Barring unforeseen disaster, at some point today, or more probably tomorrow, Crime Always Pays will pass the 400,000 hits mark, and begin its Sisyphean journey towards the magical half-million. A rather small hill of beans, I know, in the grander scheme of things, and I’d trade them all for a milking cow, or a beanstalk, or even a flunky called Jack who might wander forth and bring home a goose that lays golden eggs. Or even one golden egg. Or just an egg.
Anyway, I wanted to mark the moment not to blow any trumpets (although I might let loose with a kazoo-parp as the hit-counter ticks past the mark), but to celebrate the blog and what - or who, more importantly - it represents. When it all kicked off about four and a half years ago, Irish crime writing was still very much a niche-niche genre - to be honest, I thought I’d be lucky if I found myself talking about twenty or so writers, past and present. As it happened, I was extraordinarily lucky, in that I started CAP (to plug THE BIG O, at the time) just as Irish writers started churning out top quality crime fiction in astonishing quantity and quality. I was also very lucky in that some of the top Irish writers at the time - in particular John Connolly and Ken Bruen - were more than happy to play along, and lend their considerable reputations to the gig by taking part in various blog posts I suggested; as a result, CAP was picked up by a whole host of like-minded people in the wider crime writing and reading community, and we were off and running.
Four and a half years later, there’s been a lot of highs and lows. As all Three Regular Readers (who were obviously very busy hitting the repeat button) will already know, I’ve downed tools on CAP on a couple of occasions, unable to keep up with various other demands, most of them related to labour that pays in more than love. Mostly, though, it’s been highs. For starters, and probably most importantly, I’ve met so many terrific people through CAP that I really couldn’t start to count them, and some of my best friends these days originated on these pages. When all is said and done, and in accepting that we’re all here because we love books, these are the things that truly matter.
Other personal highs include seeing THE BIG O get published in the US, not least because so many people were good enough to play their part in creating a word-of-mouth buzz that eventually proved irresistible; the publication of DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS, which was a direct and logical follow-on from CAP; and seeing ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL finally emerge from its purgatory to sit on a shelf as an actual book, having first debuted in public on these pages and received such strong support and goodwill that it would have been churlish not to pursue its publication to the bitter end.
There’s also the fact that CAP has - by default, almost - put me in a position whereby I tend to catch new Irish crime writers at an early stage, and thus get that wonderful buzz of ‘discovering’ new writers, a buzz that’s only really matched by the thrill of being able to let the world at large know about the latest sensation that’s on its way.
It’s a total coincidence, of course, but a timely one, that the 400,000 hits mark will be passed this week, and very probably on the day I fly out to New York in the company of some very fine Irish crime writers - Colin Bateman, Arlene Hunt, Declan Hughes, Alex Barclay - for a symposium on Irish crime fiction to be hosted by Ireland House at NYU, which will also be attended by John Connolly and Stuart Neville, who are currently at large in the US and very probably terrorising unsuspecting bystanders. Very nice it’ll be too to spend a weekend in such august company, especially for the purpose of bigging up the Irish crime novel in general and specifically DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS; and particularly as it was a Dublin dinner in the company of two men, John Waters and Joe Long, when I first got the glimmer of the idea that became GREEN STREETS. All kinds of synchronicity, then, will be sparking in New York this weekend; if you’re going to be in the vicinity, feel free to drop by and say hi. All the details can be found here …
Finally, I’m going to mark the 400,000 mark with a very humble offering, being a threefer of signed copies of EIGHTBALL BOOGIE, THE BIG O and ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL to the person who drops a comment in the box closest to the ticking-over moment. If, as is highly unlikely, it appears that there’s something of a tie, I’ll put the names in a hat and draw the winner.
Until then, I thank you all for your support, kindness and encouragement over the last four and a half years, and here’s to another four and a half years to come …
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “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.