“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, October 16, 2009

The Witchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

Eoin Colfer (right, just after stepping out of the Total Perspective Vortex) is currently on the road promoting AND ANOTHER THING …, which is the sixth in the increasingly improbable Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. The pic comes courtesy of the Bookwitch (and by ‘courtesy of’ I mean ‘borrowed without asking’), who was in attendance when Eoin did his schtick in Manchester earlier this week, when – among other things – Eoin announced that his first impression of THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY was ‘Monty Python meets Pink Floyd, in space’. Hyper-jump on over to the Bookwitch for lots more in that vein …
  As for yours truly, and acknowledging that you care not a whit about my opinion, I’m about two-thirds of the way through AND ANOTHER THING … and enjoying it immensely. It’s close enough to Douglas Adams’ style that it’s a bona fide Hitchhiker’s book, and yet it has enough of Eoin Colfer to make it more than slavish imitation. And Eoin Colfer, although it shouldn’t need to be said, is a very funny man.
  The only downside is the continuing absence of Marvin, the Paranoid Android, who gave voice to what is probably my favourite line in all sci-fi: “Why stop now, just when I’m hating it?” Oh well, you can’t have everything. But if you are in the mood for some depressing whining to get you through the weekend, here’s Radiohead with a particularly mournful live version of Paranoid Android. Altogether now: “When I am King / You will be first against the wall …”. Roll it there, Collette …

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Declan Hughes: Must He Throw This Filth At His Kids?

Rachel Petzold was kind enough to review Declan Hughes’ latest offering, ALL THE DEAD VOICES, over at The Feminist Review. She didn’t like the book, which is fair enough, because we’re all entitled to an opinion, especially feminists. The review concludes thusly:
“Declan Hughes is a Shamus Award-winning author, a husband, and a father of two girls. I hope he never lets them read his work.”
  Now, the ‘Shamus Award-winning author’ bit I get, but I’m not entirely sure what Declan Hughes’ marital status, or his being a dad to two girls, has to do with the quality or otherwise of the novel. Besides, given that the two young ladies in question will very probably grow up to become exemplary feminists, how the hell is Declan Hughes supposed to stop them from doing whatever they want to do, reading his very fine novels included?
  Ladies, I know you’re out there. I’d very much appreciate your thoughts on this matter.

What Do You Call A Man With A Sheet Of Paper For A Head?

Russell. Or, if you wanted to be particularly cruel, Jack Russell. All of which is a non-sequiturish way of announcing (trumpets there, please, maestro) that The Artist Formerly Known as Colin Bateman releases his sequel to MYSTERY MAN on November 12th, said offering being THE DAY OF THE JACK RUSSELL, a title so tongue-in-cheek we’re afraid that said cheek might in fact be a buttock. Quoth the blurb elves:
The Small Shopkeeper With No Name is back. Hired to find the vandals responsible for spraying graffiti on an aspiring insurance magnate's advertising hoarding, he soon finds himself up to his ears in intrigue and battling to solve murders which echo in the corridors of power. With MI5 getting involved and everyone on the hunt for a missing Jack Russell, can Our Man Behind the Counter stay alive as well as keep his world renowned but criminally ignored No Alibis mystery bookshop afloat?
  I finally made it as far as the ‘world renowned but criminally ignored No Alibis mystery bookstore’ last weekend, but it was a Sunday morning and the place was locked up tight. There I stood, criminally ignored and not even the crumb of being world renowned to comfort me. Mind you, I only discovered it when I nipped out mid-breakfast for a sly smoke from the café next door, so I suppose I shouldn’t take it personally. Oh, and did I mention that No Alibis is hosting James Ellroy at Belfast’s Waterfront on November 7th, with Stuart Neville providing the Qs in a Q&A? No? Well, maybe I’ll give that a plug tomorrow, then …

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Tale Of Two Titles

Apologies for the confusion, but I can’t make out if Alex Barclay’s new offering is called BLACK RUN or TAINTED – Amazon is calling it BLACK RUN but the title on the book is TAINTED. If anyone out there can confirm what the official title is, I’d be so grateful I’d probably faint. What we can say for certain is that the book will be published on November 26th, and that the blurb elves have been wittering thusly:
Twenty years ago ... A woman lies battered and bleeding to death beneath the gaze of her killer, her head bludgeoned, glass in her face, coughing blood with her last breaths. With a final, shattering blow, she is gone. Present day ... Special Agent Ren Bryce is in trouble. After the brutal murder of her trusted friend and therapist, Dr Helen Wheeler, and the curious alteration of her psychiatric records, she finds herself fighting for her innocence of the heinous crime she did not commit. With a dark connection to a savage murder committed two decades earlier, conflicting evidence, and the return of an old enemy hell-bent on Ren’s destruction, she must battle for the answers she needs to clear her name and find the real killer, whatever the danger, whatever the cost.
  BLACK RUN / TAINTED, by the way, is the follow-up to last year’s BLOOD RUNS COLD, which won the inaugural Best Crime Novel at the Irish Book Awards earlier this year. Will BLACK RUN / TAINTED secure Alex a second gong? Only time, that notoriously impolitic tittle-tattler, will tell …

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is This Thing On?

Further to CAP’s modest and very probably short-lived campaign to put the fun back into publishing (see John Connolly post below), and as an antidote to all the for-and-against Kindle pieces popping up, here’s a gigglesworth I haven’t seen anywhere else …
  As for Kindle, international or otherwise, it ain’t gonna break out. At least, not until all e-readers are multi-format, and the gizmo itself is multi-platform – i.e., that it allows you to play video / film, listen to music, watch TV, surf the web (properly), etc. The Kindle (or Sony e-reader, or any of the e-reader variations) isn’t competing with the book, it’s competing with the laptop / notebook / tablet, the palm-held, the mobile phone, etc. Would you buy a mobile phone that didn’t have a good camera built in? Or that didn’t allow you web access?
  Meanwhile, the Kindle-only CRIME ALWAYS PAYS is currently languishing at # 44,813 on the Kindle charts, which suggests that the above is a severe case of sour grapes. Boo, etc.

Monday, October 12, 2009

You Never Show Me Your Funny

Off with yours truly and my good lady wife to Belfast on Saturday, only to discover that John Connolly had been in to No Alibis on Friday night to launch THE GATES. Boo, etc. No doubt a good time was had by all.
  I read THE GATES a couple of months ago, and loved it, and what I liked best about it was that it represents yet another string to Connolly’s bow. I’ve always loved William Goldman for his ability to write terrific stories regardless of genre – MARATHON MAN, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, the screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – and for his ability to play it straight when required, but to mix it up and have fun whenever he gets the chance. To date John Connolly has written straight crime novels (BAD MEN), crime blended with the supernatural (the Charlie Parker novels), a collection of short stories infused by the classic fairytales of Charles Perrault (NOCTURNES) and the mythology mash-up of the superb THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS. THE GATES blends Satanism, quantum physics and good old-fashioned fun in a tale that put me in mind of THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. It really is one for all the family.
  These days, of course, it’s tough to write in more than one genre, because publishers believe that a writer shouldn’t confuse the oh-so-easily confused readership by offering them anything that deviates from the established brand. Connolly, who writes his non-crime offerings out of contract, is to be celebrated not only for taking a gamble with his time and energies, but for having faith in his readers. Yes, it’s entirely probable that THE GATES will not sell in anything approaching the numbers that the next Charlie Parker novel will. By the same token, it’s also very likely that the publishing house will more than recoup its investment.
  I don’t care, particularly, about the profit margins and bottom line of any publishing house, but if THE GATES does sell well, then there’s a good chance we’ll get another novel featuring the dauntless Samuel Johnson and his faithful daschund Boswell (there’s rumours of a possible three-book series). Which means, and this is my bottom line, that we’ll get another fun book. Remember when you read for fun? Gosh, those were the days …
  Maybe it’s just me, but it can often seem that the publishing biz takes itself far too seriously, writers included. Yes, there are bottom lines to attend to, and in these straitened times there are jobs at stake when a potential best-seller fails to meet expectations. But even taking all that on board, there’s no reason in the world why books – some of them, at least – can’t be fun to read. In fact, in times like these, the industry might do well to play to (and profit from) people’s need to laugh, for the childish (in the best sense of the word) impulse to find fun in the most improbable of places. And John Connolly is a funny guy. Were I a publishing exec, in this day and age, I’d be tickling his funny-bone and hoping it’d get his fingers busy on a keyboard.
  Meanwhile, beg, borrow or steal (or go crazy, and buy) a copy of THE GATES. You owe yourself some fun.