“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.

Friday, December 10, 2010

One Pill Makes You Larger …

Good news, bad news. The good news is that there’s a very nifty trailer for the adaptation of Alan Glynn’s THE DARK FIELDS doing the rounds, said trailer featuring Bradley Cooper in an ‘infomercial’ about the radical new superdrug, NZT. The bad news is that the movie has been re-titled ‘Limitless’, which makes a certain amount of sense in terms of the movie’s content, but is nowhere as interesting a title as ‘The Dark Fields’. Anyhoo, the movie also stars Robert De Niro, Abby Cornish and Anna Friel, and is slated to open (in the US, at least) next March. In the meantime, roll it there, Collette …

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Working Class Hero Is Something To Be

One thing I’ve always liked about John Lennon, who was shot to death on this day 30 years ago, is that there’s a rare quality of savagery to some of his best lyrics. ‘Working Class Hero’ may not be his finest moment in terms of composition, but it’s the first song I start to hum whenever I hear his name, and it’s a salty antidote to all those renditions of the saccharine ‘Imagine’ you’ll be hearing today. It’s also, given the way the Irish government so punitively punished the Irish people yesterday for the sins of a gilded circle of fools, charlatans and white collar thieves, a timely blast of cold, quiet rage. Roll it there, Collette …

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Jane Casey

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?
Margery Allingham’s THE TIGER IN THE SMOKE. It’s very old-fashioned but quite brilliant – a hunt for a vicious killer through foggy post-war London, peopled with maimed survivors of the conflict. You have to read it in one sitting. The tension is almost unbearable.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Dorothy L. Sayers’ Harriet Vane (without having to stand trial for murder, preferably).

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Young adult fiction. I used to work as a commissioning editor in children’s publishing and I’m proud of buying a few YA books that did very nicely. I missed out on a few that I regret to this day! I love how intense teenagers are about their lives and relationships; YA fiction is just brilliant when it’s done well. I still won’t read it in public, though.

Most satisfying writing moment?
Finishing my second book, THE BURNING. I was on the phone to my editor while sitting on the floor of my living room, typing with one hand and trying to distract my then seven-month-old son with the other. The last-minute changes were nail-biting but necessary, and clicking on ‘save’ was a beautiful moment.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
I love John Banville’s Benjamin Black novels – CHRISTINE FALLS, if I must pick.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Stuart Neville’s THE TWELVE. All those ghosts are crying out to be put on film.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The best thing is spending your working life in a world of your own creation, with characters that you love. The worst thing is that your working life is your life. I don’t know how to switch off that part of my brain so I never truly relax, even between books. But I’d be lying if I said I hated that.

The pitch for your next book is …?
DC Maeve Kerrigan returns to hunt for a killer preying on convicted paedophiles.

Who are you reading right now?
I’m re-reading THE MURDER FARM by a German writer, Andrea Maria Schenkel. It’s very short, very assured, utterly compelling and original. It was her first book, which is just extraordinary.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Read. I would get bored with only my own thoughts and ideas to entertain me. And I could always think about what I’d write if I was allowed. I had my first novel in my head for about two years before I ever typed a sentence, so I’m used to it!

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Dark and light.

Jane Casey’s THE BURNING is published by Ebury Press.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: HARBOUR by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Sweden’s Roslagen archipelago is home to almost 13,000 islands, but John Ajvide Lindqvist has added another, the isle of Domarö being a fictional setting for the second follow-up to his debut, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. That novel, a tale of vampirism imbued with a gritty social realism, established Lindqvist’s international reputation, and HARBOUR too boasts a strong supernatural element.
  The story opens with married couple Anders and Cecilia trudging across a frozen bay with their young daughter Maja to visit the lighthouse at Gåvesten. An idyllic scene, it quickly turns to creeping horror when Maja simply disappears, leaving no trace her going on the pristine, snow-covered ice. What is truly horrifying to Anders, however, is that while Maja’s disappearance into thin air is certainly unusual, it’s not the first time the locals have experienced this kind of event. What monstrous presence lurks beneath the cold seas of the Roslagen archipelago?
  Anders’ search for his daughter and his attempt to come to terms with his loss serves as only one strand of Lindqvist’s epic, sprawling account of an island possessed by demons of its own conjuring. The 515-page novel teems with vividly drawn characters, chief among them Anders’ grandparents, Simon and Anna-Greta, both of whom have supernatural secrets that they conceal not only from Anders and the island’s population at large, but from one another. As was the case with LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, however, Lindqvist goes obliquely at the story’s heart of darkness. For the first third of the novel, HARBOUR resembles nothing less than a Swedish version of the magic realism we tend to associate more with Latin American authors, with only the vaguest intimations of the more conventional brand of horror writing to come.
  Indeed, for long stretches Lindqvist simply concentrates on amplifying an entirely mundane but compelling terror, that of every parent’s worst nightmare, the child that disappears with no hint as whether he or she is dead or alive, safe or in danger. Meanwhile, the question the reader is left to answer is whether the emotionally fragile Anders, perpetually drunk and understandably prone to grasping at straws, is imagining that his daughter his calling to him to come rescue her, or if it’s all a figment of his deranged imagination.
  Once the story hits its stride, however, Lindqvist fully embraces the supernatural elements that dominate the latter two-thirds of the novel. It’s then that his painstaking work in setting up the characters of Anders, Simon and Anna-Greta pays off. Rooted in a contemporary reality, and entirely empathetic in atmosphere and characterisation, the tale has earned its right to its flights of fancy, which include magic, ghostly hauntings and possession, and ultimately the emergence of an impossibly powerful evil from the black depths of the sea itself.
  Perversely, given the shocking nature of the story, Lindqvist (translated from the original Swedish by Marlaine Delargy) writes in a quietly refined baroque style, sketching in elegant little flourishes when describing the landscape and the quirks and foibles of his protagonists. It’s no coincidence that the text, which is shot through with a poetic black humour, is littered with quotes from The Smiths (the title of Lindqvist’s debut, incidentally, was adapted from a Smiths’ lyric). It all makes for a fascinating blend, as if Stephen King had tried his hand at redrafting an outlandish fable by Borges.
  As much a historical epic and contemporary myth as it is a horror story, HARBOUR is above all an engrossing novel that consolidates and enhances Lindqvist’s reputation. - Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Sunday Business Post

Sunday, December 5, 2010

DAMN NEAR DEAD 2: David Thompson Lives On

The late and very much lamented David Thompson casts a long shadow over DAMN NEAR DEAD 2, the collection of ‘geezer noir’ stories which was published by Busted Flush on November 30th. I haven’t seen a copy yet, but it’s a hell of a line-up: CJ Box, Joe Lansdale, Ed Gorman, Marcia Muller, Christa Faust, SJ Rozan, Don Winslow, Denise Mina, Bill Pronzini and Cornelia Read all make a contribution, along with many more, one of whom is your humble host. Bill Crider is the editor, and the final package was put together in the wake of David’s death, which makes it a rather poignant collection. The last I heard, authors’ fees and all proceeds were to be donated to a fund designed to commemorate David’s massive contribution to crime fiction, although I’ve been out of the loop for the last couple of months, so maybe those plans have changed. Either way, it looks like a terrific compilation, so congrats to all involved in making it happen and bringing David’s project to fruition. Meanwhile, if you fancy nabbing a copy for a Christmas gift for the crime fan in your family, all the details can be found here