Off with yours truly to the launch of John Connolly’s THE WHISPERERS last Wednesday evening, which was held in the very pleasant environs of the Gutter Bookshop in Dublin’s Temple Bar. Being a perverse kind of Dark Lord, JC refused to read from THE WHISPERERS (clickety-click here for the prologue), instead offering a snippet of his current project, which appears to be a follow-up to THE GATES, which is all sorts of good news. The snippet in question featured four of the seven dwarves (that’ll be the recession, then), some of whom were in mortal danger of being tossed due to their unnecessary aggressiveness, plus a boy-band, a crumbling castle and a pop video shoot, and suggests that the book will be a very funny one indeed.
As always, JC was besieged by fans afterwards in an impromptu signing session; as always, and because the man seems incapable of signing a book without engaging in banter, the signing session took at least an hour. It’s hard to judge these things qualitatively, but from the sounds of it, JC was in even better form by the end of it all than he was at the start, and he was plenty lively at the start.
(By the way - for those unfortunates still yet to escape from Direland, John Connolly features on The Late, Late Show tonight (Friday). If you miss it, the RTE iPlayer can be found here …)
Meanwhile, lurking with intent in the vicinity were Arlene Hunt and Declan Hughes, and Kevin McCarthy and Ed O’Loughlin. Bob Burke was there too, apparently, but I managed to miss him. Boo. Bob Johnstone, the owner of the Gutter Bookshop, seems to be a nice bloke, and we can only wish him well with the new venture. Opening a bookshop in these straitened times, in Ireland, is either a case of counter-intuitive genius or noble lunacy. Either way, Bob gets our vote. Apparently he gets the thumbs up from The Artist Formerly Known As Colin Bateman too, for lo, Bateman is due to do an event at the Gutter Bookshop next month. When I know more, you’ll know more …
In other updates - Kevin McCarthy publishes his debut, PEELER, next month, a potentially fascinating tale of a murder investigation set in Ireland in the 1920s, in which the IRA and the Black-and-Tans chase the same killer. It’s on my bookshelf and due a reading in the immediate future. Meanwhile, Ed O’Loughlin, who got himself a Booker long-list nomination for his debut, NOT UNTRUE & NOT UNKIND, had the news that his second novel, a dystopian sci-fi, will be published next year. Nice. Elsewhere, Arlene Hunt’s latest, BLOOD MONEY, you should know all about, while Declan Hughes’ new offering, THE CITY OF LOST GIRLS, is an absolutely tremendous read, even by his standards, and a whole new gear for one of the best crime writers around. Truly, it’s a terrific novel. Hughes fans are in for a real treat. He should be launching said tome next month too. Apparently there’s a review in Sunday’s New York Times …
While outside for a crafty smoke, I also met Helen, who confessed - in public! - to having read THE BIG O. She also said very nice things about the Princess Lilyput, thus making herself a new friend for life, whether she wants one or not. I thank you kindly, ma’am.
And as if all that wasn’t nice enough, the lovely Margaret Ward and the equally lovely people from Hodder Stoughton were good enough to promise me some tasty titles in the near future, one being the new Tana French, FAITHFUL PLACE, the other being David Mitchell’s eagerly anticipated THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET. Woot, etc.
Finally, I decamped to the nearby Porterhouse in the company of Kevin McCarthy and Ed O’Loughlin for a very pleasant couple of hours chat about books ‘n’ suchlike over a few dry Pimms. Unfortunately, I was on the non-alcoholic Pimms, having been to the dentist on Tuesday in the throes of man-agony, there to discover I was suffering from an infection of an abscess. Picking up some super-strong antibiotics from the chemist (I’m immune to Penicillin, for some bizarre reason), the chemist warned me not to drink booze on top of the pills, which is something I usually do for the extra buzz, even if I hadn’t planned on drinking. ‘Of course I won’t,’ says I. ‘No,’ says she sternly, having caught a glint in my eye, ‘I’m serious - you’ll end up in hospital if you drink alcohol even two days after the course finishes.’ Now, staying off the booze shouldn’t be a huge problem, except my brother’s stag weekend takes place in Galway this weekend. And now I’m curious. Like, seriously - how strong can gum-healing antibiotics really be?
There’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?
Lately I have mostly been reading: THE CITY OF LOST GIRLS by Declan Hughes, 61 HOURS by Lee Child, and THE GOOD MAN JESUS AND THE SCOUNDREL CHRIST by Philip Pullman.
Praise for Declan Burke: “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – The Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “A hardboiled delight.” – The Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review). “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre, was ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL.” – Sunday Times. “The writing is a joy.” – Ken Bruen. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.