“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “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.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Season Of Mists And Mellow Shortlistness

It’s that time of the year again, folks, that time of mists and mellow fruitfulness when I wonder (fruitlessly, for the most part, but in mellow fashion) as to the shape and content of the Ireland AM Irish Crime Novel of the Year - if memory serves, the shortlist for said award was announced in mid-October last year.
  It’s been yet another very good year for the Irish crime novel, even if some of its leading lights - Colin Bateman, Gene Kerrigan, Ava McCarthy, last year’s winner Alan Glynn, Eoin McNamee, Declan Hughes - didn’t publish. It has also been a most extraordinary year for debuts, which - as I understand it, but don’t quote me on this - are more likely to be entered in the Best Newcomer section rather than the Best Crime Novel category. In fact, you’d put together a shortlist of debut Irish crime novels for 2012, it would look something like this:
Conor Brady, A JUNE OF ORDINARY MURDERS;
Michael Clifford, GHOST TOWN;
Claire McGowan, THE FALL;
Matt McGuire, DARK DAWN;
Louise Phillips, RED RIBBONS;
Anthony Quinn, DISAPPEARED.
  That’s impressive enough, but there’s also a number of interesting titles from authors who aren’t considered crime writers, but who have delivered novels steeped in the genre:
Marian Keyes, THE MYSTERY OF MERCY CLOSE;
Joe Murphy, DEAD DOGS;
Keith Ridgway, HAWTHORN & CHILD;
Darren Shan, LADY OF THE SHADES.
  And then, of course, there are those authors who are recognised as crime writers. To wit:
Alex Barclay, BLOOD LOSS;
Benjamin Black, VENGEANCE;
Ken Bruen, HEADSTONE;
Jane Casey, THE LAST GIRL;
John Connolly, THE WRATH OF ANGELS;
Conor Fitzgerald, THE NAMESAKE;
Tana French, BROKEN HARBOUR;
Casey Hill, TORN;
Arlene Hunt, THE CHOSEN;
Brian McGilloway, THE NAMELESS DEAD;
Adrian McKinty, THE COLD COLD GROUND;
Stuart Neville, STOLEN SOULS;
Niamh O’Connor, TAKEN;
William Ryan, THE BLOODY MEADOW.
  So there you have it. If anyone fancies drawing up a six-book shortlist from that little lot, you’re a better man and / or woman than me. For what it’s worth - and bearing in mind that John Connolly’s novels are rarely put forward for consideration, and that e-only titles unfortunately don’t qualify - I’d imagine it’ll come down to a coin toss between Tana French and Adrian McKinty, both of whom produced superb novels this year, although I was particularly fond of Brian McGilloway’s and Alex Barclay’s new offerings too.
  If anyone else has anything to add, including any titles I might have missed, the comment box is now open …