“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, December 12, 2008

The Gospel According To Paul. And Philip.

Two relatively new non-fiction crime tomes for your perusal, folks. First up is Paul Williams, crime correspondent with the Sunday World, and scribe of many non-fiction titles on Ireland’s criminal underworld, the latest of which is CRIME WARS. Quoth the blurb elves:
CRIME WARS is a chilling exposé of Ireland’s brutal underworld from the beginning of the new Millennium. In this powerful investigation Williams reveals the stories behind the gangland warfare that erupted, with devastating results, at the start of the 21st Century. He exposes the godfathers and the stories behind the international drug deals, the murders and the mayhem which have all dramatically escalated since the year 2000. Williams reveals the secret worlds of brutal godfathers Martin ‘Marlo’ Hyland and paedophile, drug trafficker Christy Griffin. He tells the chilling inside story of the ‘cursed’ Finglas murder gang and the blood-soaked McCarthy / Dundons in Limerick. CRIME WARS uncovers the background of the horrific Grand Canal double murder – one of the worst atrocities of recent years – and tells the story of Joey the Lip, a desperate young man who became a vital witness in a gruesome execution case. Williams also follows the trail of the Syndicate, a huge international drug trafficking conspiracy organised by Irish criminals, which led to one of Europe’s biggest drug seizures. CRIME WARS is a terrifying account of organised crime in modern Ireland.
  Tasty stuff. And then there’s Philip Bray’s INSIDE MAN (written with Anthony Galvin), which gives a flavour of what it’s like to be the guy who locks up the less-than-salubrious types. To wit:
Philip Bray joined the Irish prison service in 1977, working in Limerick Prison. At the time prisons were places where pillows, blankets and even food were scarce. Most prisoners were illiterate and luxuries such as television and books were unheard of. Philip's story of the changes in the prison service charts Ireland's first female high-security prison in Limerick, a place where wealthy Englishwoman-come-IRA-operative Rose Dugdale’s pregnancy went unnoticed, while Limerick Prison's cells were filled with leading Republican figures and later notorious feuding Limerick families and the ‘Dublin Mafia’, whose imprisonment fuelled a violent protest. Philip offers a bridge between the Ireland of yesterday and the Ireland of today in this intriguing account of life in the prison service in one of the most turbulent eras in recent history.
  So there you have it – Granny’s stocking-fillers all wrapped up in one quick post. No, don’t thank me. It’s all part of the service …

Thursday, December 11, 2008

In Which The CLOTH Maketh The Woman

Had a bit of a strange albeit pleasant dream last night, in which evil genius Critical Mick descended from his eyrie-style lair to whisper in my shell-like, “Here, what do you make of yon Geraldine McMenamin?”
  “Who dat?” says I.
  “Debut author,” says he – not whispering now, because I’m awake, in the dream at least – “who released THE SAME CLOTH just last month.”
  “Ashamed as I am to admit it,” says I, “but I’ve never heard of her.”
  “You have now,” says he. “Oh, and lay off the cheese before you go to bed. Now go back to sleep and remember to write something about Geraldine in the morning. Or else.”
  “Or else what?”
  “Or the next time I come visit, I’ll be going commando in your Snoopy pyjamas.”
  “Fair go,” says I.
  So – Geraldine McMenamin, THE SAME CLOTH. Quoth the blurb elves:
When Helen Rafferty returns to the village of her childhood in rural Ireland, a chain of events is set in motion that leads her on a chase to discover who has kidnapped her only son. Old childhood friends, haunting images of her past, deep family secrets and the stark reality of her present life are all laid bare as she races frantically to catch up with the kidnapper’s demands. Nothing is as it seems as Helen, submerged in self-doubt and deception, struggles to distinguish facts from hearsay, reality from ruse and trickery. As the truth emerges, so also does Helen’s understanding of who she is and the fundamental lies that have shaped her life. The final denouement is sure to startle.
  Yes indeedy, and I’m reliably informed that the denouement before the final one is a cracker too. Geraldine? If you’re out there, drop us a line – we’d love you to do a Q&A. And if that Critical Mick bloke gets in touch with you, tell him I want my Snoopy jammys back. Ta.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Can See Clarely Now

The Ennis Book Club Festival in the County Clare has announced its line-up for 2009, and there’s a smattering of interest for Irish crime fiction fiends. Gerard Donovan (right), author of JULIUS WINSOME will be in attendance, as will Aifric Campbell, whose debut THE SEMANTICS OF MURDER appeared earlier this year. Journalist Kevin Myers will also be participating, and no doubt chatting about covering the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’, as detailed in his WATCHING THE DOOR; and Gerry Stembridge, who wrote and directed the recent Irish movie Alarm, which was a Hitchcockian tale of paranoia, stalking and double-crosses.
  Meanwhile, says the press release, students from Trinity College Dublin will stage an exclusive performance of “The Trial of Oscar Wilde” at Ennis Courthouse. Nice thinking, folks. Round up all the Trinity thesps in the courthouse under some suitably ‘orty’ pretext, and then send ’em all down for 30 years.
  Sadly, the whole tone of the weekend will be let down by the appearance of one Allan Guthrie, who’ll be there to blather on in his deceptively quiet and droll way about gore, torture and murder. There’s always one, isn’t there?
  The balloon goes up in County Clare, March 6th-8th. For all the details, clickety-click here

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

O’Toole’s Of The Trade

Irish journo Michael O’Toole (right) is the crime reporter with the Daily Star, and has just kicked off what could well be a very interesting blog, entitled ‘Crime, Ink: The Blog of an Irish Crime Reporter’. Quoth Michael:
“I’m just trying to show what it is like to be a crime correspondent in Ireland today. I want to talk about crime and what it’s like to report on it. Being a crime reporter today is the most interesting, the most frightening, the most exciting, the most rewarding and most challenging of jobs. Read on and I’ll tell you why ...”
  O’Toole was a co-author, with John Mooney, of BLACK OPERATIONS: THE SECRET WAR AGAINST THE REAL IRA (2005). The Big Question: Will O’Toole do the right thing and get scribbling crime fiction? Only time, that notoriously prevaricating doity rat, will tell …

It’s Millar Time

It’s happening tonight, so apologies for the short notice, but the Irish Writers’ Centre didn’t tell me about it and Critical Mick only got in touch with the heads up last night. Anyhoo, it’s ‘Crime Story Night’ at the IWC, and the press release burbles thusly:
Masters of crime fiction: Cormac Millar (Ireland) (right) and Marek Krajewski ( Poland) discuss the subtleties of genre noir.
  Cormac Millar (Ó Cuilleanáin) - writer, translator and lecturer at the Dep. of Italian at the Trinity College Dublin. Author of critically acclaimed and extremely popular crime stories, such as An Irish Solution and The Grounds. he is currently working on another Dublin-based crime story.
  Marek Krajewski - the most popular contemporary Polish crime story writer and one of the most frequently published contemporary Polish writers in the UK; lecturer at the Dep. of Classical Studies at the Wrocław University; awarded various prestigious literary prizes in Poland. His books have been translated into 11 languages.
  It all kicks off at The Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1 at 7pm, and admission is free to all. Yours truly is otherwise engaged, but if anyone gets along, be sure to let me know how it went …

Monday, December 8, 2008

On Bludgeoning Puppies: Yep, It’s The John Banville Interview

Our good friend Peter Murphy posts a quite superb interview with John Banville (right) on his Blog of Revelations (as far as I know, it’s also carried in the current issue of Hot Press magazine), which intros thusly:
Banville the Booker Winner. Banville the Book Reviewer. Banville the master craftsman who fashions beautifully written novels like MEFISTO, THE BOOK OF EVIDENCE and THE SEA, mapping the inner psyches of his protagonists with forensic precision while co-opting neo-classical themes and allusions.
  Banville the cold Nabokovian prose sculptor who couldn’t make us care about his characters if he bludgeoned their puppies to death before our eyes. Banville the pariah of the chattering literati who accuse him of aloofness and arrogance. Banville the highbrow stylist slumming it in the noir genre under the non de plume Benjamin Black to the derision of an Irish crime-writing contingent who maintain he couldn’t plot his way out of a paper bag.
  Banville the hatchet-jobber who’s driven his pen into the hearts of everyone from Nadine Gordimer to Ian McEwan (whose SATURDAY he termed a “dismayingly bad book”). Banville the ungracious victor, who, after scooping the Man Booker with THE SEA in 2005, sniffed something about being glad that the prize went to a work of art for a change …
  Trust me, it’s a terrific piece, and well worth your time, and especially if you think Banville = Blandville …

LaBeouf: No Beef

Good news and bad news for Alan Glynn, people. The bad news is that Shia LaBeouf has had to pull out of the movie version of THE DARK FIELDS. The good news is that Glynn is on the Fox News radar. To wit:
LaBeouf was supposed to star in director Neal Burger’s new feature, “Dark Fields”. Burger, the man behind “The Illusionist” and “The Lucky Ones”, was supposed to start shooting this fall.
  But the shoot was postponed because LaBeouf had smashed his hand in a car accident last July. He had hand surgery, according to reports, and the injury was worked into “Transformers 2”, which was held up for a month while LaBeouf recuperated.
  Burger had signed him for “Dark Fields”, in which the 21-year-old star of “Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” was supposed to play a man who stumbles on a one of a kind smart pill. The screenplay, by Leslie Dixon, is based on a novel by Alan Glynn.
  But now I’m told that LaBeouf has withdrawn completely, and the search is on for a new leading man. “Shia’s hand is totally shattered, it’s much worse than anyone thought,” says a source, indicating the area around the thumb needs more surgery.
  So stay tuned, as all the young actors in Hollywood line up to take Shia’s place.
  Meanwhile, and staying with Alan Glynn-related malarkey, I’m about halfway through his second novel, WINTERLAND, and it’s living up to all the hup-yas so far