“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “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.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kafka, Stalinism And Serial Killers: Yep, It’s The Irish Crime Novel

Yesterday I had the very rare joy of a Saturday afternoon all to myself, when I could have (a) toddled off to Dalkey to listen to Declan Hughes and John Connolly wax lyrical about ‘the 10 Crime Novels to Read Before You Die’, (b) watched a World Cup game in its entirety, or (c) got horizontal on the couch and cracked open Robert Fannin’s FALLING SLOWLY. I was very tempted to go for (a), but being a lazy bugger, and being all World Cupped out after England’s tragi-comic adventure against Algeria, I eventually opted for (c). A good choice, as it happens, and the early signs are promising in a Kafkaesque way. I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, if anyone was at the Connolly / Hughes gig, and made a list of their 10 novels to read before you die, I’m all ears …
  Incidentally, Crime Watch hosted a John Connolly ‘9MM’ interview earlier this week; clickety-click here for more. And THE WHITE GALLOWS author Rob Kitchin also found himself staring down the same barrel: you can find his answers here.
  Staying with interviews, Sue Leonard recently quizzed William Ryan for the Irish Examiner, when William had this to say about the origins of his debut, THE HOLY THIEF:
“I’d read Isaac Babel’s short stories and was working on a screenplay of his life (Babel was executed in Russia’s reign of terror). I found that whole period in Russia fascinating.
  “I took a hero – Korolev, working with the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Militia, who is not the brightest. I threw him in this situation and waited to see what would happen. I’m interested in dictatorship; in how ordinary people behave in extraordinary situations.
  “You were required to give absolute loyalty in the Stalinist period. They were prepared to do bad things, believing that the end justified the means. Communism was a religion really. It offered paradise on earth and in the near future. The only way they could function was to believe, ‘This must mean something’.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here
  Finally, TV3’s Morning Ireland programme hosted Gerard O’Donovan during the week, with Gerard offering insights into the whys and wherefores of his debut novel, THE PRIEST, and why he decided (with his tongue firmly stuck in cheek, presumably) to ‘put the crucifix back at the heart of Irish writing’. More seriously, the conversation then goes on to investigate the challenge of writing a credible crime novel in Ireland that features a serial killer, particularly as Ireland has never had - officially, at least - a bona fide serial killer.
  So: why hasn’t Ireland had its very own serial killer? Is it because we’re all too nice ‘n’ cuddly ‘n’ twinkly-eyed ‘n’ pleasantly drunk to bother? Or because there’s always been any number of ‘causes’ available to offer an umbrella of political respectability and sectarian motivation if you’re of a mind to snuff people out?
  For Gerard O’Donovan’s TV3 interview, clickety-click here

  Lately I have mostly been reading: THE USES OF PESSIMISM by Roger Scruton; THE WINGS OF THE SPHINX by Andrea Camilleri; TINKERS by Paul Harding; and THIEF by Maureen Gibbon.

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