“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, February 6, 2010

The Future Is Orange-Ish


It’s about six or seven years ago now that my brother Gavin and I went to the Greek islands. The idea was to travel around the Cyclades, as most people tend to do, but we spent most of the month, May into June, on Ios.
  That might seem a bit of a waste, especially as all the guide books tell you that there’s little to be seen on Ios by way of history or culture. But I had a laptop with me, and I was working on a novel set in the Greek islands, and we got into a nice little rhythm of getting up early, working for a few hours, spending a few more hours exploring parts of the island (there’s plenty to see, the highlights being (one of) Homer’s tombs, and a beautiful Venetian castle at Paleokastro), sleeping into the early evening, and then heading for the Orange Bar.
  It’s a very nice place, the Orange Bar. Low-key, friendly, terrific music … there was very little not to like. The place was run by Wendy, a bonny Scottish lass, and Panos, a music nut Greek (right, and righter), and lovely they were too, and very probably still are. Gavin and I hoisted ourselves onto a pair of stools every evening and drank beer and shots (every third shot came free, courtesy of Wendy, who was testing out some recipes) and talked writing and books and movies and music and women and life, the universe and everything. And every night we requested ‘The Boys of Summer’, and every night Panos played it. A damn fine time, all told. Wendy, incidentally, and if she wasn’t lovely enough already, was named for the heroine of PETER PAN.
  The novel I was writing while on Ios finally got written, although it grew into a sprawling monster of 150,000 words or so, and will remain locked in a deep, dank drawer until it learns to behave itself. Meanwhile, I wrote THE BIG O, and its sequel, CRIME ALWAYS PAYS, in which most of the characters from THE BIG O wind up on Ios. A fictionalised version of the Orange Bar, called ‘The Blue Orange’, serves as a nerve centre for various nefarious deeds; indeed, I wrote the story under the working title of THE BLUE ORANGE. Naturally, no one even remotely akin to Wendy, Panos or any of their clientele makes an appearance in the novel.
  I’d like to have a copy or two to send to Wendy and Panos, but – as all three regular readers will be aware – CRIME ALWAYS PAYS is only available in e-format. Still, the good news there is that the Kindle version is now available for those of you with various iYokes: the app comes free, and can be downloaded here. When I mentioned this last week, CRIME ALWAYS PAYS jumped about 20,000 places on the Kindle charts, from 40,000+ to 20,000+, and even sneaked in to 13,573 at one stage. Since then it’s hovered around the mid-20,000 mark, which may well be rubbish by any accepted standard of book-selling, but I don’t know, I’m getting a buzz from it.
  Glenn Harper of International Noir was kind enough to post a review of CRIME ALWAYS PAYS this week, with the thrust of his piece running thusly:
“CRIME ALWAYS PAYS is part road movie and part farce, reminding me sometimes of Elmore Leonard, sometimes of Allan Guthrie (particularly SAVAGE NIGHT), sometimes of Donald Westlake (particularly the Dortmunder books), and sometimes of the Coen brothers (particularly Blood Simple) – sometimes all at once.”
  Thank you kindly, Mr Harper.
  So: if enough people buy CRIME ALWAYS PAYS on Kindle, someone somewhere might even publish it as an actual book, and I’ll be able to send Wendy and Panos a copy. Hell, I might even be able to return to Ios and hand it to them in person, and get one last blast of ‘The Boys of Summer’. Roll it there, Collette …

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Something Pooky This Way Comes

John Connolly has been dabbling in the dark corners where demons lurk for many years now, and Stuart Neville’s THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST (aka THE TWELVE), as the title suggests, also incorporated supernatural elements, or at least allowed for the possibility of such. Is a trend starting? Should I start dusting off my dog-eared collection of Aleister Crowleys? For lo, the blurb for Stephen Leather’s latest, NIGHTFALL, runneth thusly:
“You’re going to hell, Jack Nightingale.” They are the words that ended his career as a police negotiator. Now Jack’s a struggling private detective – and the chilling words come back to haunt him. Nightingale’s life is turned upside down the day that he inherits a mansion with a priceless library; it comes from a man who claims to be his father, and it comes with a warning. That Nightingale’s soul was sold at birth and a devil will come to claim it on his thirty-third birthday – just three weeks away. Jack doesn’t believe in Hell, probably doesn’t believe in Heaven either. But when people close to him start to die horribly, he is led to the inescapable conclusion that real evil may be at work. And that if he doesn’t find a way out he’ll be damned in hell for eternity.
  And if that doesn’t constitute a trend, then how about THE DEVIL, the forthcoming Jack Taylor from Sir Kenneth of Bruen? Quoth the blurb elves:
America - the land of opportunity, a place where economic prosperity beckons: but not for PI Jack Taylor, who’s just been refused entry. Disappointed and bitter, he thinks that an encounter with an over-friendly stranger in an airport bar is the least of his problems. Except that this stranger seems to know rather more than he should about Jack. Jack thinks no more of their meeting and resumes his old life in Galway. But when he’s called to investigate a student murder - connected to an elusive Mr K - he remembers the man from the airport. Is the stranger really is who he says he is? With the help of the Jameson, Jack struggles to make sense of it all. After several more murders and too many coincidental encounters, Jack believes he may have met his nemesis. But why has he been chosen? And could he really have taken on the devil himself?
  Jack, of course, has long been at war with the demon drink, but this sounds a bit more personal …
  So. The Big Question: Any other upcoming occult-themed Irish crime novels out there we should know about? Or any featuring a few angels, maybe even a Messiah? We’re all ears, people …

  This week I have been mostly reading: DIAMOND STAR HALO by Tiffany Murray; PILGERMANN by Russell Hoban; and SICILIAN CAROSUEL by Lawrence Durrell.