The Irish Times was kind enough, yesterday, to run an excerpt from John Connolly’s (right) contribution to DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21st CENTURY. Taken from his wide-ranging essay, ‘No Blacks, No Dogs, No Crime Writers: Ireland and the Mystery Genre’, Connolly examines the reasons why Ireland was not fertile ground for the crime novel until very recently, suggesting here that ‘… the private eye novel has struggled to make a successful case for itself in the UK.’ He then goes on to say:
“While that may be due, to some degree, to the sense that gun-toting PIs don’t travel well across the Atlantic, I would suggest that it is also a consequence of a deeply held belief that the pursuit of justice is one best entrusted to the police, and an absence of the frontier spirit of the United States that places such a premium on independence and individual action.For the rest of the excerpt, clickety-click here …
“That belief may be shaken by reports of real life police corruption, brutality, and incompetence, but it seems such revelations may simply cause readers to turn to the more idealised police officers of crime fiction with renewed vigour.
“After all, crime fiction is less about the world as it is than the world as it should be. As William Gaddis wrote in his novel JR (1976): “Justice? – you get justice in the next world, in this world, you have the law.”
“Crime fiction refuses to accept that this should be the case, and in doing so it reflects the desire of its readers for a more just society. Even at its darkest it is, essentially, hopeful by nature.
“All of which brings us back to Ireland, and the question of which of these two opposing outlooks might best have suited an Irish crime novel. The answer, I think, is neither: the Irish police had yet to establish themselves in the mind of the populace, and after centuries of British rule our faith in the Establishment and its values was minimal.
“If we accept the view that crime fiction is not merely engaged with the society from which it comes but is representative of it, then the nascent Irish Republic – secretive, defensive, intensely parochial, and unforgiving of its critics – gave Irish crime fiction little with which to work.” - John Connolly
Meanwhile, Shane Hegarty, Arts Editor at the Irish Times, was good enough to invite me to take part in that organ’s weekly podcast, along with Sinead Gleeson and Mick Heaney, to talk about the issues bedevilling the literary novel, and provide me with the opportunity to plug GREEN STREETS, and great fun it was too. For the audio, clickety-click here …
Elsewhere, Michael Shonk was quickly out of the blocks to review GREEN STREETS for The Mystery Reader. Quoth Michael:
“Aimed at the casual reader and the devoted fan, there is much for all to enjoy. This is not a book you read in one night unable to stop, though it is about such books. Instead this is a book to savour slowly, a chapter at a time.” - Michael ShonkWe thank you kindly, sir. For the rest, clickety-click here …