“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, March 21, 2009

The Derry Heir

Yet more Brian McGilloway-related shenanigans, this time over at Suite 101, where they grill Derry’s heir to James Lee Burke to celebrate the upcoming launch of BLEED A RIVER DEEP. Asked about why his series protag, DI Devlin, is such a nice bloke, Brian basically says that his novels are heavily autobiographical, and that if anyone suggests he’s not the mildest-mannered crime writer on the block, he’ll shiv the mo-fo where the cut won’t heal. To wit:
“I’m a crime fan and understand why so many literary detectives are divorced, heavy-drinking mavericks. But I liked the idea of Devlin being different, happily married, not a drinker and that he would try to do his job properly. Also, at the time I wrote it, my wife was heavily pregnant with our first child. I was trying to balance work and a young family and thought it would be interesting to have Devlin doing the same. His mission is as a policeman making his immediate area safe for his own family.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hello GOOD-BYE

As all three regular readers will know, I run a regular Q&A for crime writers here on CAP, and the first question is: ‘What crime novel would you most like to have written?’ The answers are as varied as you might expect, but the name that appears time and again is Raymond Chandler.
  We all have our own favourites, of course, and Chandler is mine, and while THE LONG GOOD-BYE isn’t the best of his novels, it’s the one I like most, perhaps for its quasi-autobiographical hinterland. Anyhoos, the good news – for me – was that a box of books arrived from Hamish Hamilton this week, containing re-issues of THE BIG SLEEP, FAREWELL, MY LOVELY, THE LITTLE SISTER, THE LADY IN THE LAKE and THE LONG GOOD-BYE. No ordinary re-issues, either – hardbacks, sans dust-jackets, of the original first edition Chandlers (although I’m reliably informed by the ever-helpful Jayde Lynch at Penguin that the FAREWELL, MY LOVELY isn’t actually a first edition cover). It’s a beautiful collection, sumptuously presented, and it fair made my week – and they didn’t even know it’ll be my birthday on Monday. Nice.
  Anyway, the quintet is released on March 26th, and you should be able to find all the details here at Hamish Hamilton. If there’s a Chandler fan in your vicinity, you know what to do … Better still, if you know of any unfortunate who has yet to read him, now is the time to do the right thing.
  Over to you folks – your favourite Chandler novel, and why …

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Best Things In Life Are Free … Books

Another week, another freebie giveaway, and this week the generous souls are Hachette Books Ireland, offering three signed copies of Twenty Major’s sophomore novel, ABSINTHE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER. First, the blurb elves:
It’s just days after the Folkapalooza concert and having saved the world, Twenty Major is looking forward to some R&R&G (Rest & Relaxation & Guinness) - but little does he know that someone from his murky past is about to surface ... Notorious Dublin gangster Tony Furriskey is calling in his marker. A while ago, he helped Twenty and Jimmy the Bollix out of a hole and the time has come for them to repay the favour ... or end up swimming with the Dublin Bay prawns. Twenty and Jimmy must follow a young man and his pals to Barcelona, where the stag weekend of Tony’s future son-in-law is taking place. Their job is to infiltrate the party and make sure, one way or another, that the wedding doesn’t happen ... In the city of Gaudi and Picasso, Twenty, Jimmy, Stinking Pete and Dirty Dave are more gaudy and pick-arse as they try to enjoy the cheap mojitos and Mediterranean sun, while making sure the job gets done. But Twenty’s Barcelona past is about to catch up with him.
  Nice. To be in with a chance of winning one of these signed copies, just answer the following question.
Was Twenty Major’s debut novel called …?
(a) THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX PARK;
(b) BY THE TIME I GET TO PHOENIX PARK;
(c) THE PHOENIX HAS LANDED IN THE PHOENIX PARK;
(d) THE CORRECT PLURAL OF ALBATROSS IS ‘ALBATROSSI’, NOT ‘ALBATROSSES’.
  Answers via the comment box, leaving a contact email address (using (at) rather than @ to confuse the spam munchkins), before noon on Monday, March 23rd. Et bon chance, mes amis

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

“I’ve Been Writing In My Car / It’s Not Quite A Jaguar …”

Actually, for all I know Ava McCarthy does drive a Jag. That’d certainly make the whole writing-in-the-car malarkey a little more comfortable. To wit:
Ava’s unorthodox approach to writing knocks JK Rowling’s tale of writing her first novel in a café into a cocked hat: “I was determined not to impact on family life, so I used to get up really early in the morning, drive into work and sit outside my office for two hours in the car with the laptop on my knees and the heater blowing.
  “The car is a super place to work. There’s no fridge, no kettle, no housework ... you just focus. For book two, I’ve been trying to work in the house, but I find myself being drawn to the car. The neighbours think I’m mad.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here ...
  Over to you, folks. Where’s the barmiest place you’ve ever written?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Robert Wilson

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?

THE LONG GOODBYE by Raymond Chandler.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Harry Morgan in Hemingway’s TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (esp the film version, where he gets taught how to whistle by Lauren Bacall: ‘You just put your lips together and blow.’

What do you read for guilty pleasures?
Hello magazine at the dentist, even though I don’t know who anybody is any more.

Most satisfying writing moment?
Writing the journals of Francisco Falcón for THE BLIND MAN OF SEVILLE.

The best Irish crime novel is…?
THE BOOK OF EVIDENCE by John Banville.

Which Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
ASYLUM by Patrick McGrath (or has it been done and nobody told me?)

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst thing about being a writer: the loneliness. Best thing about being a writer: the solitary nature of the work.

The pitch for your next book is …?
My pitch for THE IGNORANCE OF BLOOD is: El ultimo Falcón: Russian mafiosi and Islamist terrorists find inventive ways to make people dance to their tune in the sweltering heat of Seville.

Who are you reading right now?
Fiction: THE WHITE TIGER by Aravind Adiga. Non-fiction: DREAMS FROM MY FATHER by Barack Obama.

God appears and says you can only write or read. Which would it be?

Read. Who could resist a life of pleasure rather than endless dissatisfaction?

The three best words to describe your writing are ...?
Descriptive. Complex. Demanding.

Robert Wilson’s THE IGNORANCE OF BLOOD is available now

Monday, March 16, 2009

As Well Read I Well May Be

It being Paddy’s Day tomorrow, or St Patrick’s Day, or – as it was in Georgia, when I was there for the Irish knees-up a few years ago – Patty’s Day, here’s a few choice Irish novels to watch out for in 2009. To wit:
MYSTERY MAN, Bateman;*
TOWER, Ken Bruen / Reed Farrel Coleman;
THE LOVERS, John Connolly;
WINTERLAND, Alan Glynn;
ALL THE DEAD VOICES, Declan Hughes;
DARK TIMES IN THE CITY, Gene Kerrigan;*
BLEED A RIVER DEEP, Brian McGilloway;*
FIFTY GRAND, Adrian McKinty;*
THE TWELVE, Stuart Neville;
  Apologies, by the way, if the list seems very male, but there’s nary a whisper of a novel forthcoming from the doyennes of Irish crime fic, Alex Barclay, Tana French, Julie Parsons – although we’re assured that there’ll be another Arlene Hunt on a shelf near you by October. Huzzah!
  I’ve already reviewed those asterisked; for more, clickety-click here … and happy Paddy’s Day, people, and particularly to those exiles who can’t be home for the debauchery. I trust you’ll all do us (hic) proud ...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

“Such A Perfect Day / I’m Glad I Spent It With You …”


Not that you’re particularly interested, but a rather fine day was had yesterday by your humble host. Saturday morning, up early, a nice bit of writing done. Marvellous. And then The Mighty Pool went and stonked Der Filthenfuhrers 4-1, at Old Tatford. Now, I know it’s important to be a good winner and all that, but seriously – 4-1? I was laughing so hard with three minutes to go, I think I lost a testicle.


  After that it was off with the family to the Lambert Puppet Theatre in Monkstown, for ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ and Lilyput’s first excursion to a theatre. I have no idea of what the wee girl thought she was looking at, but she was thrilled skinny by it all. A lovely, lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Incidentally, those Irish among you of a certain age may or may not be glad to know that Judge and Mr Crow are alive and well and still bantering.
  Mind you, I’m not entirely sure about the moral tone of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’. It’s size-ist, for starters. And apparently it’s okay, if you’re poor enough, and so stupid you’ll sell your last cow for a handful of ‘magic’ beans, to storm some guy’s castle and half-inch his magic harp, golden egg-laying chicken, and stash of loot. And then, when he has the temerity to want it back, to kill him. It’s an anarchist’s manifesto.
  Anyhoos, after the ‘Property is theft’ lecture, it was home for a quick-change and into the Batmobile and hence to town, and The Gingerman, for your humble host’s 40th birthday celebrations, at which far too many dry sherries were consumed.

(L-to-R): The Dark Lord of All Evil, Chico ‘Chicovich’ Morientes, Random Drunk Guy
  I’m not actually 40 for another week or so, but even at this early stage it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever consume alcohol again.

(L-to-R): Random Drunk Guy, The Organiser of All Goodness
  And so to the Bat-taxi, and hence to home, and a quick check on the obligingly sleeping Lilyput, and bed, to sleep and perchance to dream. God bless us, every one!