“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, February 4, 2011

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: ALL HE SAW WAS THE GIRL by Peter Leonard

American students in Rome, McCabe and Chip - the latter the son of a prominent US senator - embark on a drunken prank one night when they hijack a taxi. Thrown in prison to await trial, the pair are separated, and McCabe locks horns with gang member Mazara. When McCabe and Chip are finally released, after Chip’s father pulls some strings, a photograph published in a local newspaper confuses their names under their photograph. Shortly afterwards, McCabe meets the beautiful Angela when he foils an attempt to mug her; capitalising on his opportunity, and hoping to score a date, McCabe is drawn into a sting in which, mistaken for Chip, he is kidnapped by Mazara’s gang. Released when the ransom is paid, McCabe decides to track down the kidnappers and have the ransom repaid.
  Meanwhile, in Detroit, Sharon’s marriage to Ray is falling apart, mostly because Ray, a Secret Service agent, spends much of his time on the road. Embarking on an affair with the flamboyant Joey Palermo, Sharon finds herself swept off her feet. When Ray arrives home after being sacked from the Secret Service, he discovers that Sharon is missing. Setting out to track her down, Ray discovers that Joey Palermo is a Mafia mobster, who has suddenly departed the country for Rome.
  The various storylines converge in Rome, as Joey Palermo, nephew to Rome’s Mr Mafia, muscles in on Mazara’s gang, just as McCabe kidnaps Angela in order to retrieve the ransom that was paid for his release. Meanwhile, Ray is hot on the trail of Sharon, who will lead him directly to Joey …
  ALL HE SAW WAS THE GIRL is Peter Leonard’s third novel, following QUIVER (2008) and TRUST ME (2009). He is the son of legendary crime writer Elmore Leonard, and it’s fair to say that ALL HE SAW WAS THE GIRL has all the hallmarks of a Leonard novel. The multi-character narrative, the dry and blackly whimsical humour, the unfussy use of American vernacular, the ordinary man underestimated by the criminal fraternity who proves himself a resolute hero.
  The two main characters in the novel are very likeable. McCabe is an ordinary guy thrust into extraordinary circumstances, and it’s refreshing to read a lead protagonist in a crime novel who isn’t a swaggering, bullet-proof hero with limitless resources of strength, courage, intellect, etc. Having said that, his decision to pursue his kidnappers with the aim of retrieving the ransom posed some problems for me, especially as he’s a stranger in a strange land. Leonard never really explains McCabe’s motive for doing so, other than to suggest that his personal principles are insulted by the notion that someone else’s money was paid for his release. It’s difficult to believe that a young American in his early ’20s would make that decision, to go up against what might as well be a Mafia gang on their own turf; and, as that decision propels the story forward from that point onwards, there’s always a question mark hanging over the authenticity of the story and McCabe himself.
  Ray, meanwhile, is another likeable character: a taciturn Everyman with the kind of resources that the conventional crime novel hero tends to have, even if he very rarely employs them. My problem with Ray, however, is that he is very reminiscent of a number of Elmore Leonard’s cop characters - Elmore Leonard has created a number of characters called Ray - and that Peter Leonard’s Ray comes across as a facsimile of more sharply drawn and interesting Rays from his father’s oeuvre.
  The novel has a cracking pace, which benefits from Leonard’s cross-cutting between characters, particularly as the story gains momentum. It’s particularly pleasing that Leonard tells his story in such a relaxed and deadpan fashion, so that the reader is never really aware of how quickly events are moving.
  That said, the rapid pace requires some considerable suspension of disbelief. The most notable example comes when McCabe and Angela, two hard-headed and pragmatic characters, fall in love almost overnight, this despite the fact that Angela is the daughter of a Mafia don, and McCabe has kidnapped her. Angela isn’t even in McCabe’s company long enough for Stockholm syndrome to set in; the plot requires them to establish an unbreakable bond, and so they declare themselves mutually infatuated. Given that Leonard almost entirely eschews melodramatic twists and turns, this moment stands out as a glaring anomaly.
  The style of the novel is equally pleasing. As with his father, Peter Leonard is a devout disciple of the ‘show, don’t tell’ school of storytelling, and he employs language designed to tell the story in as simple and straightforward a fashion as possible. Despite doing so, he’s also adept at inserting telling descriptive phrases, and does a very nice job of evoking both the busy streets and architecture of Rome, as well as the quieter rural hinterland where much of the latter stages of the novel plays out.
  On the downside, it has to be said that the novel lacks heft. It’s a relatively short novel at 292 pages, but brevity doesn’t necessarily mean that a novel will lack depth. While Leonard creates characters that are entertaining in themselves, and in their interaction with other characters, it’s difficult for the reader to get a good feel for them - there’s a sense that the characters do no more, and are no more, than the plot requires of them. That’s not to say that a character should necessarily come laden down with bags of backstory funnelled into the story for the sake of it; but each should have depth and breadth, and particularly in a story such as ALL HE SAW WAS THE GIRL, which is to all intents and purposes a crime comedy caper, a sense that they have an existence beyond the parameters of the novel, that the story we’re reading is an anomaly in their lives.
  Leonard, aiming to write a novel that tells the story with the bare minimum of words, achieves his goal and does it with style and wit; by the same token, I was always aware that I was reading a novel in which one obstacle after another is contrived and placed in the protagonists’ way. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; for example, Carl Hiaasen’s comedy crime capers are excellent examples of archly contrived parodies of the genre. Leonard appears to fall between two stools, however; this novel arches a knowing eyebrow at the conventions of the comedy crime novel without fully delivering on that kind of novel’s inherent absurdities; meanwhile, his characters, and particularly those regarded as the bad guys, lack the banal evil so brilliantly evoked by Elmore Leonard.
  I probably sound a lot harsher on ALL HE SAW WAS THE GIRL than I mean to be; for all my criticisms (and constantly comparing Peter Leonard to his father is as odious as comparison gets), I enjoyed the novel as a light, breezy take on the comedy crime caper, particularly given its neatly evoked setting of Rome and its environs. So far, Peter Leonard has written three standalone novels, but if he were to write another featuring McCabe, I’d be sufficiently interested in McCabe as a character to investigate further.
  Would I recommend this novel? I think that any crime fiction fan who hasn’t read an Elmore Leonard novel will thoroughly enjoy it; it’s fun, it’s fast, it’s rooted in an enjoyably exotic setting. As for the other side of that recommendation, that ALL HE SAW WAS THE GIRL lacks the heft of an Elmore Leonard novel, well, it’s probably fair to say that there are very few living writers who can match Elmore Leonard. - Declan Burke

Thursday, February 3, 2011

If You’re Into Evil You’re A Friend Of Mine

It’s shaping up to be a very interesting year for John Connolly, aka The Dark Lord, aka The One-Man Publishing Industry. First off, he publishes HELL’S BELLS, the YA novel sequel to THE GATES, which latter is as charming a slice of understated black comedy as you’re likely to read. Quoth the blurb elves:
Samuel Johnson – with a little help from his dachshund Boswell and a very unlucky demon named Nurd – has sent the demons back to Hell. But the diabolical Mrs Abernathy is not one to take defeat lying down. When she reopens the portal and sucks Samuel and Boswell down into the underworld, she brings an ice-cream van full of dwarfs as well. And two policemen. Can this eccentric gang defeat the forces of Evil? And is there life after Hell for Nurd?
  Well, you’d have to say it’d be desperately unfair to tease us with the return of Nurd, and then not feature him at all in the novel, and potentially scarring for young readers to allow the forces of Evil to prevail. So, on balance, my answer to both questions is a cautious yes. The Big Q: will the novel feature any AC/DC lyrics? Only time, that perfidiously gravel-throated canary, will tell …
  Meanwhile, Connolly also publishes the latest Charlie Parker novel later this year, THE BURNING SOUL. To wit:
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 . . .
  Yup, looking forward to that one too. Finally, Connolly’s superb THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS goes into mass paperback on August 30th, complete with spiffing new artwork that gives the novel an entirely appropriate retro look. It’s fiendishly difficult to come by the time for re-reads these days, but the publication of this one is as good an excuse as I’ll ever need. For those of you unfamiliar with the novel, the gist runneth thusly:
“Everything You Can Imagine is Real …” High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the loss of his mother. He is angry and he is alone, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness, and as he takes refuge in the myths and fairytales so beloved of his dead mother he finds that the real world and the fantasy world have begun to meld. The Crooked Man has come, with his mocking smile and his enigmatic words: ‘Welcome, your majesty. All hail the new king.’ And as war rages across Europe, David is violently propelled into a land that is both a construct of his imagination yet frighteningly real, a strange reflection of his own world composed of myths and stories, populated by wolves and worse-than-wolves, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a legendary book . . .
  If you haven’t read THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS already, I can only envy you the experience of reading it new …

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Baby Killers: Good Times For A Change

Good times for a change / See, the luck I’ve had / Can make a good man turn bad …” I don’t invoke those mopey depressmeisters The Smiths very often on these pages, but believe it or not, it is, and for once, good times and good news at Crime Always Pays. As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, I’ve been struggling for quite a while now to get my latest opus, THE BABY KILLERS, aka BAD FOR GOOD, published. There have been ups and downs along the way, and many pleasant rejection letters to peruse, and much by way of support from those of you who wander by here once in a while; indeed, there was much love last year for my proposal to self-publish the book via ‘crowd-sourcing’, with all (any) profits being donated to charity.
  But lo! It has come to pass that a small but perfectly formed Irish publisher has made an offer to publish THE BABY KILLERS. The deal proposed is also small but perfectly formed, to the extent that it’s fair to say that my plan of buying a Greek island will have to be deferred until the publication of my next book, at the very least. I do like the publishing model, though. It’s based on small print runs, firm sales (i.e., no sale-or-return), and a commitment to no-frills publishing of quality, quirky books for readers with an appetite for books that don’t necessarily conform to mainstream publishing’s idea of a commercial prospect. All of which is music to my ears.
  Now, the deal wouldn’t necessarily appeal to every writer. For one, there’s no advance involved, which effectively means that I’m giving away my book for free. Given that I was planning to self-publish it anyway, that’s not an issue for me; far better that the book, which was gathering dust on the shelf, be published without earning an advance than not published at all, or cost me to publish, particularly in these straitened times. It also removes the pressure of earning out the advance, and / or feeling indebted to a publisher.
  In effect, the deal will accomplish everything I wanted to achieve through self-publishing, with many added benefits, the most important of which are that the publisher already has a good reputation for publishing interesting books, and that the publisher also absorbs the cost of publication, and provides the distribution and - crucially - the experience.
  For my own part, I get to see a beautifully produced (if the publisher’s previous offerings are anything to go by) book of mine on the shelf, and to feel a little less of a charlatan when I mumble that I’m a writer in my spare time. Equally important, I get to fulfil that commitment I made to the Three Regular Readers last year, of donating all royalties from the book’s publication to charity. Given the content of the book, and the fact that the story revolves around a sociopathic hospital porter’s plot to blow up the hospital where he works, the charity to benefit will mostly likely be that of a children’s wing of a local hospital.
  So that’s it in a nutshell. Contracts have yet to be issued and details formalised, so it’s only fair that I mention no names as of yet. I have to say, though, that I’m hugely energised right now, enthusiastic and upbeat. Suddenly, naively, everything seems possible again.
  The early word, in terms of blurbs at least, has been good. To wit:
“A genuinely original take on noir, inventive and funny. Imagine, if you can, a cross between Flann O’Brien and Raymond Chandler.” – John Banville, author of THE SEA

“If you want to find something new and challenging, comic crime fiction is now the place to go … Declan Burke [is] at the vanguard of a new wave of young writers kicking against the clich├ęs and producing ambitious, challenging, genre-bending works.” Colin Bateman, author of THE DAY OF THE JACK RUSSELL

“THE BABY KILLERS 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, author of AMERICAN SKIN

“Burke has written a deep, lyrical and moving crime novel … an intoxicating and exciting novel of which the master himself, Flann O’Brien, would be proud.” – Adrian McKinty, author FIFTY GRAND

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

“THE BABY KILLERS is shockingly original and completely entertaining. Post-modern crime fiction at its very best.” – John McFetridge, author of EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE

“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, author of THE ICE HARVEST
  So there you have it. The plan is to publish THE BABY KILLERS later this year, with attendant trumpet blasts and the strewing of garlands. In the meantime, and if the spirit so moves you, feel free to pre-order a copy by leaving your name and a contact email address (using (at) rather than @ to confound the spam monkeys) in the comment box below.
  Finally, and at the risk of sounding mawkish, I’d like to thank everyone who has ever expressed an interest in this book. It’s people like you who make all the difference, who give writers like me that most elusive and precious of all commodities in this writing game - hope. God bless you, every one.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Doing His Eoin Thing

I had a pretty good month last November, when I met and interviewed both Eoin McNamee (right) and James Ellroy, whom I regard as two of the finest living writers we have. The Eoin McNamee interview ran a lot like this:

I THINK THAT THIS is where noir fiction has its universal appeal, if you take that sort of Calvinist ideal of predestination. But if the judge is corrupt, if the person who is controlling the predestination is corrupt, then where do you go in the universe?”
  It’s no easy thing to interview Eoin McNamee. The Down-born author of ORCHID BLUE, which was published late last year and was by some distance the finest Irish novel of the year, is by turns painfully self-effacing and given to profound pronunciations on the business of writing. He laughs a lot too, and defensively, as if concerned you might think he takes himself too seriously. What’s certain, though, is that he’s deadly serious about the business of writing.
  ORCHID BLUE is a novel rooted in the real life murder of Pearl Gamble, who was stabbed to death in Newry in 1961. The man convicted of her murder, Robert McGladdery, was the last man to be hanged on Irish soil. But for McNamee, who has forged a career from writing novels based on historical facts, such as the Shankhill Butchers, the slaughter of the Miami Showband, and the death of Princess Diana, the conviction of McGladdery remains a dubious one.
  “Well, the obvious link is Lance Curran,” says McNamee of his fascination with Pearl Gamble story, “who was connected to both cases - Curran’s daughter was murdered in the first case, which I wrote about in THE BLUE TANGO, and he tried Robert McGladdery for the murder of Pearl Gamble. I was researching the case in the newspaper archive in Belfast, and at this stage I hadn’t read Curran’s charge to the jury. But when I read it, as I describe it in the book, his summoning up was almost icily correct. At the time it was considered fair, but I suspect that it was to cut off every possible avenue of an appeal. I just felt a cold hand on the back of my neck, the way Judge Curran, with malice I thought, summed up the facts of McGladdery’s case. And that was pretty much the starting point.”
  The novel, despite the fact that its ending is a matter of historical record, is a compelling page-turner of a thriller that evokes the atmosphere of its time and place with a dense but spare poetic style. McNamee has often been compared to James Ellroy and David Peace, two writers who also base their novels in historical fact, and he cites the infamous Black Dahlia case, upon which Ellroy based a novel, twice in ORCHID BLUE. Does he feel a sense of kinship with his fellow writers?
  “I’d have come across the Black Dahlia case ever before I heard of James Ellroy,” he says, “so I’d certainly appreciate where they’re both coming from, but I was well set on my own path ever before I came across them. I suppose there is a sense of kinship, in the kind of stories we tell, the style of the writing, but it’d be very easy to fall into the trap of writing a sub-James Ellroy or sub-David Peace kind of writing. When I first read Ellroy and Peace I was thrilled, of course, but on their own terms as writers, not for any other reason.”
  McNamee is a more formal and elegant writer than Ellroy or Peace, and his novels straddle the literary and crime genres. Despite the crime elements in his stories, however, McNamee’s novels offer a more profound experience than crime novels tend to do.
  “Well, as you know yourself,” he says, “a lot of the genre crime stuff is written to entertain and not much else. But I’ve spoken before, I’ve used the phrase, about the novel being an attempt to apprehend the transcendent. And that’s a different kind of book entirely.”
  Is there a danger, when writing novels rooted in historical fact, and given the benefits of hindsight, that the fictional aspect spills over into editorialising?
  “That’s always possible,” he says, “but [ORCHID BLUE] is a 21st century novel. Obviously it’s about a story that took place 50 years ago, but in its structure and conception, it’s a 21st century novel. Certainly you’re putting things in there that may or may not have been there at the time, but it’s not verisimilitude, you’re not trying to write a historical novel.
  “I suppose the thing is, you’re looking at people and the way they behaved within the boundaries that they knew, those of their time. You do have that particular framework. But justice, the concept of it, hasn’t changed since Plato’s time. And I was writing about corruption rather than justice, how people can act on these kind of absolutes when they’ve already been corrupted themselves.”
  Does he owe a debt to the real-life characters he writes about?
  “You’re always walking a moral tightrope,” he agrees, “to a certain extent. Looking back it seems quite easy, the story is what it is. But when you start talking about historical fact, you’re not really talking about the facts at all, you’re talking about the historical record. And that’s a different thing entirely to what the facts were.
  “So you are making judgements all the time, asking yourself where you should take it, wondering if you’ve taken it over the line. But it’s an artistic line you don’t want to cross, if I can put it that way. If you get it wrong in the moral sense, then you get it wrong. But I’m a writer, not a priest. And as a writer, you answer to the god of fiction.”

  Eoin McNamee’s ORCHID BLUE is published by Faber and Faber.

  This interview was first published in the Evening Herald.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: THE INVENTION OF MURDER by Judith Flanders

Cain invented murder, of course, but Judith Flanders’ splendidly lurid title is entirely appropriate. What makes THE INVENTION OF MURDER: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime a compelling read is not the grisly murders Flanders documents in such meticulous detail, but the grotesque appetite the Victorians developed for fresh blood.
  This is Flanders’ fourth book on Victorian society, and the pages teem not only with black-hearted murderers, devious poisoners and outrageous miscarriages of justice, but also with the minutiae of day-to-day Victorian life. Thus the book is not simply a list of the most famous murders of the period (John Thurtell, Burke and Hare, Jack the Ripper) but also provides a comprehensive dissection of Victorian society, and particularly its evolving understanding of crime, class, justice and policing.
  Flanders’ theme, however, is the representation of murder. She quotes, approvingly, Thomas de Quincey’s ironic commentary on the public appetite for gore in her opening chapter, ‘Imagining Murder’: “‘Pleasant it is, no doubt, to drink tea with your sweetheart, but most disagreeable to find her bubbling in the tea-urn.’ … But even more pleasant, he thought, was to read about someone else’s sweetheart bubbling in the tea urn … for crime, especially murder, is very pleasant to think about in the abstract …”
  There are no cases documented here of sweethearts bubbling in tea urns, but it wasn’t for a lack of imagination on the part of the Victorian chroniclers of crime. The first major case Flanders deals with is that of John Thurtell, a decadent playboy who murdered his associate Joseph Weare over a gambling debt in 1823. Thurtell was no criminal mastermind, and the evidence against him amounted to a cut-and-dried case, but what is shocking to the modern mind is the extent to which the media was allowed to comment on the case. Flanders is excellent on the development of ‘broadsides’, cheap pamphlets hawked on street corners for the delectation of a blood-thirsty working-class. But even the most prestigious of the era’s newspapers were happy to print the kind of unfounded allegations and prejudicial rumours that today would have seen Thurtell walk away from court a free man, unable to obtain a fair trial.
  Thurtell’s guilt might have been plain for all to see, but where Flanders excels is in her excavation of cases in which conviction (and the almost inevitable public execution) were preordained, regardless of the evidence. Eliza Fenning, a servant girl who was accused of attempted murder by poisoning in 1815, is probably the best example. “Her terrible story was inextricably bound up with class anxiety, with fear of the mob, with hierarchy and social structure,” writes Flanders. Fenning, who was undoubtedly innocent of the charge of attempted murder, was convicted on a mish-mash of hearsay and confused testimony, a victim of paranoia and prejudice. Flanders’ account of the tawdry episode is a superb example of the complex interplay of forces - rudimentary policing, social change, a system of justice in dire need of transparency and accountability - which doomed many of those who appeared before men who prided themselves on their reputation as ‘hanging judges’.
  Fenning became notorious after the event, the subject of ‘broadsides’, acres of newspaper print and theatrical productions. In fact, if there’s a caveat to this book, it’s one of repetition: determined to explore each case to its fullest extent, Flanders is meticulous in exhaustively detailing the consequences of each case. Her devotion to her subject cannot be faulted, but once the pattern is established (murder, trial, representations in various media), the reader may well find him or herself skipping whole chunks of Flanders’ research.
  Curiously, the real murder rate was relatively low. In 1810, for example, the murder rate in Britain was 0.15 per 100,000 people; for comparative purposes, the murder rate in Canada in 2007-2008 was 0.5 per 100,000. Nonetheless, crime-influenced theatre was massively popular for the Victorians: “in 1866 there were 51,363 nightly seats in twenty-five London theatres,” Flanders writes, a figure which only applies to legitimate theatre. Queen Victoria herself attended a production of Dion Boucicault’s ‘The Colleen Bawn’ three times in one fortnight.
  The evolution of policing from a rudimentary arrangement of nightwatchmen prowling a particular parish into a more sophisticated organisation devoted to detection as well as prevention provides Flanders with another sub-plot. That development is reflected in the embryonic crime novel, with Flanders crediting Charles Dickens as one of the genre’s early leading lights, alongside Wilkie Collins.
  By then the Victorian lust for blood, further sharpened by the likes of Conan Doyle’s fictional Sherlock Holmes, and the horrifyingly real crimes of Jack the Ripper, was firmly established, allowing Flanders to conclude thusly: “By the start of the new century, therefore, a love of blood could be indulged in safely and securely, without any fear of an ugly reality bursting in. Instead, oceans of blood could cheerfully be poured across the stage, across the page, in song and in sermon. Murder was, finally, an art.” - Declan Burke

  This review first appeared in the Sunday Business Post.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

TAKEN, Not Stirred

Niamh O’Connor’s TAKEN, the follow-up to her debut IF I NEVER SEE YOU AGAIN, isn’t out until May, but already I’m feeling a tad queasy. I know I’m supposed to be a hard-boiled crime writer and all the rest of it, but stories about abducted kids send me weak in the guts these days. That said, TAKEN should make for a rollicking read. Quoth the blurb elves:
It’s a cold wet winter night when a car pulls into a service station on Dublin quays. Strapped on to the back-seat is a three-year-old boy. Asleep. Five minutes later he’s gone – kidnapped in the time it’s taken his mother to pay for her petrol. Distraught and fearing for his safety, she has only one option. DI Jo Birmingham. One of the few female senior officers on the Dublin police force, Jo has a keen reputation for solving crimes and righting wrongs. Her search for the little boy takes her into a dark world of lies and corruption, where hard cash is king, where sex is a commodity to be bought and sold – and where the lost and vulnerable are in terrifying danger …
  She’s done very nicely for herself, has Niamh O’Connor, since the publication of her debut. The quote adorning the cover of TAKEN is from Tess Gerritsen, and suggests that Ms Gerritsen is well impressed: “Gripping, terrifying … If you like Martina Cole, you’ll love this.” Very nice indeed …
  Actually, it’s shaping up to be an interesting year of offerings from the ladies of Irish crime writing. Casey Hill’s TABOO is a debut courtesy of husband-and-wife writing team Melissa Casey and Kevin Hill, and is either available now or coming in July, depending on what interweb source you prefer. Ava McCarthy returns to the fray with her third thriller, THE DEALER, in October; Tana French’s BROKEN HARBOUR will be with us in August; Jane Casey’s third offering, THE RECKONING, will be thumping down on a bookshelf near you in July; and - intriguingly - Arlene Hunt leaves QuicK Investigations behind to present us with a standalone novel, which is currently rejoicing in the working title of FAIR GAME and is set in the US.
  I kid you not, folks, it’s a marvellous time to be writing about Irish crime fiction …