“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, April 24, 2010

ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL

Short-listed for the 2011 Irish Book Awards, and the winner of the Goldsboro Last Laugh Award at Crimefest, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL (Liberties Press) is something of a novel novel, as the reviews below suggest. First, the blurb elves:
Who in the right mind would want to blow up a hospital?

“Close it down, blow it up - seriously, what’s the difference?”

Billy Karlsson needs to get real. Literally. A hospital porter with a sideline in euthanasia, Billy is a character trapped in the purgatory of an abandoned novel. Deranged by logic, driven beyond sanity, Billy makes his final stand: if killing old people won’t cut the mustard, the whole hospital will have to go up in flames.

Only his creator can stop him now, the author who abandoned Billy to his half-life limbo, in which Billy schemes to do whatever it takes to get himself published, or be damned …
Cover Quotes:

“A genuinely original take on noir, inventive and funny … Imagine, if you can, a cross between Flann O’Brien and Raymond Chandler.” - John Banville

“ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is unlike anything else you’ll read this year … Laugh-out-loud funny … This is writing at its dazzling, cleverest zenith. Think John Fowles, via Paul Auster and Rolling Stone … A feat of extraordinary alchemy.” - Ken Bruen

ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL from Liberties Press

ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL from Amazon UK

ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL from Kindle US (& Ireland)

ABSOLUTE ZERO COOK on Kindle UK

The Good Word:

“Metafiction? Postmodern noir? These and other labels will be applied to Burke’s newest; any might be apt, but none is sufficient. ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is largely a literary novel that draws on history, mythology, and literature … Noir fans may not care for this one, but lovers of literary fiction will find much to savour.” - Booklist

“ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is brilliant … a joy-ride through the history of Western culture … ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL will stand comparison to the very best of Italo Calvino, Milan Kundera and Umberto Eco.” - Amazon review *****

“ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL starts a slow burn that ultimately builds to a literally explosive conclusion … Wickedly sharp, darkly humorous, uncommonly creative and brilliantly executed.” - Elizabeth A. White

“Stylistically removed from anything being attempted by his peers … [a] darkly hilarious amalgam of classic crime riffing (hep Elmore Leonard-isms and screwballing) and the dimension-warping reflections of Charlie Kaufman or Kurt Vonnegut. Like the latter’s SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL sees another Billy “come unstuck” in what is, frankly, a brilliant premise.” - Sunday Independent

“Among the many crime fiction references, it’s [Patricia] Highsmith that resonates most with ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL (for me) … Declan Burke has cemented his central position in the current wave of neo-noir and contemporary crime fiction.” - Glenn Harper, International Noir

“Burke sprinkles his way-outside-the-box noir with quotes from Beckett, Bukowski, and other literary names as he explores the nature of writing and the descent of personal darkness. Those looking for a highly intellectual version of Stephen King’s THE DARK HALF will be most satisfied.” - Publishers Weekly


“Karlsson is a thrilling creation, up there with the Patrick Batemans of literature … a masterpiece of unsavoury reflection on history and Darwinism blended with a hefty dose of sociopathy, yet always leavened with pitch-black wit … To borrow from [Ken] Bruen's blurb, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is unlike anything else you’ll read this year: funny and disturbing, it also straddles a fine line between the absurd and the profound. It never forgets the conventions of crime fiction, while simultaneously subverting them. A triumph.” - Sunday Times

“Declan Burke’s ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a cigarette paper … [a] sublimely crazy book.” - Stuart Neville

“Thus begins a fascinating hybrid of MISERY, AT SWIM-TWO-BIRDS, THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN, and who knows what else … ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL isn’t quite like anything else you’ve read, in any genre. It’s clever, intimate, passionate, and funny: altogether a wonderful achievement.” - Irish Times

“What is most refreshing … is its ambition. It is rare that a so-called genre book attempts to wrest free of its constraints and do something entirely different. ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is a genre-buster. Clever, funny, challenging, surreal, unexpected and entirely original.” - Irish Independent

“Declan Burke plunges into surreal realms in this exhilarating, cleverly wrought novel … Comparisons to Flann O’Brien’s AT SWIM-TWO-BIRDS are obvious, yet Burke’s canny control of his novel means they’re positive ones.” - Sunday Business Post

“A new Irish absurd, the Blazing Saddles of crime fiction … The illogicality that surrounds us, the double speak and unthink, is very much the secret subject of this book … It’s a novel that is mentally stimulating, entertaining, fun, provocative, original and ambitious.” - Arena, RTE

“An ambitious, satisfying black comedy … subverting genres within the very loose framework of a crime thriller. So dark is the novel-within-a-novel premise that it makes Fight Club look like a Marx Brothers knockabout comedy.” - Evening Herald

“We’re into a self-conscious world of meta-fiction, somewhere between Muriel Sparks’ THE COMFORTERS, Bret Easton Ellis’ LUNAR PARK, and Flann O’Brien ... It’s a measure of Burke’s achievement in this funny and clever book that he can stand comparison to these three … the book is witty, philosophical and a page-turning crime thriller.” - The Dubliner

“ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is an absolutely wonderful read, start to finish. Declan Burke has penned the most original work of cross-genre fiction I’ve read in a long time. Literary, socially conscious, journalistically cynical … an absolute must-read.” - Charlie Stella

“Satire and high art meets screwball noir … ABSOLUTE ZEROCOOLtakes the crime genre and its many tropes and stereotypes and throws them out the window. It’s a genuinely unique tale.” - The View From the Blue House

“ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is a fine example of comedic crime noir … this is an author you need to read.” - Mystery File

“My point is, there is increasing room for super-consciousness, post-rational literature -- particularly in our post-rational world -- along the lines of Woyzeck, Bertold Brecht, Robbe-Grillet, Samuel Beckett, and others. Most recently, Declan Burke’s ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL. My kind of book. Maybe it could be called Gonzolit. Serious as the World Series, clean as Van Gogh’s ear surgery, worthy of our times.” - Malcolm Berry

“This isn’t crime for profit’s sake, with a little hipness thrown in; it’s depravity examining its navel … ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is brilliant and baffling, enjoyable and vexing, funny and disturbing.” - One Bite At a Time

“This is not a ‘crime’ book in the normal sense of having a detective, a killer and an easy to follow plot. It is a stunningly beautiful and achingly funny work which probes the type of existential questions raised by works like NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND and CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Dostoyevsky, and works by Sartre, Camus (THE PLAGUE), Kafka, andIreland’s Beckett and Flann O’Brien.” - Amazon review (1) *****

“Burke writes with humour and wit, often sending up the crime genre itself. The reader’s tolerance will be tested with each new sadistic twist.” - Books Ireland

“The most twisted, unusual book I’ve ever read.” - Various Random Thoughts

“On its surface it crackles with wit, aphorisms, black one-liners, erudite literary allusions, popular culture references, and frequently surprising wordplay … ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is a literary novel and a darkly humorous work of philosophy. It easily falls into that sub-category of intellectual noir … Dante is well served here, all around.” - Little Known Gems

“The debt to Flann O'Brien is clear but unlike O’Brien’s coldly brilliant mindscapes, Burke’s creation has a heart as well as a brain.” - Amazon review (2) *****

“ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL sees Burke stretching the crime thriller genre until it snaps and then sewing it back together with some of the finest prose and funniest dialogue you’ll encounter this year. I can’t recommend this book enough. Destined to be a cult classic.” - Amazon Review (3) *****

“Dreamlike and invigorating, [AZC] combines surrealism with the best of noir fiction in an enthralling reminiscence of Flann O’Brien’s ATSWIM-TWO-BIRDS … Burke’s writing issharp, funny, and excruciatingly honest … a genuinely original and inventive novel … a clever, personal, and charming story.” - The Crime of It All

“Declan Burke has crafted an exciting, hilarious, thoughtful and moving story … I’ve read a lot of cracking novels this year but ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is my favourite. And it could well be yours, too.” - Mean Streets

“This is a bloody good thriller. It’s also funny, thought-provoking and very satisfying. Some reviews refer to it as possibly becoming a cult classic; I think it deserves to be more.” - Booksquawk

“A challenging, pleasing, provocative, wise-cracking read … ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL contains more than enough material for a couple of thousand conventional novels.” - John J Gaynard

“ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is unlike anything else you’ll read this year … Laugh-out-loud funny … This is writing at its dazzling, cleverest zenith. Think John Fowles, via Paul Auster and Rolling Stone … A feat of extraordinary alchemy.” - Ken Bruen

“A harrowing and yet hilarious examination of the gradual disintegration of a writer’s personality, as well as a damned fine noir novel … Burke has outdone himself this time; it’s a hell of a read.” - Scott Philips

“Declan Burke has broken the mould with ABSOLUTE ZEROCOOL, which is actually very cool indeed. Funny, inventive and hugely entertaining crime fiction - I guarantee you’ll love it.” - Melissa Hill

“Stop waiting for Godot - he’s here. Declan Burke takes the existential dilemma of characters writing about themselves and turns it on its ear, and then some. He gives it body and soul … an Irish soul.” - Reed Farrel Coleman

On Putting The Lie Into Belief

At the risk of straying into Peter Rozovsky territory, I’ve been mulling over a feature on how crime fiction is being used by writers in settings not traditionally considered hotbeds of crime fiction - Poland, Brazil, the Palestinian Territories, Nepal - in order to broach taboos about the political system in which their characters live. I’m also reading Donna Leon’s A QUESTION OF BELIEF, which is pretty stark at times when it comes to cynicism about the ruling elite. To wit:
“How many times had he heard the people use the phrase, ‘Governo Ladro’? And how many times had he agreed in silence that the government was a thief? But in the last few years, as though some previous sense of restraint or shame had been overcome, there had been less attempt on the part of their rulers to pretend that they were anything less than what they were.”
  And later, in a court room:
“After all, much of what was being said was lies, or at least evasions and interpretations. The business of law was not the discovery of truth, anyway, but the imposition of the power of the state upon its citizens.”
  Has anyone else come across similar kinds of statements of intent by crime authors recently, and preferably writers from territories you wouldn’t immediately associate with crime fiction? The floor is yours …

Friday, April 23, 2010

And JC Arose And Spoke To Many

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.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Dark Art of Paranoia

The publication of the paperback edition of Alan Glynn’s WINTERLAND is as good an excuse as any to reprint the interview with him I had published in the Irish edition of the Sunday Times’ Culture section a couple of months ago. To wit:
It started on the late, late shows. While most boys in the early ’70s were trawling the late-night TV channels in the hope of glimpsing some illicit flesh, the teenage Alan Glynn was getting off on a more potent charge: paranoia.
  “I think that the stuff you ingest as a teenager is the stuff that sticks with you for life,” says Glynn. “When I was a teenager in the 1970s, the biggest influence was movies, and especially the conspiracy thrillers. What they call the ‘paranoid style’ in America – Klute, The Parallax View, All the President’s Men, Three Days of the Condor, and of course, the great Chinatown. There was a societal thing going on, they were examining the whole paranoia thing in American politics at the time, which seemed exotic to me when I was catching late-night movies on BBC2. It was exotic back then, but now we’ve got it. We’re all paranoid now.”
  ‘Follow the money,’ urged Deep Throat in All the President’s Men. Sage advice for those trying to understand why and how Ireland’s boom went bust; or it might be, were there any money left to follow.
  Written while the economy was still thriving, Glynn’s new novel, Winterland, nevertheless gets under the bricks and mortar of post-boom Ireland. Noel Rafferty is a consultant working on a building development on Dublin’s quays. His nephew, also Noel Rafferty, is a gangland hard man. When both men die on the same night, Gina Rafferty, sister and aunt to the men, suspects there is more to the deaths than mere coincidence. As Gina asks questions of those in authority, however, the novel broadens its remit to investigate the connections between blue-collar criminality and those who inhabit the white-collar worlds of politics and business, the latter with fortunes to lose if their building development fails.
  Is there a danger that there will be little new in Winterland, at least in terms of newspaper headlines, for contemporary readers?
  “There has been a tendency for people to say that this is a very prescient book,” he says. “But none of it was consciously written to be prescient. It’s not an economic polemic, or a political polemic, so the specifics of the story detail and how they run parallel to where we are now aren’t all that important.”
  Established as a paradigm by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, the theme of linking street-level crime to those in positions of authority abusing their power is virtually axiomatic in crime fiction. Glynn, however, is interested in taking that paradigm onto another level (“I haven’t read a lot of it, really,” he says. “I’m not an expert on crime writing.”) In common with such recent Irish novels as Gerard Donovan’s Julius Winsome, Kevin Power’s Bad Day in Blackrock, or Gene Kerrigan’s Dark Times in the City, Winterland expands beyond crime and punishment to explore those junctures where the personal becomes the political. Fuelled by bad blood and paranoia, the novels investigate the nature of justice itself.
  “Gene Kerrigan is much more knowledgeable about the specifics of this, because of his career in journalism,” says Glynn. “And I think ‘crusade’ would too strong a word, but juxtaposing street crime with the kind of crime that happens in politics or business, I think that highlights on a moral level the question, ‘Where’s the difference?’ Not to be heavy-handed about it, but in Winterland, certain people get away with things in a way that people from a lower economic class wouldn’t get away with.”
  In person amiable and self-deprecating to a fault, Glynn is a far cry from the hard-bitten anti-heroes of ‘the paranoid style’, although he is every bit as single-minded when it comes to following his instincts. Born in Dublin in 1960, and educated locally, he decided very early in life that he had a vocation to write.
  “There was never anything else, ever, on the radar. I have a photograph of myself when I was about seven, sitting at a desk with a pen and a notebook. I only came across it recently, and I was amazed, but it’s completely consistent with what I remember as a kid.”
  He went to Trinity College to read English, where he met his wife Eithne, with whom he has two sons. He then spent five years in Verona teaching English, and then went to New York, returning to Ireland in 1992, when he took the decision to write full-time. His first novel, The Dark Fields, set in New York, was published in 2002.
  “It’s insane,” he says of the writing process, “it’s painfully, painstakingly slow. If I have to write a note to the milkman it’ll take me half-an-hour and three drafts. Not that it’ll be any better in the end, but that’s just the process I have to go through. And that’s a disadvantage in some respects.”
  The main disadvantage is that, as a father of two, and despite working as a full-time writer, Glynn has produced only two published novels in eight years. A third novel, The Paloma Stripe, was rejected in 2005.
  “The reason I was given basically boiled down to ‘likeability’, they had a ‘likeability’ issue with the main character. And that’s a very subjective thing.” It’s also an issue more relevant to commercial fiction, whereas Glynn’s ambitions are more literary. “Look at Humbert Humbert, you wouldn’t call him a likeable character. Or Macbeth.”
  With the publication of Winterland and a Neil Burger-helmed Hollywood adaptation of The Dark Fields due later this year, Glynn’s personal circumstances have hugely improved. His themes, however, remain the same.
  “It’s called Bloodland,” he says of his current work, “and it’s not a sequel to The Dark Fields, but it develops a minor character from that novel and turns on similar themes of power and corruption and the abuse of money and position. The character is an investment banker, and he’s involved in a series of companies which are involved in illegal mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I’m fascinated by this idea that the scramble for Africa, and the plunder of its natural resources, is as big or bigger today as it was when Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness. Then it was ivory and rubber, and the exploitation was on a massive scale. Today it’s coltan, and other precious metals that are used in consumer products, like mobile phones and games consoles and that kind of stuff.”
  Again, the personal meets the political.
  “Well, absolutely. It’s about responsibility – taking responsibility or not taking responsibility, and the broad consequences individual actions can have throughout society.”
  Winterland’s abiding symbol is a tower being built in Dublin’s docklands, proposed to be Europe’s highest building if only those individuals with their hands on the levers of power can apply enough pressure in the right places. Such projects, whether flawed by engineering or overweening ambition, are now considered monuments or mausoleums to the boom years.
  “I was writing this when everything was fine, economically speaking,” says Glynn, “although in saying that, if you looked ahead you knew there had to be something coming down the tracks. People saying, ‘This time it’s different,’ and ‘The Irish model is different.’ We knew then that that was insane. But I was conscious even then that this flaw in the building could symbolise in some sense the hubris that existed, that there was an in-built, invisible fatal flaw in this whole economic boom. Originally the flaw was just a technical issue, an engineering problem, but it quickly became apparent that it was symbolic. I didn’t want to push that too heavily, or be heavy-handed about it, but it was there.
  “Now, in the context of the economic collapse, it makes more sense. It’s clearer to me now than it would have been then. The organic development of those kind of ideas … Sometimes it’s hard, because you’re not quite sure of where it’s bringing you. I think that’s a very important part of writing, to learn to go with that instinctual feel for an idea. You have to trust that.”
  ‘That all is not what it seems’ was once described by the great creative writing teacher John Gardner as the quintessential narrative hook, and it’s an instinctive philosophy that Glynn cleaves to as he gives voice to a distrust of authority that is by no means confined to Ireland.
  “It’s the only sane position to hold,” he says. “This whole idea that we’re being presented with what’s going on, but that behind that again there’s something else happening. Not to be a loopy conspiracy theorist, but just to voice the sense that there’s a disconnect. And we’ve had plenty of evidence of that over the last two decades that things simply were not as we were told they were.”
  This article first appeared in the Irish edition of the Sunday Times’ Culture section.

Monday, April 19, 2010

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Andrew Gross

Yep, it’s rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...

What crime novel would you most like to have written?
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Cookbooks and the obits.

Most satisfying writing moment?
First seeing my name atop the NYT bestseller list. (Though it followed James Patterson’s).

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: touring. Best: the commute. (Okay, fan mail! Actually, people checking in from my past who have read my books.)

The pitch for your next book is …?
A doctor looks into the suicide of his brother’s son, discovering it may not be a suicide after all, but the latest in a string of revenge killings for a youthful betrayal that took place forty years ago.

Who are you reading right now?
Stieg Larsson 2, HELTER SKELTER on Manson (for work), latest Linwood Barclay.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Hands down - I’d write.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Pace, reversals, heart.

Andrew Gross’s RECKLESS is published by William Morrow.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Best Things In Life Are Free … Books

Pepper Smith has been kind enough to offer CAP two copies of her new novel, BLOOD MONEY, for the purposes of a competition giveaway. First, the blurb elves:
When Patty O’Donnell married her Irish sweetheart and moved from America to her husband’s small home town on the Irish seacoast, the most dangerous things she had to deal with were the half-ton racehorses in her father-in-law’s stables. But when she and her husband return from a late night out to find their house being searched, she discovers there are far worse things lurking in her bucolic surroundings than temperamental Thoroughbreds. The teenage son of a late family friend brings proof of a long forgotten debt owed by the O’Donnells, part of a cargo lost in a shipwreck over a century and a half ago. He wants the cargo salvaged, and quickly, so he can help his mother free herself from her abusive second husband. The O’Donnells are willing, but the search and salvage mission puts them square in the sights of modern-day pirates, who want the salvage for themselves. Suddenly, Patty finds herself hunted and in a fight for her life, where yielding to panic means a swift and ugly death.
  For Chapter One, clickety-click here. Meanwhile, to be in with a chance of winning a free copy of BLOOD MONEY, just answer the following question:
Which Irish author recently released a book entitled BLOOD MONEY? Was it:
  (a) Arlene Hunt;
  (b) Bertie Ahern;
  (c) The Board of Directors at Anglo-Irish Bank?
  Answers in the comment box, please, along with a contact email address (using (at) instead of @ to confound the spam monkeys), before noon on Monday, April 26th. Et bon chance, mes amis