Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “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.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Get It On, Bang A Gong …

The warmest of congratulations to all the authors shortlisted for gongs at the Irish Book Awards launch last Thursday. It’s no easy thing, writing a book; and it’s harder still these days to get a book published. To write it well enough that it is recognised as worthy of a prize is certainly worth celebrating.
  It’s fair to say, I think, that the books nominated in the Crime Fiction category caused a number of finely plucked eyebrows to be raised at CAP Towers. Herewith be the list:
VENGEANCE by Benjamin Black.
SLAUGHTER’S HOUND by Declan Burke.
BROKEN HARBOUR by Tana French.
THE ISTANBUL PUZZLE by Laurence O’Bryan.
RED RIBBONS by Louise Phillips.
  Some of the crime fans I’ve spoken with have expressed surprise that two debut novels - by Laurence O’Bryan and Louise Phillips - made it onto the list, especially as there is a category dedicated to Newcomer of the Year, although I’d be inclined to applaud the fact that the judges were prepared to include books by newly minted authors (I was lucky enough to have my debut, EIGHTBALL BOOGIE, shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards when it came out in 2003). Besides, it looks like 2012 might well go down as a particularly quirky year for the Irish Book Awards - the Best Novel category, for example, contains no less than three collections of short stories, by Emma Donoghue, Joseph O’Connor and Kevin Barry.
  It might also be argued that Keith Ridgway’s HAWTHORN & CHILD and Marian Keyes’ THE MYSTERY OF MERCY CLOSE should have been nominated in the Crime Fiction category rather than Best Novel and Popular Fiction, respectively.
  Back with the Crime Fiction category, there are some glaring absences - although to be fair, I have no idea if any of the following books were even submitted for consideration. That said, a potential alternative shortlist would be a rather impressive thing, comprised of the following:
BLOOD LOSS by Alex Barclay.
THE LAST GIRL by Jane Casey.
THE NAMESAKE by Conor Fitzgerald.
THE NAMELESS DEAD by Brian McGilloway.
  There were also very fine novels this year from Michael Clifford (GHOST TOWN), Claire McGowan (THE FALL), Casey Hill (TORN), Matt McGuire (DARK DAWN) and Anthony Quinn (DISAPPEARED).
  As for the actual Crime Fiction list, I was particularly pleased to see Niamh O’Connor finally receive the recognition she deserves. I was also very pleased to find my own name there, as you may imagine, especially as SLAUGHTER’S HOUND is a very different book to my previous offering, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL, which was also nominated last year. Mind you, I’ve said all along this year that it’ll take a hell of a book to beat Tana French’s BROKEN HARBOUR, and given that the only Irish crime novel capable of doing so - Adrian McKinty’s THE COLD COLD GROUND - hasn’t been shortlisted, I’d imagine that Tana French will be scooping the gong on November 22nd.
  So there it is - my two cents on the IBA Crime Fiction shortlist. If anyone has any thoughts, the comment box is open …