“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 6, 2010

Blood Type A+


Just in case you can’t read the fine print in the invite above, Arlene Hunt launches BLOOD MONEY, the latest in the QuicK Investigations series starring private eyes Sarah Kenny and John Quigley, this coming Wednesday 10th March, at The Gutter Bookshop, Cow’s Lane, Temple Bar in Dublin, festivities to kick off circa 6.30pm, with all welcome. Quoth the blurb elves:
Death and violence are all Pavel Sunic has ever known. Only one person matters to him, his sister Ana. When she pays the ultimate price to secure his release from a Bosnian prison, he vows to avenge her death. The bloody path he creates leads to Dublin.
  Quick Investigations is suffering. With his partner Sarah Kenny still missing, John Quigley struggles to keep the business afloat. When Rose Butler approaches him to investigate the death of her daughter Alison, John takes the case even though the evidence points to suicide.
  Yet why did the promising doctor and mother of two choose to die alone in a shabby hotel room? What was her relationship with Ivan Colbert, a disgraced surgeon? And just how dangerous is the dead woman's husband?
  Torn between his case and his personal life, John is stretched beyond capacity. And the arrival of Pavel Sunic threatens to bring the whole pack of cards crashing down.
  Blood Money: first do no harm, second, run for cover.
  If you can’t make it, take a tip from John Connolly and just buy the book anyway. “Arlene Hunt may just be the best female crime writer to have emerged from these islands in recent years,” says the Dark Lord, and when he says ‘these islands’, he’s not talking about Ireland, Rathlin and sundry Arans. BLOOD MONEY, people – you know it makes sense …

Thursday, March 4, 2010

World Book Day, 2020

The more eagle-eyed among CAP’s three regular readers will have noticed that I’ve recently changed the format of this blog ever-so-slightly. It’s not a particularly radical move; it simply involved moving the book covers (pictured left) up the blog from where they were previously buried away. The object of the exercise is to give people the opportunity, if they’re so inclined, and haven’t done so already, to buy one of my books – if you click on any of the pics, you’ll find yourself in the wunnerful world of Amazon.com, where copies of all three books can be found for no more than a dollar or so.
  Obviously, if you’re buying a copy of EIGHTBALL BOOGIE, say, for a dollar, my return on your investment is going to be minimal, to say the least. But making money isn’t the point. The idea is simply to get the stories to the maximum number of people possible, because – and this is something that has been exercising me lately – the whole point of writing a story is that it’s read. Certainly, there follows from that issues of ego, self-esteem, remuneration both financial and emotional, etc., but fundamentally, any and every story is written first and foremost to be read, regardless of how it is published or in what format it comes.
  Being ludicrously disorganised, I can’t claim that I reformatted the blog in anticipation of World Book Day; but while I was doing so, it occurred to me the extent to which, in the seven short years since I published EIGHTBALL BOOGIE, the publishing world has changed dramatically. EIGHTBALL was published in an entirely conventional manner, being pitched by an agent to a publisher, who paid an advance for the privilege of publishing it, and lo!, out it came on a shelf, as if by magic. THE BIG O, by way of contrast, was co-published with Hag’s Head a few years later, the co-publishing aspect involving me paying half the costs of getting the book to the shelf, and claiming half the profits (which, I should say, provided a return of roughly 500% on my initial investment). The third book, CRIME ALWAYS PAYS, was last year self-published as an e-book, an option virtually unimaginable to all but the most romantic idealists when EIGHTBALL BOOGIE first came out.
  So here’s the Big Q on this World Book Day, 2010: given the way the industry has changed so quickly in such a short space of time, how are things likely to look in 2020? What will have changed? What will remain in place? What in the current model of publishing is indispensable? What is utterly useless? Will books even resemble the books on your shelf right now?
  The floor is open, people …

  In other news, Variety is reporting that Robert De Niro has signed on to star opposite Bradley Cooper in the movie of Alan Glynn’s THE DARK FIELDS. Alan? I’ll be around later on for my tincture of Pimms …

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Peel Deal

Those of you with a penchant for historical crime fiction might want to keep an eye on Kevin McCarthy, whose debut novel PEELER hits the shelves in May. Quoth the blurb elves:
West Cork, November 1920. The Irish War of Independence rages. The body of a young woman is found brutally murdered on a windswept hillside. A scrap board sign covering her mutilated body reads ‘TRATOR’. Traitor. Acting Sergeant Sean O’Keefe of the Royal Irish Constabulary, a wounded veteran of the Great War, is assigned to investigate the crime, aided by sinister detectives sent from Dublin Castle to ensure he finds the killer, just so long as the killer he finds best serves the purposes of the Crown in Ireland. The IRA has instigated its own investigation into the young woman’s death, assigning young Volunteer Liam Farrell - failed gunman and former law student - to the task of finding a killer it cannot allow to be one of its own. Unknown to each other, an RIC constable and an IRA Volunteer relentlessly pursue the truth behind the savage killing, their investigations taking them from the bullet-pocked lanes and thriving brothels of war-torn Cork city to the rugged, deadly hills of West Cork.
  Mmm, sounds tasty. For a sneak peak at Chapter One, clickety-click here

Sunday, February 28, 2010

And So To Barcelona

Off with Yours Truly and Mrs Truly to Barcelona at the weekend, to soak up some sun and good vibes, both of which missions were accomplished with considerable ease and very little effort on our behalf. It’s a nice city, Barcelona – an industrial city, fiercely proud but not particularly pretty or in love with itself, with just enough cultural landmarks to make the trip worthwhile and not so much that you feel a complete philistine for bunking off every couple of hours for a beer / coffee / tapes / siesta. Mrs Truly, of course, did all the pre-jaunt legwork, and installed us in the Advance Hotel (recommended), a minute or so stroll from Playa Universidad, and five minutes or so from the Playa Catalunya, the Rambla, and assorted cathedrals, Gothic quarters, et al. Temperatures hit 16 degrees, the food was terrific, the coffee was even better, and I was back on the Mediterranean littoral again. Happy days.
  Mrs Truly wanted to see the Fundacio Joan Miró up on Montjuic, so off we toddled on Friday morning. First, the funicular and cable car combo was out of action, which meant we had to take a bus, which was a bummer; second, the Joan Miró exhibition was a pile of pants that only confirmed that most modern art was and remains a reaction – and reactionary reaction – to the advent of the camera. Yes, I understand the reasons for the infantile scrawls, but seriously, there were guys painting better stuff on the cave walls at Lascaux 20,000 years ago, and they weren’t a bunch of knowing, self-referential middle-class dilettantes. Art without a narrative is just about acceptable if it’s technically brilliant, and it’s by no means necessary that it ‘speaks’ to me (or anyone else, including the artist) to be relevant as art. But art (any kind of art) without function is simply a waste of time and space.
  We came across the bull at top right on the way home on Saturday night, one of the many examples of public art dotted around Barcelona. It may or may not be a bovine spoof of Rodin’s The Thinker – I was apple schnappsed to my eyeballs – but either way, it had far more to recommend it than the entire Miró exhibition. Mind you, Mrs Truly loved the Miró material, and I know next to nothing about the visual arts, so feel free to mock my crashingly boorish ignorance.
  Speaking of which, the Picasso museum is impressively detailed in terms of the artist’s evolution from a conventional painter of portraits to the man who would eventually paint Guernica. Trouble is, there’s about five hundred rooms worth of very minor work that cover the first 20 years or so of his career, and then a massive lurch forward that skims his later and far more interesting work. And nary a replica of Guernica to be seen, although it’s possible I passed by it with my eyes glazed over.
  The Sagrada Familia, on the other hand, almost defies superlatives, and the interior moreso than the exterior, oddly enough, even though the interior is pretty much a building site. Is architecture art? No matter. A single, stupendously outrageous purpose hewn from a multiplicity of narratives, conceived by a vision spiced with no little lunacy, the Sagrada Familia literally sent chills down my spine. The last time I felt like that was in the Parthenon. Did it ‘speak’ to me? Yes, and I even heard it, despite all the hammering and drilling. Basically, it confirmed what I’ve suspected all along, that my own ambitions (artistic) are so microscopic by comparison with those of true artists as to be dirt, both figuratively and literally. A chastening experience, but a good and necessary one.
  The Rambla, by the way, was a very disappointing thoroughfare. No one even tried to pick my pocket. We had much more fun wandering through the Old Town and the Gothic Barrio, stumbling across beautiful mediaeval cathedrals and churches and being offered every drug known to mankind, except ketamine. If you want my advice, go north of the Rambla beyond Playa Catalunya, and up the Paseo de Gracia – beautiful buildings, some of them inspired by Gaudi, and terrific restaurants, particularly Costa Gallego, where they stuff you full of free apple schnapps after your meal.
  By the way, the news about Hughes & Hughes bookstore chain going into receivership filtered through on Friday night – terribly sad news, especially as it’s a family-run business, and especially for the 245 staff. Hughes & Hughes have been very strong supporters of Irish writing of all hues over the last decade or so, and they were behind the Irish Book Awards. What it all means for Irish publishing has yet to fall out, but I imagine it’ll be one of those few ill winds that’ll do no one any good.