’re asking. But they say men don’t become fathers until their baby is born.’
  ‘That was true for me, yeah.’
  He nods. ‘Look, all I’m asking for is one more go, see if I can’t make it out this time.’
  ‘Out of this limbo.’
  ‘Sure. Maybe if I was to get some kind of written permission from the old folks, so I’d have something to show Cassie when she found out about the euthanasia. That could help.’
  ‘It’d help you and Cassie, maybe. But it wouldn’t do much for the conflict in the story.’
  ‘That’s the other thing,’ he says. ‘I think you need a different kind of conflict. I mean, a hospital porter bumping off old people? You can get that stuff in the newspapers. Why would anyone want to read it in a book?’
  ‘I guess it’d depend on how interesting the killer is.’
  ‘Between you and me, you’re no Patricia Highsmith.’
 I allow that I’m not.
  ‘If you want my opinion,’ he says, ‘the conflicts that work best are between the reader and a character they like who’s doing stuff they wouldn’t generally tolerate. Your mistake was to make Karlsson a total wack-job. No one who wasn’t a complete fruit could like him.’
  ‘Okay, so we make you likeable. What then?’
  ‘We blow up the hospital.’

  © Declan Burke, 2008

Book Trailers – Yea Or Nay?

Two very handsome book trailers came our way this week, folks, the first courtesy of honorary Irish crime writer Tony Black, whose PAYING FOR IT hits a shelf near you on July 17. Roll it there, Collette …


Then we stumbled across a trailer for the American edition of Tana French’s IN THE WOODS, which is ever-so-suitably spooky. Collette? In your own time, ma’am …


What we’re wondering, though, especially since we’re thinking of generating a book trailer of our own to mark the US publication of our humble offering THE BIG O, is whether book trailers are doing what it says on their celluloid tins. Yes, they’re all zeitgeisty and whatnot in terms of viral marketing, but does anyone really watch them? Has any book trailer blown YOU away? We were very taken with John McFetridge’s trailer for EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE, certainly …


… but has anyone ever rushed out to buy a book on the basis of its trailer? Are book trailers delivering where it matters? Or are they the mini-cinematic equivalent of bookmarks? Talk to us, people …

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 2,019: Peter Clenott

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 don’t think anybody has been able to top Sherlock Holmes, as much as they may have tried. Holmes set the standard. He is a complex individual who has left enough of himself a mystery to allow generations after his demise to try to fill in the blanks.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
I read mostly historical fiction so that the characters, typically, are not fictional but historical figures brought to life in works of fiction. For fictional characters, I would go with Holmes, or Jason Bourne from Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series. How about James Bond? He gets the women, wine, and all those fancy gimmicks.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
For guilty pleasures I don’t read so much as I look. Oh, wait, this is a public forum. Guilty pleasures? Eclectic stuff. Ludlum, Stephen King, Isaac Asimov. I enjoyed Colleen McCullough’s series on ancient Rome.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Of course it’s always satisfying to complete a novel that you’ve worked on for many months, researched, written, rewritten. Particularly once you have received feedback that says your work is good. Beyond that, the most satisfying moment I ever had, and this covers several decades of writing, was when the publisher from Kunati Books emailed me on Thursday morning August 8, 2007 and said he wanted to discuss a contract with me. Hard to beat that.
The best Irish crime novel is…?
Sorry, I don’t think I’ve read one.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
There are a number of Boston Irish crime novels. South Boston is a well-known Irish enclave in the city and has produced such notorious hoodlums as Whitey Bulger, who is still on the lam after being tipped off by his FBI handler. Whitey’s brother was president of the state senate. Dennis Lehane has written several Southie-based thrillers that have been turned into movies including the highly received MYSTIC RIVER.
Worst/best thing about being a writer?
I enjoy creating plot and characters, disappearing into their world much as an actor would. For me, writing goes beyond mere entertainment. I also like to provoke. My themes have dealt with faith versus reason, war, politics. It is very satisfying to get strong responses from readers, particularly those you’re trying to generate. Worst thing? Rejection.
The pitch for your next book is …
THEY WERE CALLED TO DUTY : 64,000,000 men and women served their countries in the war to end all wars, World War 1. Today only 13 survive. Capt. Carthage Mulkern, a decorated veteran of the Iraqi war, is assigned the duty of interviewing the last survivors, ancient men whose stories of war and remembrance intertwine with her own as she hunts for her lover lost in the chaos of Iraq.
Who are you reading now?
I am reading a non-fiction book called CHIEF OF CONGO STATION by Larry Devlin who was with the CIA when the Congo gained its independence from Belgium in 1960. The research is for a novel I am currently writing called ALBERTVILLE.
God appears and says you can only write OR read? Which is it to be?
Reading is sheer pleasure. With writing you can communicate with the world and make change. Since the world clearly needs change, I like the idea that my writing might be able to promote discussion and debate and, therefore, positive change in the world. Then I can always read what I wrote.
The three best words to describe your writing are…?
Provocative, absorbing, enjoyable.

Peter Clenott’s novel HUNTING THE KING is published by Kunati

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

“Another French Fancy, Vicar?”

The build-up to the eagerly awaited publication to Tana French’s sequel to IN THE WOODS, THE LIKENESS, continues apace, with Publishers Weekly conducting a small but perfectly formed interview with Tana, a sample of which runneth thusly:
Q: THE LIKENESS has elements of a locked room mystery, with all the characters, including the potential killer, living under the same roof. Was this a challenge?
A: “Absolutely. I love the conventions of the mystery genre, the fact that you start out with such tight parameters: somebody gets killed and somebody finds out whodunit. I like twisting and breaking these parameters. One of my twists is that the main characters like being in their “locked room,” they like being in their own world. So the question becomes, is the danger from outside or from inside?”
Erm, we give up. But is it possible that the danger is neither outside nor inside, but – gasp! – somewhere in between? That’s right, folks – it’s a new sub-sub-sub-genre, the Killer Door Mystery! Did we mention we’re giving these ideas away for free?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: Gone Baby Gone

Called in by the family of a missing girl to augment the official police investigation, Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) use their experience of growing up in the area of Boston where Angela McCready (Madeline O’Brien) went missing to winkle out some leads. Soon they’re working as equals with the detectives assigned to the case by Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman), but when one of those detectives is a self-confessed by-any-means-necessary rule-breaker like Detective Remy Bressant (Ed Harris), that’s not necessarily a cause for celebration. Drawn deeper and deeper into a web of drug-dealing, abduction and double-cross, at the heart of which lies the missing girl’s mother, Helene (Amy Ryan), Patrick and Angie find themselves compromised at every turn. Postponed on this side of the pond from its original release schedule last year as a result of the disappearance of Madeline McCann, Gone Baby Gone (based on the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane) is a bleak and hard-hitting tale of moral corruption on the mean streets of Boston. Strong performances from an excellent cast give the story a gritty authenticity that is at times almost too real to bear, particularly in terms of the police department’s pessimistic outlook on the chances of finding young Angela. Casey Affleck, building on his superb turn in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, is the star of the show, although Harris – who looks eerily like Dennis Hopper – matches him with a chilling portrayal of slow-burning intensity. Ben Affleck, who also co-adapted the novel, directs with no little style in his debut at the helm, slicing out the fat and leaving us with a lean, taut tale. By the finale the character of Patrick Kenzie is a little too squeaky-clean to ring entirely true, but this is a compelling and disturbing movie nonetheless. **** - Declan Burke

This review first appeared in TV Now! magazine

Better Red Than Dead

Florida Keys.com hosts a rather nice piece on Key West writers, ‘Key West by the book’, during the course of which they profile the Florida wing of the Irish crime writers diaspora, Michael Haskins. Quoth Carol Shaughnessy:
Haskins’ crime thriller CHASIN’ THE WIND, starring journalist Liam Michael ‘Mad Mick’ Murphy, was published in March 2008 and has earned excellent reviews. It’s a spicy conch chowder flavoured with dashes of small-town politics, Cuban intrigue, neurotic federales and island attitude.
  “I created Mick Murphy on a jogging track to keep my mind off my sore legs and burning lungs,” said Haskins. “I gave him my final two vices – Irish whiskey and cigars –and I gave him red hair because I wanted him to be Irish, and nothing says Irish like red hair.”
Erm, Michael? Try red lemonade (right). Quoth the Wiki elves:
“Red lemonade is one of the most popular mixers used with spirits in Ireland, particularly whiskey, including Paddy, Jameson and Southern Comfort … Popular urban myths include: Red lemonade only exists in Ireland as the chemical used to make it red is banned elsewhere in the world. The contention of the myth is that the chemical in it is carcinogenic and banned in all other EU countries.”
So there you have it. Michael? Were Liam Murphy truly ‘mad’, he’d be drinking his Jameson with an allegedly carcinogenic chaser …

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Murder Of Crowleys?

It’s been a good year for Catherine O’Flynn, folks. Not only did she scoop the Costa Award for best debut novel, she also won the Waterstone’s Newcomer of the Year in the Nibbies. Now comes the news that … oh, let’s allow the Irish Film and Television Network wallahs to tell it, shall we?
BAFTA and IFTA winning Irish director John Crowley (Boy A, Intermission) is attached to direct the screen adaptation of Catherine O’Flynn’s award winning novel WHAT WAS LOST. WHAT WAS LOST is the debut novel for Catherine O’Flynn. Published in January 2007, the book was longlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize for Fiction and the Orange Prize for Fiction and won the prestigious First Novel prize at the Costa Book Awards in January 2008. The story centres upon the disappearance of a young girl in 1984 and the people who continue the search for her twenty years later. The Heyday Films / Film Four co-production is in the early stages of development with ‘Harry Potter’ producer David Heyman and co-producer Rosie Alison (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) behind optioning the project. A screenwriter is now being sought to adapt the story for the big screen.
Insert your own religious-themed punchline here, incorporating some or all of the phrases ‘WHAT WAS LOST now is found’, ‘the LOST shall be the first’, and ‘LOST soul redeemed’ …

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “The re-telling of Turnstile’s story and a detailed historical account of the mutiny are based on various resources, including original transcripts of what happened en route to the mutiny … With its effective combination of drama and history, this is a real page turner,” says Laura Wurzal at the Sunday Sun of John Boyne’s MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY. Daragh Reddin at The Metro (no link) is equally impressed: “A wonderfully ingenious and witty narrator – think Holden Caulfield crossed with Vernon God Little. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY is also a feat of remarkable research, but Boyne wears his learning lightly and fashions an old-school picaresque yarn rich in memorable, full-bodied prose.” Nice … They’re coming in thick and fast now for John Connolly’s latest, THE REAPERS: “Connolly’s triumphant prose and unerring rendering of his tortured characters mesmerize and chill. He creates a world where everyone is corrupt, murderers go unpunished, but betrayals are always avenged. Yet another masterpiece from a proven talent, THE REAPERS will terrify and transfix,” says Marshal Zeringue at New Reads. Via Poisoned Fiction comes the Publishers Weekly verdict: “Series fans may initially be disappointed to see Parker on the sidelines, but Connolly’s rich prose and compelling plot more than compensate.” And at the same link you’ll find the Booklist hup-ya: “Connolly has crafted one of the most darkly intriguing books this reviewer has encountered in more than three decades of reading crime fiction ... To call this a page-turner is to damn it with faint praise. Veteran crime fans will want to savour every note-perfect word.” Meanwhile, over at the Irish Times (no link), Declan Hughes was very impressed indeed: “Last year’s THE UNQUIET held the disparate elements of Connolly’s fictional universe in a new balance while sacrificing none of the previous intensity: confident, stylish and moving, it was by some distance the best of the Parker series. That sense of greater harmony and assuredness carries through to THE REAPERS, a supernatural western set among an elite cadre of samurai-style contract killers and the most purely entertaining novel Connolly has written.” Lovely … Lindsay Jones at the Ilford Recorder likes Cora Harrison’s latest, to wit: “MICHAELMAS TRIBUTE is the second novel to feature 16th century Brehon (judge) and sleuth, Mara … Harrison uses her story to explain the early Irish legal system and to show us what life was like in rural Ireland while a young Henry VIII was on the throne in England … Mara is feisty, charming and a thoroughly likeable female lead.” Over at Crime Scene Norn Iron, Gerard Brennan gets his jollies from Adrian McKinty’s latest, THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD: “I’m impressed by McKinty’s skill at painting his surroundings vividly by showing rather than info-dumping … Forsythe’s love / hate relationship with Belfast is made all the more real, I suspect, by the fact that McKinty has not lost touch with his Northern Irish roots … And so this bastard child of Tony Soprano morality and James Joyce literacy ends the Michael Forsythe trilogy.” A belated big-up for Derek Landy’s SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT: “Full of page-turning adventure, scary magical duels, explosions, chases, mysterious puzzles, and plenty of suspenseful sneaking around; humorous dialogue keeps the story light. Intense-but-not-gory action will keep readers engaged and wanting more,” reckons Aarenex at his / her Live Journal … A couple now for Declan Hughes: “Although I enjoyed THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD, THE COLOUR OF BLOOD is a much more confident piece of work. Hughes now seems to have a steady control of the genre and, although the bloodbath at the end of the novel, stretches credulity a little, this really kept me reading with its fast-paced narrative and gritty realism,” is the verdict at Profmike’s Weblog. Meanwhile, Peter Rozovsky has his three cents about THE DYING BREED in the Philly Inquirer: “Like others in Ireland’s current crop of brilliant crime writers, [Hughes] is skeptical about the country’s recent economic boom. More than most, however, he unfolds his dramas against a background of the earlier, pre-Celtic-Tiger, pre-easier-availability-of-guns Ireland. Ken Bruen writes about wrecked souls making their way through a country racked and wrecked by change. Hughes’ Ireland, though also contemporary, is more redolent of the ancient truths: church, intimate violence and, above all, family or, as his characters most often put it, blood.” Robert at Sci-Fi London likes DB Shan’s latest: “PROCESSION OF THE DEAD is a short, sharp read, well paced and always interesting enough to keep you turning the page. The fantasy elements arising from the Incan references […] are well realised and, refreshingly, retain their mystery until the very end.” A couple now for Tana French’s long-awaited sequel to IN THE WOODS, THE LIKENESS: “This one was even better than IN THE WOODS, I think. It was certainly creepier, with the whole doppleganger aspect … And it was so atmospheric, it felt dark and broody. I truly hope to see more of Cassie,” says the Dread Pirate at Ye Cap’n’s Logge Booke. Over at Answer Girl, the verdict is even more impressive: “Deeply emotional, harrowing and sad, THE LIKENESS begs comparison with Donna Tartt’s THE SECRET HISTORY and Kevin Wignall’s AMONG THE DEAD, but establishes French firmly as a serious writer doing lasting work.” Finally, a trio for Andrew Taylor’s BLEEDING HEART SQUARE: “Andrew Taylor is the modern master of a very Dickensian underworld: that of the seedy, the shifty, the down-at-heel who cling to shreds of social acceptability; people he regards with a sharply observant pity. This book cannot be confined within the genre of historical crime fiction. It is a rich novel with a serious political dimension, evoking scenes which, though chronologically recent, seem to belong to a vanished world … A sense of brooding evil pervades the complex plot, [which is] handled with great assurance,” says Jane Jakeman at The Independent. Over at The Guardian, Laura Wilson agrees: “In a depiction of lonely, unfulfilled lives worthy of Patrick Hamilton, Taylor fuels his story with quiet desperation - for love, work, money or simply booze - to create a moving, atmospheric and suspenseful tale of true pathos.” And Susanna Yager at The Sunday Telegraph concurs too: “BLEEDING HEART SQUARE, Andrew Taylor’s new thriller set in the 1930s, is a very cleverly constructed book, its deceptively gentle pace gradually drawing you into a story of quiet menace … The period atmosphere, as in all Taylor’s work, is flawless. He simply gets better and better.” Curses! Apparently yon Taylor is a handsome cove too. Is there no end to his torturing of our mediocre souls?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Sunday Roast

It’s Sunday and it’s the proverbial rack of lamb, albeit of the cold and sweet variety. Yep, it’s our favourite ice cream bloggers, Sean and Kieran Murphy of Dingle, who are celebrating the publication of their tome THE BOOK OF SWEET THINGS through the Mercier Press. Apparently their recipe for brown bread ice cream is only da bomb … Back to more conventional crime fiction-related matters, and John McFetridge submits his DIRTY SWEET to Marshall Zeringue’s Page 69 test, to wit: “Page 69 is the end of a scene. Boris, the driver of the getaway car, is picking up his Uncle Khozha (the shooter he brought in) at a hotel to take him to the airport to get him on a plane back to New York. But Khozha has been spending time with the strippers from the club Boris owns and doesn’t want to go so fast. Now Khozha decides he’s going to have lunch with his old friend, Boris’s mother …” Hmmm, colour us intrigued … A quick jaunt now across the Atlantic to Gerard Brennan’s Crime Scene Norn Iron, where, amid a veritable cornucopia of crime fiction matters, Gerard features interviews with Ian Sansom and some chancing wastrel called Declan Burke … Staying with Norn Iron crime, and GALLOWS LANE scribe Brian McGilloway has one of those fancy-pants podcast malarkey yokes going over at the Pan Macmillan interweb thingy. And while we’re on the McGilloway-shaped subject, Detectives Beyond Borders has been perusing GALLOWS LANE … The Irish World hosts an interview with Paul Charles, he of THE DUST OF DEATH and the Camden Town-based Christy Kennedy series: ‘It was around this time that Detective Christy Kennedy was born, an Irishman who takes his name from two men – Christy Moore and JFK. “It created a very strong, honest-sounding name, I thought.”’ … A couple of snippets on Adrian McKinty – the London Review of Books is hosting a competition to see who can spot the most literary references in his new offering, THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD, while Serpent’s Tail give a heads up about the launch of said tome at No Alibis of Belfast on June 11 … Following on from last week’s win in the Bisto-sponsored Children’s Books Ireland Bisto-flavoured bunfight for THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY, Siobhan Dowd’s BOG CHILD has been longlisted for The Guardian’s 2008 children’s fiction prize … Finally, a quick reminder that Ken Bruen’s SANCTUARY, the latest Jack Taylor tayl – sorry, tale – is due on a shelf near you next week. For the skinniest of skinnies, jump on over here