“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, September 30, 2011

On Combining Surrealism With The Best Of Noir Fiction

I do own more than one shirt, I swear. It just seems to be the case that, as happened last Friday night at the Mysterious Bookstore in New York (right), as I said a few words of thanks to everyone involved in bringing DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS to fruition, and particularly John Connolly, I’m always wearing the blue-striped affair whenever someone points a camera in my direction.
  As to what I was doing up a ladder, well, your guess is as good as mine.
  That pic comes courtesy of a fine piece by Peter McDermott in the Irish Echo, by the way, in which he gives a good overview of the events of the GREEN STREETS-inspired symposium on Irish crime writing hosted by Ireland House at NYU last weekend. For more, clickety-click here; and feel free to scroll down this page too …
  Elsewhere, it’s been a good week for ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL. First off, The Crime of It All posted a very nice review indeed, with the gist running thusly:
“ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL challenges the perceived limitations of the crime fiction genre as much as the perceived limitations of Ireland’s current financial woes. Dreamlike and invigorating, it combines surrealism with the best of noir fiction in an enthralling reminiscence of Flann O’Brien’s AT SWIM-TWO-BIRDS … Burke’s writing is sharp, funny, and excruciatingly honest … a genuinely original and inventive novel, and its brevity leaves the reader wanting more, more Declan Burke. After all, the man has crafted a clever, personal, and charming story, a testament to the prize worthy of the best of Irish crime fiction.” - Conor Tannam, The Crime of It All
  With which, as you can imagine, I was well pleased. For the rest, clickety-click here. But stay! For lo, there’s more, this courtesy of The Dubliner magazine:
“We’re into a self-conscious world of meta-fiction, somewhere between Muriel Sparks’ THE COMFORTERS, Bret Easton Ellis’ LUNAR PARK, and of course, the inevitable comparison, which John Banville makes on the front cover blurb, Flann O’Brien … It’s a measure of Burke’s achievement in this funny and clever book that he can stand comparison to these three. Meta-fiction is a high-wire act requiring wit and style, or it falls flat. Burke has both … the book is witty, philosophical and a page-turning crime thriller.” - Bridget Hourican, The Dubliner
  I thank you kindly, ma’am.
  Meanwhile, and equally good news for yours truly, was the confirmation that I’ll be taking part in a two-hander event with Alan Glynn next Thursday evening, October 6th, at The Rathgar Bookshop, kick-off for 7.30pm. The bad news is that there’s a €4 cover charge; the good news is, there’ll be wine served. And if my previous experience of the Rathgar Bookshop is any guide, the wine will flow until cups overfloweth. Even better news is that Alan Glynn’s BLOODLAND is a smashing piece of work in the classic ‘paranoid thriller’ mould. If you’re in the vicinity, and in the mood for a glass of wine (or three) and a conversation about good books, please drop by for a chat …

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Best Things In Life Are Free … Books

The very kind souls at the Overlook Press have offered us a signed copy of Eoin Colfer’s current offering, PLUGGED, to give away to a discerning reader. First, the blurb elves:
The long-awaited crime caper so outlandish, so maniacal, so wickedly funny, it could have only come from the mind that brought you Artemis Fowl. Daniel McEvoy has a problem. Well, really, he has several, but for this Irish ex-pat bouncer at a seedy, small-time casino the fact that his girlfriend was just murdered in the parking lot is uppermost in his mind. That is until lots of people around him start dying, and not of natural causes. Suddenly Daniel’s got half the New Jersey mob, dirty cops and his man-crazy upstairs neighbour after him and he still doesn’t know what’s going on. Bullets are flying, everybody’s on the take and it all may be more than Daniel’s new hair plugs can handle. And Daniel’s got to find the guy who put in those hair plugs - or at least his body - and fast, or else he’ll never get that voice out of his head. Head-spinning plot twists, breakneck pacing and some of the best banter this side of Elmore Leonard’s Detroit, will keep you on the edge of your seat and itching for more.
  It’s been picking up some very nice reviews Stateside, has PLUGGED, with a selection from The Washington Post, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews and the Library Journal to be found here. The gist of the New York Times review runs thusly:
“Dan’s chivalric mission of mayhem makes no logical sense, but it does attract the attention of numerous unsavoury characters and results in lots of bloody fun.” - New York Times
  Nice. To be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of Eoin Colfer’s PLUGGED, just answer the following question:
Who should play the lead role in the inevitable movie of PLUGGED?
  Answers via the comment box, please, leaving an email contact address (and using (at) rather than @ to confound the spam monkeys) by noon on Thursday, October 6th. Et bon chance, mes amis

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Gerry Galvin

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 DEBT TO PLEASURE by John Lanchester, for the cruel, patrician detachment of his main character, Tarquin Winot and his food descriptions, to die for!

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther for the sheer pleasure of being hilariously inept.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
John Grisham, who always tells a good story.

Most satisfying writing moment?
When I finally discovered ‘the right voice’ for James Livingstone Gall in KILLER A LA CARTE.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde. A stunning and creepy depiction of depravity, never bettered.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
So many! Any of Benjamin Black’s or Gene Kerrigan’s - all that authentic Dublin detail.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing is re-reading my over-indulgent wordiness and the best is loving the precious moments of flow.

The pitch for your next book is …?
Food critic, James Livingstone Gall, finally comes to grips with his murderous nature; rehab and a form of redemption. But he is unaware that a newly appointed Detective Inspector is revisiting past unsolved murders with James Livingstone Gall on top of his most wanted list. James, on the run, soon reverts to murder mode, globe-trotting, one step ahead of the posse.

Who are you reading right now?
THE MASTER by Colm Toibin, having just finished a couple of novels by Lawrence Block, a master in his own right. Henning Mankell’s THE DOGS OF RIGA is on standby.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
I’d insist on the right to consult my lawyer.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Could do better.

Gerry Galvin’s KILLER A LA CARTE is published by Doire Press.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Choo-Choo-Choose Arlene Hunt

Yesterday I do be mentioning Arlene Hunt in dispatches from last weekend’s trip to New York, so I do (sorry, but we were in an Irish bar on Friday night, and it takes time for the pixie dust to wear off), and it’s fair to say that one of the highlights of the weekend was seeing Arlene’s latest tome, THE CHOSEN, in the flesh for the first time. A very handsome tome it is too, and nice to see a crime novel that opts for a white cover rather than the usual grim tones that tend to dominate designers’ palettes. It’s all the more impressive, methinks, when you consider that THE CHOSEN is Arlene’s first outing under her own aegis, as it were: after six well-received titles published with a traditional house, Arlene has taken publishing matters into her own hands, setting up Portnoy Publishing with her husband. I wish them a fair wind and calm seas as they set sail into the future …
  As for the novel itself, Mike Nicol over at the very fine Crime Beat blog is currently publishing extracts from a number of contemporary Irish crime novels, and Arlene’s contribution from THE CHOSEN can be found here. “A taut, sharp, gripping re-imagining of the serial-killer novel,” says Tana French, which is all kinds of nice.
  Elsewhere, Crime Beat also features extracts from Alan Glynn’s latest, BLOODLAND; a snippet from Colin Bateman’s forthcoming tome NINE INCHES that begins - oh yes! - with, “It was a dark and stormy night …”; and my own humble tome, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL, which is currently sulking in a corner and wishing it had been written by Colin Bateman. Ungrateful buggers, my books …

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Fairytale of New York

I walked out of my hotel in Manhattan on Friday morning to find myself in an Alan Glynn novel. A damp, muggy morning, with the upper reaches of the Chase Manhattan building (right) around the corner swaddled in cloud, and tempting it was to believe that the building was a totem for capitalism, its vaulting ambition being claimed by spectral apparitions descending on Manhattan. The impression of being in an Alan Glynn novel was only confirmed when you strolled along the street and turned right into Wall Street, which was cordoned off and patrolled by the NYPD, this due to the ‘Take Wall Street’ protests. I ate a breakfast of champions of a short stack of pancakes and a strawberry shake and watched a flash mob of protestors chant, sing and drum their way towards the cordons, hedged about and trailed by New York’s finest, the protestors filming the cops filming them, and all as suitably claustrophobic, ironic and paranoid a fairytale about the clash between capitalism and democracy as you could wish for. Or maybe I was just hallucinating after spending a night at the bar in the company of unnamed Irish writers, during which - I can only surmise - I was strapped to said bar against my will and force-fed White Russians.
  Said writers and myself were in New York, of course, to mark the US publication of DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS, and a very fine time was had at the Mysterious Bookstore on Friday evening, where we were hosted in very hospitable fashion. An absolutely wonderful bookstore; if you find yourself in New York, make your way to Warren Street and inhale. The line-up of Irish writers was (l-r): John Connolly, Declan Hughes, Arlene Hunt, Alex Barclay, Colin Bateman, Professor Ian Campbell Ross and Stuart Neville.
  A fine body of men, certainly, although even a cursory glance will tell you that the actually fine bodies belonged to the ladies, who brought a badly needed soupcon of glamour to the occasion.
  We’ll draw a discreet veil over the post-Mysterious Bookstore shenanigans, and fail miserably in our duty to identify the writer who managed to get trapped in the doors of a subway train, to be rescued with no little derring-do by Captain Bateman, and move on to Saturday, when Ireland House at NYU hosted said writers in a series of panels and events dedicated to exploring the current boom in Irish crime writing. John Waters of Ireland House was in wonderful form, cheerleading GREEN STREETS in particular and the Irish crime novel in particular in charismatic fashion, ably assisted by Irish crime fiction’s leading agent provocateur, one Joe Long, a man among men, and the hidden engine behind the Ireland House symposium. It was slightly surreal for yours truly to listen to various academics not only take GREEN STREETS seriously, but to spin their own theories off its central premise, and marvellous it was too to be introduced to the semi-legendary Professor Joe Lee, and be able to make a presentation to him on behalf of Liberties Press and the assembled writers.
  All in all, a terrific day, and one in which some very interesting ideas were bandied about. I may be wrong, but I don’t think we’ve heard the last of that day’s events just yet.
  As for the rest, well, what happens in Noo Yoik stays in Noo Yoik. Suffice to say that wine flowed, the veritas surfaced, and I now know - even though I don’t want to - what a ‘barse’ is. Cheers, Stuart. I may never sleep peacefully again.
  Finally, a heartfelt thanks to everyone at the Mysterious Bookstore, and at Ireland House, NYU, and especially to the inimitable Clair Lamb, who was brilliant above and beyond the call of duty.