This, of course, amounts to a kind of retrospective version of shooting myself in the foot. What to do, what to do …?
I could, of course, come out and say that I was lying through my teeth when I gave, say, Alan Glynn’s BLOODLAND a big-up recently, or Casey Hill’s TABOO earlier this year; or claim, for that matter, that Benjamin Black’s A DEATH IN SUMMER is not, as I suggested a couple of months ago, the finest of John Banville’s Quirke novels to date.
That’s one option, certainly.
I could also go the route of claiming the moral high ground, and insist that it’s ridiculous to pit very different kinds of novels against one another in a competition, and instead suggest a more straightforwardly barbaric test, in which we put all six writers into a cage for a marathon smack-down session, and let the best man or woman win. Of course, that wouldn’t fly, because Casey Hill is comprised of a wife-and-husband team, so they’d have an unfair advantage.
Another option, and the preferable one, is to simply confirm that the short-list for the Crime Fiction Award represents pretty stuff competition: “The Group of Death, in more ways than one,” as Eoin Purcell observed on Thursday morning. It’s also fair to say, I think, that were the list to be comprised of an entirely different six Irish crime titles published this year, it would also be a very strong shortlist. If I were Adrian McKinty, Gene Kerrigan, Niamh O’Connor, Brian McGilloway, Conor Fitzgerald or Eoin Colfer, for example, I think I’d feel entitled to be very disappointed at not making the list.
It sounds perverse, but the fact that such writers didn’t make it is part of the joy of being there. Because this is a very, very good time for Irish crime writing, with a very high quality of work being produced by some very interesting writers; it’s the oldest cliché in the book, I know, but it really is lovely just to be nominated, given the number of excellent titles that were published this year alone.
Naturally, having been nominated, I’d now like to see ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL win the award, and as much for Liberties Press as for myself, or the book. If we don’t, it’ll be disappointing, of course; but as we used to say back in the days when I played football, there’s never any shame in being beaten by a better team.
And so, rather than sneak around pretending that the other short-listed titles don’t exist, and hoping that AZC wins the award by default, I’d much prefer to go on celebrating said titles. To wit:
My take on A DEATH IN SUMMER by Benjamin Black (you’ll need to scroll down a little);So there you have it, folks: a fine body of books, and every one of them deserving of your vote. If you’re in the mood to exercise your suffrage, clickety-click here …
A Q&A with wife-and-husband writing team Casey Hill;
Some very nice reviews of Alan Glynn’s BLOODLAND can be found here;
I have yet to read William Ryan’s THE BLOODY MEADOW, but the reviews suggest I should get the finger out and do so, especially as I thoroughly enjoyed his debut;
And I haven’t read Jane Casey’s THE RECKONING yet, but I have no reason to doubt that it’s as good as her previous offering, THE BURNING, which I thought was a cracker.