“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, December 9, 2011

What JC Did Next

There’s a very nice interview with The Dark Lord, aka John Connolly, in the current edition of Hot Press (worth the price admission, alone, for the picture of JC doing his ‘demure’ pose), in which he waxes lyrical about his current tome, THE BURNING SOUL. He also drops a hint or two about the next Charlie Parker title, due next year. To wit:
His preferred method of relaxation is to keep working. While he swears he’ll keep his family happy by putting the pen down over Christmas, he reveals that he’s made inroads into the next Parker book. Tentatively scheduled for release in September 2012, with a working title of THE WRATH OF ANGELS, Connolly promises a return to more supernatural fare and a sequel of sorts to 2005’s THE BLACK ANGEL. There are other projects on the horizon too, and you can expect further adventures of Samuel Johnson, hero of Connolly’s newest franchise, albeit one aimed at a younger audience.
  For the full interview, clickety-click here

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On Small But Perfectly Formed Readerships

I mentioned last month that Adrian McKinty’s very fine novel THE COLD COLD GROUND is coming your way in January, but there’s also some excellent news about his 2011 offering, FALLING GLASS. For lo! Audible.com has picked FALLING GLASS as its Best Mystery / Thriller of the Year. Nice one, my son.
  Naturally, the award has sent McKinty into a dizzying downward spiral of self-examination over at his blog, wherein he talks about the titanic effort required to write novels when the world at large, for the most part, doesn’t seem to care. He then goes on to say this:
“But maybe the struggle is the point. I bet if I put my mind to it I could write a knock-off Michael Connelly or Lee Child and make boatloads of cash. But I don’t want to. I’m not that much of a cynic and books are too important to me. I don’t want to write for money or for the whims of editors in corner offices, I want to write the books that move me and make me think and make me excited. My readers get invested not just in the characters and the story but also in the words and sentences that make up the story. My readers like irony and judicial profanity. My readers like a good joke and a well turned phrase. My readers admire wit. My readers know who Seamus Heaney is. My readers DON’T HAVE TO HAVE EVERY LAST THING EXPLAINED TO THEM. My readers aren’t prudes. My readers don’t have to be told why its wrong to pour a shamrock on the head of a pint of Guinness. My readers can spot the gag in the sentence that begins chapter 2 of FALLING GLASS. My readers can recite poems from memory. My readers aren’t frightened by a page without dialogue. My readers can name the Presidents back to 1932. My readers are sometimes poleaxed but seldom banjaxed. My readers are a select group and, you know what, I’m really glad about that. Slainte.”
  God bless you, sir, and long may you run.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Once Moe With Feeling

Reed Farrel Coleman is a busy, busy man these days. Last month he released the standalone title GUN CHURCH as an audio book; this month sees the latest Moe Prager, HURT MACHINE, land on a bookshelf near you, courtesy of Tyrus Books. Will it be the last in the Moe series? Quoth Reed:
“HURT MACHINE is the 7th novel in the Moe Prager Mystery series. When the series began with the original novel, WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE, Moe was in his thirties. He had just been forced to retire from the NYPD due to an inglorious injury and knee surgery. He was alone, childless, in search of a future without his beloved job. In Hurt Machine, Moe is in his sixties. He and his brother own a large chain of wine shops. He’s been twice married, has one daughter on the verge of marriage, and has only worked one case as a PI in the last several years. Let’s face it, it’s tough to write a credible PI series when your protagonist takes long naps and worries about his Lipitor dosage. Yes, Moe Prager is coming around that last turn.
  “In HURT MACHINE, his daughter is two weeks away from her wedding when Moe receives very grave news about his health. Things get even more complicated when his ex-wife and former PI partner, Carmella Melendez, shows up after a nine year absence, asking for a desperate favour. A favour Moe is not inclined to grant. It seems Carmella’s estranged sister has been murdered outside a popular Brooklyn pizzeria, but no one, not even the NYPD, seems very motivated to find the killer. Why? That’s the question, isn’t it?
  “Fans of the series needn’t worry, though. The series isn’t coming to an end with HURT MACHINE. I plan on two more novels in the series. ONION STREET, the Moe book I’ve recently begun, is a prequel and will feature Moe just before he joins the NYPD. He’s an 18 year-old student at Brooklyn College and one of his closest friends gets in way over his head. As for the last book in the series … we’ll just see. It’s been a hell of a ride and I don’t know that it will be that easy to let go of my old pal, Moe.” - Reed Farrel Coleman
  Yes, yes - but is it any good? Well, Publishers Weekly likes it, for starters

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On Keeping Things Just The Right Side Of Ridiculous

And on flows the flummery. ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL has had a pretty decent run of it in the last couple of weeks (furiously blushing cover, right), with some very nice reviews popping up here, the Sunday Times declaring it one of its Books of the Year here, and the book itself setting sail for the continent of North America, as recounted here.
  Last weekend was particularly good for our humble tome, however, as Stuart Neville popped up in the Irish Times’ round-up of writers’ favourite books of the year, in which he gave a fully deserved big-up to Tom Franklin’s wonderful CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER, and then went on to say this:
“Declan Burke’s ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL (Liberties Press, €12.99) is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a cigarette paper. A story in which a character steps into the real world to guide a novelist through a rewrite of his own tale could easily veer into the realm of the pretentious in the hands of a less able author, but Burke manages to keep things just on the right side of ridiculous. I recently found myself trapped on a delayed train for six hours. Thank God I had this sublimely crazy book to keep me sane.”
  I thank you kindly, Mr Neville, not least for allowing me to associate with such august company.
  On Sunday, the Sunday Independent published a very nice interview with yours truly, courtesy of Hilary White, in which I held forth on writing, giving up cigarettes, becoming a dad and why crime writers are a pretty nice bunch of people, possibly because they leave all their nasty stuff on the page. To wit:
“There is a theory that goes along those lines, yeah, because you’re venting all the dark aspects of your psyche on to the page, and when you walk away you’ve left your vices behind. ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL toys with that idea, that the writer’s psyche is split and the good person he wants to be is writing this bad character that he could easily be -- and may already be -- out of his system.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Monday, December 5, 2011

Playing Patsy

I ran a Q&A with John J. Gaynard a couple of weeks ago, which very nearly sparked off a war in the comments box between John and a couple of French chaps unimpressed with his take on the French sense of humour. Anyhoo, John J. Gaynard’s current offering is THE IMITATION OF PATSY BURKE, which sounds a fascinating prospect - and delivers handsomely, according to Kirkus Reviews. To wit:
THE IMITATION OF PATSY BURKE, John J. Gaynard
Booze, brawls, sex and schizophrenia—such is the artist’s life in Paris, according to this raucous satire.

When Patsy Burke, a world-famous Irish sculptor living in France, wakes up in his hotel with his body torn and bloody and no recollection of how it got that way, he’s not particularly surprised. A raging alcoholic given to beating up pimps in Paris dives, he’s used to blackouts and drunk tanks. Unfortunately, his latest bender has left a dead man in its wake, and Patsy’s attempt to piece together what he’s been doing for the last few days triggers a reckoning with his past and his demons. Said demons take the form of bickering voices inside his head, including Caravaggio, a Nietzchean figure who eggs on Patsy’s fistfights and womanizing; Goody Two-Shoes, a prim woman who castigates his atrocious treatment of friends and lovers; a wispy romantic named Forget Me Not; and a scary demiurge called the Chopper, whose insistent promptings to behead women with a meat cleaver are barely fended off by the remnants of Patsy’s sanity. These clashing personae narrate Patsy’s violent picaresque and roiling internal conflicts; he’s bombastic, selfish, preening and cynical, yet steeped in Irish-Catholic guilt. (His downward spiral was touched off when he learned that a statue he made of Jesus being sodomized by two monks—meant as a protest against clerical abuses—is now presiding over orgies conducted by Vatican pedophiles.) Patsy’s saga is plenty lurid—”You bit off his right ear and you spat it out”—yet the author’s pristine prose keeps it under control. Despite the tale’s almost Dantean excesses, Gaynard makes the tone ironic and droll—during an odyssey through the Parisian demimonde, Patsy finds himself discussing Marxist development economics with a glamorous prostitute—and registers delicate shadings of his antihero’s psychic travails. The result is an entertaining, over-the-top farce that still draws readers in with pathos. - Kirkus Reviews
  Interesting stuff. I mean, it’s not often you stumble across a review of a crime novel that name-checks Jesus, Karl Marx, Caravaggio, Nietzsche and Dante, is it? Or am I just leading too sheltered a life these days?
  For more on John J. Gaynard, check out his Good Reads page

Sunday, December 4, 2011

CAPNYA; Or, The Crime Always Pays Novel of the Year Award

Well, it’s that time of the year again, folks, when we have a look back at the Irish crime titles released in the last twelve months or so, and make a ham-fisted attempt at deciding which was the best of the lot for the not-entirely-coveted Crime Always Pays Novel of the Year Award - or CAPNYA, if you prefer. I say ham-fisted, because all such ‘awards’ are by definition a lottery of subjective opinions, opinion being a polite word for prejudice; the good news there is, opinions are free, and so is leaving a comment in the box beneath this post. So, if you have a few moments to spare, and have an opinion on what might be the best Irish crime title of 2011, please join in the fun.
  To make it (slightly) interesting, and because the real object of the exercise is to bring the titles of great books to the attention of those who might have missed them first time around, I’m going to ask you to name your top three books, in 1-2-3 order, with the person who gets closest to the right 1-2-3 bagging themselves a signed copy of ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL by yours truly (runner-up gets two signed copies, etc.). In the event that two or more contributors tie, the names will go into a bobbly hat.
  The list of books below isn’t so much a longlist as a suggested reading list, and please feel free to include any title that isn’t on it in your 1-2-3. I’m going to run this post for two weeks, with the winner to be announced on Monday, December 19th, and maybe for giggles I’ll post a ‘short-list’ of the most popular books this time next week.
  Incidentally, I’ll be leaving myself and ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL out of the competition. As always, this has less to do with transparency and accountability and the democratic process than it has to do with the horrendous embarrassment that would come with my not winning an award I’m hosting on my own blog. You know it makes sense.
  Anyway, on with the list, which is presented in alphabetical order:
NINE INCHES, Colin Bateman;
A DEATH IN SUMMER, Benjamin Black;
THE POINT, Gerard Brennan;
HEADSTONE, Ken Bruen;
THE RECKONING, Jane Casey;
PLUGGED, Eoin Colfer;
THE BURNING SOUL, John Connolly;
THE FATAL TOUCH, Conor Fitzgerald;
BLOODLAND, Alan Glynn;
TABOO, Casey Hill;
GOODBYE AGAIN, Joseph Hone;
THE CHOSEN, Arlene Hunt;
THE RAGE, Gene Kerrigan;
HIDE ME, Ava McCarthy;
LITTLE GIRL LOST, Brian McGilloway;
FALLING GLASS, Adrian McKinty;
STOLEN SOULS, Stuart Neville;
BLOODLINE, Brian O’Connor;
TAKEN, Niamh O’Connor;
DUBLIN DEAD, Gerard O’Donovan;
THE BLOODY MEADOW, William Ryan;
  So there you have it, folks. Vote early, vote often, and let the games commence …