“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.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Emerald Noir: The Purple Patch

As in sport, where you’re only as good as your last game, so it runs in books: every book needs to be judged on its own merits. That said, and staying with the sporting clichés, form is temporary but class is permanent. Which is a roundabout way of saying that the next couple of months should prove something of a purple patch for the Irish crime novel.
  For starters, John Connolly’s THE BURNING SOUL is published on September 1st, and at this stage you could pretty much stake the mortgage on Connolly providing one of the top quality private eye offerings of the year. Quoth the blurb elves:
Randall Haight has a secret: when he was a teenager, he and his friend killed a 14-year-old girl. Randall did his time and built a new life in the small Maine town of Pastor’s Bay, but somebody has discovered the truth about Randall. He is being tormented by anonymous messages, haunting reminders of his past crime, and he wants private detective Charlie Parker to make it stop. But another 14-year-old girl has gone missing, this time from Pastor’s Bay, and the missing girl’s family has its own secrets to protect. Now Parker must unravel a web of deceit involving the police, the FBI, a doomed mobster named Tommy Morris, and Randall Haight himself. Because Randall Haight is telling lies . . .
  A month later, Stuart Neville publishes his latest novel, STOLEN SOULS. A mere whippersnapper by the standards of John Connolly’s prodigious output, Neville’s third offering is rumoured - by Neville himself, as it happens - to be a more taut and streamlined affair that takes its cue from classic ’70s thrillers. To wit:
Detective Inspector Jack Lennon of the Belfast Police has watched the developing cooperation between Northern Ireland’s Loyalist gangs and immigrant Lithuanian criminals with unease. The Lithuanians traffic women from Eastern Europe and Asia for the Loyalists’ brothels, and they’re all making big money in spite of the recession that has stopped Northern Ireland’s peace boom in its tracks. Lennon has a more intimate knowledge of the city’s brothels than he’ll ever admit, but the surge in trafficked girls makes him question his lifestyle, especially considering he has his daughter, Ellen, to care for now. When a Lithuanian trafficker turns up dead on Christmas Eve with a shard of glass embedded in his throat, Lennon’s plans to spend the holiday with Ellen are put in jeopardy. The dead man was the younger brother of a ruthless Lithuanian crime boss, Arturas Strazdas, and the young Ukrainian woman who killed him has escaped her captors. Now Strazdas holds the Loyalists responsible and won’t let up until everyone involved has paid. A bloody gang war erupts across the city. Meanwhile, somewhere in Belfast, Galya, the Ukrainian girl, is running for her life, alone and scared, clinging to the darkest corners as the frozen streets empty for the holiday. Galya’s captors told her how the police deal with illegal immigrants, that she is a criminal in a foreign land, and the law will not help her. And now she is also a murderer. She cannot be discovered by anyone, not the cops, not the gang who held her prisoner. There is only one person she can go to: a man she met on her first day as a prostitute, a friend who gave her a crucifix and an address to run to if she ever got away. He’d saved four prostitutes before her, he’s told her, and she can be his fifth. But when Galya arrives at the address, she finds something more evil than she had ever imagined.
  Another third novel offering comes courtesy of Ava McCarthy, whose HIDE ME arrives towards the end of October, and features her series heroine, hacker specialist Harry Martinez, going undercover in the Basque region of Spain. Quoth the blurb elves:
Security expert Henrietta ‘Harry’ Martinez has arrived in beautiful San Sebastian, birthplace of her Spanish father. But she’s not here to explore her roots. She’s been hired by glamorous casino boss Riva Mills to expose a scamming crew, headed by ruthless conman Franco Chavez. When the crew’s expert hacker is brutally murdered, Harry goes undercover as his replacement. As she infiltrates the dangerous criminal organization, she begins to understand that Chavez’s schemes reach far beyond the casino sting. Suddenly trapped in a deadly global underworld that encompasses international terrorism, organized crime and drug cartels, Harry learns that when you play this game, you play for your life…
  Yet another third novel, BLOODLAND, arrives from Alan Glynn, again on September 1st - we can only hope that the Dark Lord Connolly doesn’t consign Glynn to some dank dungeon for his temerity. Coming in the wake of the critically-acclaimed WINTERLAND, and surfing the name recognition that comes with having your debut novel adapted into a movie starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, Glynn’s BLOODLAND sounds epic, with the blurb elves wittering thusly:
A tabloid star is killed in a helicopter crash and three years later a young journalist is warned off the story. A private security contractor loses it in the Congo, with deadly consequences. In Ireland an ex-prime minister struggles to contain a dark secret from his time in office. A dramatic news story breaks in Paris just as a US senator begins his campaign to run for office. With echoes of John Le Carré, 24 and James Ellroy, Alan Glynn’s follow-up to WINTERLAND is another crime novel of and for our times – a ferocious, paranoid thriller that moves from Dublin to New York via Central Africa, and thrillingly explores the legacy of corruption in big business, the West’s fear of China, the role of back room political players and the question of who controls what we know.
  Lastly, but by no means leastly, and as I mentioned last week, the inimitable Artist Formerly Known as Colin Bateman releases his NINE INCHES on an unsuspecting public in mid-October. Abandoning for the moment the less-than-intrepid Man With No Name hero of his recent post-modern series, Bateman returns to the iconic and only slightly more intrepid Dan Starkey, about whom the blurb elves have this to say:
Dan Starkey, the ducking and diving hapless investigator, takes centre stage again in this brilliant new novel by the master of comic crime. Radio shock-jock and self-styled people’s champion Jack Caramac is used to courting controversy - but when his four-year-old son is kidnapped for just one hour, and then sent back with a warning note, he knows he may have finally gone too far. Jack has no choice but to turn to Dan Starkey for help. Recently chucked by his long-suffering wife Patricia, Dan has finally given up on journalism and is now providing a boutique, bespoke service for important people with difficult problems. Dan resolves to catch whoever kidnapped Jack’s son - and very soon finds himself in the middle of a violent feud between rival drug gangs, pursued by jealous husbands, unscrupulous property developers and vicious killers as the case spirals ever more out of his control ...
  So there you have it: private eye novels, rollicking thrillers, conspiracy epics, and comedy thrills ‘n’ spills. Buckle up, folks, it could be a bumpy ride …

1 comment:

Michael Malone said...

YAY - lots of good stuff here!