“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, August 26, 2011

If We Can Make It There, Etc.

There’s a rather interesting event planned for September 24th at Glucksman Ireland House at New York University, titled ‘Down These Green Streets: Irish Crime Fiction’. Unsurprisingly, it features a number of Irish crime writers, and is tied in with the publication of DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS, and is ‘presented as part of Imagine Ireland, a year-long season of contemporary Irish arts in the US in 2011, an initiative of Culture Ireland’. Quoth the blurb elves:
There’s been a major crimewave in Ireland – come get to the bottom of it on this day-long investigation of the crime fiction genre that has exploded in Ireland in the last fifteen years.
  Seven leading practitioners of Green Noir will visit Glucksman Ireland House at New York University to discuss the angles and the clues, the plots and counterplots, the dark journeys and the struggles for the truth that energize some of the most exciting writing coming out of contemporary Ireland.
  John Connolly, Declan Burke, Stuart Neville, Arlene Hunt, Declan Hughes, Alex Barclay and Colin Bateman will join Professor Ian Campbell Ross and several special guests from among Irish America’s great crime writers.
  Several new books will be launched, including DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS, edited by Declan Burke; the new Charlie Parker mystery by John Connolly; the third volume of Stuart Neville’s award-winning Belfast trilogy; and new books by Declan Burke and Colin Bateman.
 
  For all the details, and how to book tickets, clickety-click here ...
  As you can probably imagine, I’m looking forward to this like a Puerto Rican kid to the World Series. Actually, I might even try to get a ball game in while I’m in New York. I’d say Yankees tickets are tough to come by; anyone recommend the Mets?
  The downside to the NY trip is that it means I won’t be able to make Bouchercon in St. Louis, which takes place the weekend previously, and even though I’d already booked my place. Boo, etc. How and ever, and due to the good works of one Erin Mitchell, and the magic of modern technology, it’s possible that I may well be able to ‘attend’ Bouchercon after all. I’ll keep you posted …
  Closer to home, there’s another intriguing series of events planned for the month of September by Dublin’s Central Library as part of the Dublin UNESCO City of Literature celebrations. The series is titled ‘Crime and the City: Crime and Drugs’, with the blurb elves wibbling thusly:
This is a series of lunchtime talks and readings looking at the broad issues of crime, drugs and crime writing in Dublin and beyond. This series of events brings together writers from fiction and biography with researchers from social sciences to inform, entertain and promote discussion. Events take place over the five Thursdays of September at 1pm in the Central Library, ILAC Centre, Dublin 1.
September 1st - Declan Burke - Crime Author

September 8th - Johnny Connolly - Criminologist

September 15th - John Lonergan - Former Prison Governor

September 22nd - Cormac Millar - Crime Author

September 29th - Paul O’Mahony - Criminologist
Admission is free but booking is advised as space is limited. To book a place at any of the events please contact the Central Library on 01 8734333.

  For all the Dublin / UNESCO details, clickety-click here
  I’ll be reading from ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL next Thursday, concentrating on the parts of it that deal with drugs and the use and abuse of same, both illegal and legal, and then getting into a Q&A with the audience, possibly about my cavalier attitude - in fiction, at least - to drugs and the use and abuse of same, both illegal and legal. If you can make it along, it’d be great to see you there …

Thursday, August 25, 2011

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: John McAllister

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?
THE REDEMPTION FACTORY by Sam Millar. Not only is it a great story, the book taught me how to depict life in the raw.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
All fictional characters are screwed up in some way, which is what makes them human and interesting. I like my own screw-ups. A friend wanted to cure one of them once and I told him to mind his own business, that that screw up was part of me. But if you insist, the main character in the Dick Francis novel, TO THE HILT. I can’t find the book to give you the character’s name.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Mostly I read thrillers but sometimes I get what I can only describe as a dry feeling in my soul. Then I tend to read something really literary. Quite often it’s a book by Jennifer Johnston.

Most satisfying writing moment?
I think whey you push yourself away from the desk and know you’ve done a satisfying amount of creative work that day.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
That’s not a fair question. I’d have trouble deciding who is my favourite Irish crime novelist, let alone novel. The best thing to do is to take the anthology REQUIEMS FOR THE DEPARTED (Morrigan Books, 2010). Open it at the list of contributors and throw a dart. You could hardly go wrong.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
What about John Banville’s THE BOOK OF EVIDENCE? The book has a great atmospheric feel about it that could be easily transferred onto the screen.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing is probably six o’clock in the morning when I am crawling out of bed to get the day started. The best thing is when a story or novel is published. You are standing in front of a crowd reading an excerpt and suddenly you know the listeners are so enthralled you could literally hear a pin drop. Unless my late mother in law was there. Then all I could hear was her saying to her neighbour, ‘I can’t hear him? Can you hear him?’ And there’s me wanting to shout, ‘Would you wear your bloody hearing aid?’

The pitch for your next book is …?
My novels are usually thrillers but my short stories are based on social issues. One such story has evolved into a novel, which is due out next year. Title still to be firmed up. However, the book is about a Catholic priest who turns up at his new parish with his (female) partner. I’ve just got back the reader’s report so things are at an early stage at this point.

Who are you reading right now?
I’ve just finished Glenn Meade’s latest novel THE SECOND MESSIAH. It’s a good chase / shoot them up read, and the shenanigans of cardinals at the Vatican are very believable. I’ve just started a first novel, THE SURVIVOR by Sean Slater. Sean is a Vancouver police officer. It has started very well

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Write. I could do a memoir slagging off God for being so unreasonable, then he might reconsider.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Enjoyable, literate (as opposed to literature) educational (no big drums).

John McAllister’s LINE OF FLIGHT has just been re-issued on Kindle.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Free The Connolly One!

There’s a very strong risk that I’m going to turn into some kind of boy who cried wolf, given that I have a tendency on these pages to describe THE LATEST NOVEL by A.N. Other Irish Author as his / her best yet. Two things about that: one, there’s not a lot else I can say if it’s the case - as I believe it is - that a goodly number of Irish crime writers are consistently upping their game with each passing book. Secondly, and with the caveat that I’m still only halfway through THE BURNING SOUL, John Connolly’s latest is an absolute stonker so far. A bittersweet paean to the state of Maine by way of an elegiac quality of poetry, flashes of Chandleresque homage, a riveting plot about child abduction against a backdrop of the murder of a young girl some two decades previously, all laced with Charlie Parker’s sulphurous wit - all of Connolly’s trademarks are here, along with a sense of coiled, tensile power bursting to escape the story’s seams. I’ve always been a fan of Connolly’s work, and made no secret of it; but this feels different, and in my (rarely) humble opinion, something of a step up onto another level.
  Of course, John Connolly was good enough to launch my own humble tome a couple of weeks back, so feel free to dismiss all of the above as log-rolling. It will be your loss, though.
  Anyway, THE BURNING SOUL will be officially launched in Eason’s, O’Connell Street in Dublin on August 29th, and all the details can be found here. Given the demand, the event is likely to be oversubscribed, but a little birdie informs me that free tickets - yep, that’s a recession-friendly free - can be booked in advance by emailing info@hbgi.ie. The evening’s entertainment will centre on a public interview with - unsurprisingly - John Connolly, conducted by our very own Arlene Hunt, which should make for a fairly lively conversation. I’m officially taking bets now as to which of the pair will manage to pack in the most indiscreet revelations …

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Blume By Any Other Name

I was mightily impressed with Conor Fitzgerald’s debut, THE DOGS OF ROME, when it appeared last year. Domiciled in Rome for the past few decades, Fitzgerald writes about Commissario Alec Blume, an American-born, Rome-based police detective who has the insider’s track on Italian crime and an outsider’s eye for the good, bad and ugly in Italian life. A terrific thriller, THE DOGS OF ROME was notable for the elegance of its language, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to learn that Conor Fitzgerald is a pseudonym for Conor Deane, who is the son of the noted Irish poet, Seamus Deane.
  THE DOGS OF ROME, by the way, was last week shortlisted for a John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger by the Crime Writers’ Association.
  I sat down with Conor Fitzgerald a few weeks ago to interview him for the Sunday Independent, this to mark the publication of the second Alec Blume novel, THE FATAL TOUCH, and a very pleasant couple of hours it proved too. First let me say that, as fine a novel as THE DOGS OF ROME is, THE FATAL TOUCH represents something of a leap forward for Fitzgerald, even if it is only his second offering. My review of it is here, with the gist running thusly:
“Beautifully written, the story proceeds at a stately pace which disguises an exquisitely complex plot, as Blume delicately negotiates the labyrinth that is Roman policing. Fitzgerald has an elegant, spare style that straddles both the literary and crime genres, and the style is perfectly pitched to reflect Blume’s own world-weariness.”
  Marilyn Stasio, writing in the New York Times, liked it too; clickety-click here for more
  Anyway, what was particularly interesting about the interview, for me at least, was Conor Fitzgerald’s comment on how his writing career was influenced by his father, the poet - although not necessarily in the way you might expect. To wit:
“My father’s an extremely clever man, he really is,” says Conor, “but at some stage in his life he decided that the only things that were really interesting were detective novels and football […] In the pre-Amazon days, he used to send me books in the post. With poetry, for example, he’d always say, ‘This guy is very good, but ...’ and he’d make some observation, which could be political, or academic, literary, or simply in bad taste. With the crime novels, he’d just say, ‘This is brilliant’.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gorgeous George And Me

Marshal Zeringue is one of the most tireless supporters of books and writers of all stripes and none, most famously with his Page 69 Test, and more recently for Writers Read and My Book, The Movie. My most recent contribution to Marshal’s roster of heroes and villains consists of my take on the My Book, My Movie casting of the hypothetical adaptation of ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL, which starts out by asserting that only the multi-talented human rights advocate ‘Gorgeous George’ Clooney (one for the ladies, right) could play the part of the fictional ‘Declan Burke’ of AZC, and gets progressively more deluded / deranged from there. For all the details, clickety-click here
  Elsewhere in AZC-related flummery, the good folk at Liberties Press were kind enough to upload a video of John Connolly mostly lying through this back teeth as he very kindly launched our humble tome on August 10th. Now, the vid starts off with the Dark Lord saying that he doesn’t usually do this kind of thing, for a variety of reasons; if I’d known that beforehand, I wouldn’t have asked him to do the honours, not least because I hate being put on the spot like that myself. True to form, however, JC not only did the honours, but did us and ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL proud in the process. Roll it there, Collette …
  Meanwhile, over at Seana Graham’s interweb lair, Not New For Long, there’s an impressively forensic review of ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL. It’s always nice when someone takes the time to read your book (and I’m still at the stage where I’m always surprised that someone has done so), but it’s particularly pleasing when said reader engages with the book in the kind of comprehensive fashion Seana has. It’s not the kind of review that lends itself to pull-out blurb-style quotes, but I am very impressed with the fact that Seana has managed to pack in references to Flann O’Brien, Dante, Mephistopheles, Adrian McKinty and James Joyce’s eye-patch. For all the skinny, clickety-click here
  Finally, a quick word on my trek across the border to Norn Iron, and specifically to No Alibis, where David Torrans hosted a double-hander of yours truly and the aforementioned Adrian McKinty last Thursday night. A very enjoyable evening it was, too, with much scurrilous scuttlebutt being passed off as ‘insights into writing’ (koff), very little of which I could reproduce here without running the risk of being sued into oblivion (and which proved tame enough, as it happens, by comparison with the post-gig conversation carried out over the course and under the influence of a number of Pimms afterwards). Anyway, the good denizens of Belfast and surroundings came out in force, including a number of scribes, among them Stuart Neville, David Park, Andrew Pepper and Gerard Brennan. It was slightly unsettling that Stuart Neville chose to sit in the front row, particularly as the man is a runaway bestseller these days, but we survived the grilling nonetheless, and terrific fun it all was. Incidentally, for those of you in the general vicinity of Belfast, John Connolly and Alan Glynn will also be appearing at No Alibis, on September 1st, to promote THE BURNING SOUL and BLOODLAND, respectively. Should be a cracking night …

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bloodymarvellousland; and Gordon Burn

I mentioned during the week on ye olde Twittere that I’d finished Alan Glynn’s latest offering, BLOODLAND, suggesting that he really should have gone for broke and titled it BLOODYMARVELLOUSLAND. Which is to say, I thought it was terrific, a synthesis of the best elements of his previous offerings, THE DARK FIELDS and WINTERLAND. I’ll be reviewing said tome in due course, so I’ll say no more about it for now, except to say that it’s likely to be one of the finest crime novels published this year, and a very fine example of the classic conspiracy thriller.
  All of which is by way of a preamble to pointing you towards a nifty little piece Alan penned for The Huffington Post last week, in which he speculates on the rise of a new sub-genre, ‘pulp faction’. To wit:
In LIBRA, Don DeLillo’s imagined Oswald and Ruby are so convincing, so forensically delineated, that it almost feels like time travel. Other writers - James Ellroy, Eoin McNamee, David Peace - have done this, too, filtered real events through their fictional prisms, and to equally electrifying effect. But a different approach again was taken in 2008 by the late Gordon Burn in his stunning BORN YESTERDAY, which had the subtitle, ‘The News as a Novel’. In presenting us with the events of summer 2007, Burn makes nothing up. Rather, he conjures it all into a kaleidoscope, a surrealistic canvas of connections, a mediated meditation. With the events of summer 2011 now drifting by, it’s hard not to speculate what Burn might have done with the hacking scandal - with Murdoch, Brooks, Cameron, Sean Hoare, Milly Dowler, The Hour, the sidelined debt crisis, the sidelined famine . . . Oslo . . . Amy . . .
  For the rest of the piece, clickety-click here
  This isn’t the first time the name of Gordon Burn has popped up on these pages, by the way, and if he’s good enough for Alan Glynn and David Peace, then he’s certainly good enough for me. If anyone else out there has anything further to offer on Gordon Burn, I’m all ears.
  Meanwhile, BORN YESTERDAY was recently released as an e-book. You can find all the details here