“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 16, 2011

“She Wears Diamonds / She Wears Rubies / She Wears Stones As Big As My Ones …”

I had one of those very-strange-but-wonderfully-weird moments yesterday, when you step into a lift and find yourself suddenly joined by one of the heroes of your youth. For lo! There I was, holding the lift door open (that’ll be ‘elevator door’ for our North American cousins), and who should pop into the life but Tom Dunne, formerly the lead singer of Something Happens! (the exclamation mark is integral to the band name, punctuation-fiends), one of those bands I loved and cherished as a spotty yoot. ‘Erm, how’s it going?’ says I. And without so much as pausing for breath, Tom Dunne says, ‘I’ve just started reading your book.’
  Did I look around for a fainting couch? No, I did not. I mumbled something about how I hoped it didn’t ruin his Christmas entirely, tried to get out of the lift on the wrong floor, and generally basked in the glow that comes with fierce blushing.
  A lovely, lovely moment.
  Roll it there, Collette: “She wears diamonds / She wears rubies / She wears stones as big as my ones …”
  Later that evening I met with The Dark Lord, aka John Connolly, for a coffee and a chat about A BLOODY BRILLIANT TOP SECRET PROJECT I CAN’T TELL ANYONE ABOUT JUST YET, and very nice it was too. The coffee and the chat, that is, and the way said project is coming together. It’s a book, I can tell you that. And once I see it all put together and shiny on its shelf, which should be in the latter part of 2012, I’ll be investing in a whole fleet of fainting couches. Can’t wait.
  Off then to Kildare Street and the National Library, for a conversation hosted by John Murray of RTE Radio on the subject of how women crime authors write differently to men when dealing with violence. Flanked by the lovely Arlene Hunt and the equally lovely Alex Barclay, I was, it’s fair to say, something of a tarantula on a slice of angel food. Still, it was a smashing night out, and very enjoyable, not least because we adjourned to the pub afterwards in the company of the inimitable Joe Joyce and the excellent Derek Landy. The conversation turned, as is its wont, to the subject of ’80s pop music, during the course of which I discovered that I wasn’t the only person in Ireland to have loved the David & David album ‘Welcome to the Boomtown’; not only that, but one of the people present was in touch with one of the Davids, and would be forwarding me an email contact in due course.
  Jayz. As Van the Man once said, mother never told me there’d be days like these …
  Roll it there, Collette …

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Phew! It’s Tana French’s Scorcher …

I have no idea if the image on your right will be the official cover for Tana French’s BROKEN HARBOUR, but I kind of hope it is - it’s all very dramatic, indeed, and pretty timely in terms of where we are in Ireland, with storm clouds overhead and the waves crashing up onto the shores.
  Anyway, the novel isn’t due until next June (boo), but it will feature a minor character from Tana’s previous / current offering, FAITHFUL PLACE, one Scorcher Kennedy, and the blurb elves have been busy already, with their combined best efforts reading a lot like this:
In Broken Harbour, a ghost estate outside Dublin - half-built, half-inhabited, half-abandoned - two children and their father are dead. The mother is on her way to intensive care. Scorcher Kennedy is given the case because he is the Murder Squad’s star detective. At first he and his rookie partner, Richie, think this is a simple one: Pat Spain was a casualty of the recession, so he killed his children, tried to kill his wife Jenny, and finished off with himself. But there are too many inexplicable details and the evidence is pointing in two directions at once. Scorcher’s personal life is tugging for his attention. Seeing the case on the news has sent his sister Dina off the rails again, and she’s resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family, one summer at Broken Harbour, back when they were children. The neat compartments of his life are breaking down, and the sudden tangle of work and family is putting both at risk …
  Can’t wait to see this one. And with Conor Fitzgerald’s THE NAMESAKE and Adrian McKinty’s THE COLD COLD GROUND already on the way, Laurence O’Bryan’s THE ISTANBUL PUZZLE due in January, and the perennial offering from John Connolly in the shape of THE ANGELS OF WRATH, 2012 is shaping up to be yet another cracking year for Irish crime fiction …

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Jon Steele

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 LONG GOODBYE by Raymond Chandler.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Peter Pan. He can fly, he fights pirates, he won’t grow up.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
MULLINER’S TALES by P.G Wodehouse. One story before bedtime. Add a cup of hot chocolate and life is about as good as if gets.

Most satisfying writing moment?
When a sentence falls on the page and you have no idea where it came from, but it’s perfect.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD by Declan Hughes. (no kidding) Everything about it appeals to the altar boy I used to be.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Keith Baker’s INHERITANCE. I read it and could see it on the big screen at the same time.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The loneliness.

The pitch for your next book is …?
Buy this book or I’ll shoot your dog.

Who are you reading right now?
Mario Vargas Llosa’s CONVERSATIONS IN THE CATHEDRAL.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
I’d tell him to fuck off.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Lost. Searching. Redemption.

Jon Steele’s THE WATCHERS is published by Bantam.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Stop The Press! ’Tis The CAPNYA Short-List …

And so to the short-list for the less-than-coveted Crime Always Pays Novel of the Year Award - or CAPNYA, if you prefer. I ran a proposed long-list a week or so ago, and with the votes in (it was a very low voter turn-out, incidentally; I blame the weather), only three titles received more than one vote. So it makes sense, I guess, to make those three titles the short-list. And so - a trumpet-blast please, maestro - they are:
THE BURNING SOUL by John Connolly;
FALLING GLASS by Adrian McKinty;
THE RAGE by Gene Kerrigan.
  Bearing in mind that there’s nothing remotely scientific about the polling method, and that the voting will be necessarily skewed by the fact that I’ve mentioned my own personal favourites here on CAP more often than others on the long-list, it’s interesting (to me, at least) that none of those three titles made the short-list for the Irish Book Awards’ crime fiction gong.
  It’s also worth saying that all three are terrific novels, and well worth winning an award in any given year, regardless of the competition.
  Anyway, on to the business end. Please feel free to vote for any of those three titles as the best Irish crime novel of 2011, via the comment box below. Oh, and if you don’t, I’ll come over all Brussels on your collective ass and start imposing my own verdict on the democratic process. Don’t say you haven’t been warned …

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Dreamt I Dwelt In Hallowed Halls

Off I go this morning to the hallowed halls of Trinity College, Dublin (right), where I’ll be sitting down in the company of some unsuspecting students to chat about ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL in particular and Irish crime writing in general. Which should be fun, not least because the occasion will be hosted by Professor Ian Campbell Ross, who wrote the comprehensive introduction to DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21st CENTURY. I thought I knew a thing or two about Irish crime writing before I read Professor Ross’s introduction, and reading it confirmed that, yes, I know a thing or maybe two.
  So that’s today’s excursion accounted for, and if I survive the academic grilling, it’s upward and onward to the no less hallowed environs of the National Library on Thursday evening, for the latest instalment of ‘Thrillers and Chillers’. To wit:
Chillers and Thrillers
Does the female writer of crime fiction have an edge over her male counterparts? This question and more will be discussed on Thursday, December 15th by a panel of writers including Alex Barclay, author of BLOOD RUNS COLD, Arlene Hunt, author of the recently published THE CHOSEN, and Declan Burke, a leading crime fiction writer who has also written on the very topic of how women address the crime narrative in a different way to men, and author of the recently published ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL.
  So there you have it. For all the details on the ‘Thrillers and Chillers’ evening, which takes place at 8pm on Thursday, December 15th at the National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, just clickety-click here

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hell Is Perfect People

Peter James’ (right) new novel, PERFECT PEOPLE, is something of a departure from his Roy Grace series of novels. It’s a thriller, but it blends elements of sci-fi and horror as it takes on the very timely topic of genetic engineering.
  I had the opportunity to sit down with Peter James a couple of weeks ago, to interview him for the Irish Examiner. I asked him if the novel is intended as a kind of morality play, a warning against the potentially hellish consequences of humans playing God. He had this to say:
“It’s not so much a warning book, no,” he says. “I think what I wanted to say in this book is that this is the future that we are staring at right now, like it or not. I mean, you and I could set up a genetics laboratory here,” he gestures around the Gresham’s lobby.
  “You don’t need an awful lot of space, all you need is a telomerase machine, some pipettes, a computer, some Petri dishes, and not that much else. So, really, it’s not going to be controllable. Right now, you can go to a laboratory in Los Angeles and chose your baby’s hair colour, skin tone, eye colour. And there are disease genes you can have eradicated, cystic fibrosis is pretty close to being knocked out of the genome as we speak. When I started writing this book, it was sci-fi, no doubt about it. Right now, it’s all possible.
  “We’ve got to the point now where science is out of control,” he says. “We’ve lost the plot of trying to keep our understanding of really where we are with it. There’s a fascinating statistic I once heard, which is that Aristotle was the last human being whose generation would have been capable of reading everything that had been written in their lifetimes. Copernicus, in 1490, his generation would have been the last capable of reading everything produced in their own language during their lifetimes. These days, it’s impossible for one person to know everything that’s going on.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here