“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.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The ‘Crime Always Pays’ Irish Crime Novel Of The Year Award

It’s getting to that time of the year again, when the ‘Best-of-Year’ selections are made, and Crime Always Pays has never been backward about clambering aboard a bandwagon. Yep, it’s the ‘Crime Always Pays’ Irish Novel of the Year Award, that somewhat-less-than-prestigious gong coveted by the very few and the ludicrously self-deluded.
  The usual hyperbole aside, 2009 was a terrific year for the Irish crime novel, and will, I’m pretty certain, be seen in retrospect as a watershed year in terms of quality. Everyone seemed to up their game, in some cases to a frighteningly good level (if you happen to be an aspiring Irish writer yourself), and the result was some excellent novels across the entire spectrum of the crime writing genre.
  What I’m doing today is mentioning some of said novels, to give you a flavour of what was published this year, and next week I’ll narrow it down to a shortlist, although hopefully you – yes, YOU! – will give me a gentle nudge in the right direction if I’ve left out a novel or two that you think is deserving of nomination. Next week, I’ll start a poll, although it won’t be a push-button poll, because otherwise The Dark Lord, aka John Connolly, will simply muster his massed forces and do a number on it. Instead, I’ll be asking people to state their top three nominations for Best Novel, with those who guess the right order of first, second and third going into the Christmas stocking for a draw. The prize will be a selection of the finest Irish crime novels of the year, and will be announced two weeks before Christmas, so that the package arrives in time for the festivities.
  Now, those novels. It being November, it’s only fair that the competition incorporates novels published from November 2008 to November 2009, which includes the following:
BLOOD RUNS COLD by Alex Barclay – winner of the Irish Book Awards inaugural Crime Fiction category
THE LOVERS by John Connolly – in my opinion, his finest Charlie Parker novel to date
MYSTERY MAN by Bateman – a ‘Richard & Judy’ pick this summer past
THE DAY OF THE JACK RUSSELL by Bateman – a better and funnier read than MYSTERY MAN, is my two cents
FIFTY GRAND by Adrian McKinty – an elegant, mature and (say it ain’t so, Joe!) emotionally literate thriller
DARK TIMES IN THE CITY by Gene Kerrigan – nominated for the CWA Golden Dagger
WINTERLAND by Alan Glynn – a superb conspiracy thriller, both contemporary and prescient in its depiction of modern Ireland
BLEED A RIVER DEEP by Brian McGilloway – Ireland’s Ian Rankin finds his groove
TOWER by Ken Bruen / Reed Farrel Coleman – an emotionally eviscerating tale of claustrophobia, tragic flaws and mutually assured destruction
ALL THE DEAD VOICES by Declan Hughes – the best novel yet from the bridesmaid perennially nominated for the ‘Best Novel’ Edgar
THE TWELVE by Stuart Neville – a raw, angry deconstruction of post-Troubles Northern Ireland
THE INSIDER by Ava McCarthy – high-concept thriller about high-finance shenanigans
  And they’re just the ones I’ve read. Novels I haven’t had the chance to read yet, unfortunately, include FAMILY LIFE by Paul Charles, LOCKDOWN by Sean Black, THE DARK PLACE by Sam Millar, ALL THE COLOURS OF THE TOWN by Liam McIlvanney, THE WAR OF THE BLUE ROSES by Garbhan Downey, THE THIRD PIG DETECTIVE AGENCY by Bob Burke, THE RULE BOOK by Rob Kitchin, and TEARS OF GOD by Christy Kenneally.
  So there you have it: the Irish crime novel, in a state of exceedingly rude health. Is there anyone I’ve missed? Do tell …

12 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Damn it was a good year in Ireland!

bookwitch said...

But I won't fit in your stocking..!

And what about The Gates? Are we discriminating?

Corey Wilde said...

Helluva year! Good luck picking one out of that bunch - I'd be terrified of reader backlash. Or even author backlash.

Declan Burke said...

I have big stockings, Ms Witch.

The Gates - we're discriminating, yes. One of my favourite reads of the year, as it happens, but not a crime novel.

Corey - I've already had three horse's heads arrive by Fed-Ex. The one from McKinty looked like it'd been sawn off a My Little Pony.

Cheers, Dec

John said...

Hmmm, I rather like the idea of being called 'The Dark Lord': If I ever get around to having business cards made, I'll have to get it added to them.
Much as I would like to have earned such a title, I feel that jab was a bit unfair: my other half, anxious not to be shacked up with the Second Sexiest - or, indeed, significantly lower placed - Irish Crime Writer mustered her forces, and I did not object, to my eternal shame.
BUT...
I've been a consistent opponent of 'push the button' Internet votes for crime prizes, which is why I absented myself from last year's crime novel award and, indeed, some non-Irish crime awards, or at least the ones that I've been made aware of. It's for precisely the reason that Ver Burke (a nod to Smash Hits, for you younger folk) points out: it's too easy for an established author to muster his/ her forces and simply use the established fan base to swing the vote. The other option is just to pretend that the whole thing isn't happening, and simply not mention it, but that rather defeats the purpose of the whole affair and would, indeed, require all authors and publishers to sign up to a similar arrangement which, once again, would nullify the whole point of the prize to begin with.
I had offered to help establish some form of peer jury system for the Irish crime awards (itself an imperfect system, given that crime writers can bear grudges with the best of them, but I thought that the addition of a bookseller or two might have neutralized that possibility, or, given that the Irish writers tend to get on pretty well with one another, the possibility of people voting for their mates) but that was declined.
I hasten to add that this is in no way a reflection on the subsequent winner of the award, and these are purely personal views. I just feel that internet votes are only superficially democratic, especially when it comes to a constituency as small as Ireland's. Hence, while I would dearly love to be a Dark Lord, I'm not, really...

seana said...

Methinks the Dark Lord doth protest too much...

Seriously though, the problem from an American perspective is that not all the books have come out over here yet. I was disappointed only today to discover that Winterland is now not coming out here till February. And though I like to think I've read a lot of Irish crime fiction, percentagewise, in the last year or so, it turns out much of it is not new enough to make this list. I've read quite a few of the authors on the list--though I'd like to read a lot more, but I'm behind on titles.

It's an embarrassment of riches, though, no question. Let's all vote for our faves and hope that a rising tide raises all crafts, like they say. I think in this case, it might even be true.

Declan Burke said...

Crumbs! I've only gone and stirred the Dark Lord from his lair ...

Rest assured, sir, that the title derives from the fact that you're the best-selling Irish crime author in the business; I'd be surprised if everyone else's sales combined matched yours.

And I should also say that the voting system will be rigged beyond all hope of repair when 'Beclan Durke' nominates the e-published tome 'Crime Always Pays' as the Best Irish Crime Novel for 2009 ...

Seana - I hear what you're saying. But the point of the exercise isn't really to decide which is the 'best' book of the year (a facile exercise at the best of times) but to give a few molecules of oxygen publicity to some very fine novels.

Cheers, Dec

seana said...

And I hear what you're saying, Beclan, uh, I mean Declan. And I'm really not criticizing as much as just commenting. I'll be casting my votes, biased and noninclusive though they well may be. I mean to say, might be...

Lewis said...

Is this about promoting authors or a genuinely altruistic attempt to generate debate? I am honestly not finger pointing, just interested in how writers use the net to self-promote. More here - http://lewisjpeters.blogspot.com/2009/11/three-camps.html.

Declan Burke said...

Bit of both, really, Lewis ... feel free to jump in.

Cheers, Dec

Michael Malone said...

Here's my tuppenceworth - I also though The Lovers was JC's best to date and would be my no 1. Alan Glynn would be next and Brian McGilloway also getting a mention. Not read - The Tower yet. On my santa list.
BTW - Liam McIlvanney? Is he not one of us Scots? Mind you that didn't stop Aiden McGeady.

M Buckley said...

The current upheavels in the World economy seem to be affecting the publishing world in particular.
Nervousness about conflicting media is debated daily.

Writing is a solitary activity... publishing a very public industry.

Until July, 2009 I did not know that half the population of our jolly little island was writing crime novels and thrillers.

Perhaps letting that other sleepy half of the population, the readers, know more about why this genre is so popular might get us reading more?

Local radio is an obvious forum as well as Vimeo and Youtube.

Reading of excerpts from published work would be an enjoyable way of connecting with the voracious reading public.

M Buckley