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 categoryAnd 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.
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
So there you have it: the Irish crime novel, in a state of exceedingly rude health. Is there anyone I’ve missed? Do tell …