“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.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

“Let’s Get Critical, Critical / I Wanna Get Critical / Let’s Get Into Critical …”

With apologies, obviously, to Olivia Neutron-Bomb. Anyhoo, I have been usurped, ladies and gentleman: nay, I have been cuckolded. For lo! The Irish Crime Fiction Group on Facebook does pretty much what it says on the tin, and achieves pretty much what this blog has been trying to do over the last few years, which is to bring news of developments in Irish crime writing to a wider public.
  Actually, and in the interest of transparency, etc., I should point out that the ICFGF is the brainchild of one Mick Halpin, aka Critical Mick, who was writing about Irish crime fiction long before Crime Always Pays ever saw the light of day, and who was hugely supportive of yours truly when I was trying to get CAP up and running.
  Anyway, I’m delighted to see the ICFGF doing it’s thang, and doing it so well, and not least because it seems to be attracting writers to contribute to the page. With CAP, it was always my blog, with added other writers; ICFGF is a more democratic set-up, and everyone’s entitled to log on and update. There’s also more of a community vibe to it, and while it’s still early days, I can easily see the ICFGF becoming the kind of forum for discussion I had originally envisaged for CAP, before I sabotaged the whole concept by hijacking CAP for my own nefarious purposes.
  Anyway, the rise of ICFGF coincides with yours truly doing a bit of thinking about where the good ship SS CAP might be sailing to in the future, and the idea of maintaining an online presence (blog, Twitter, Facebook, et al) which eats away at the time I have available to write (in a sense, the self-promotion thing veers into Catch-22 territory: the more time you spend promoting yourself, the more successful you’ll be; the more successful you are, the less time you get to write.)
  Simply put, I don’t have the time to do all the things I used to do. Last year, during which I was lucky enough to have two books published, I was burning the candle at both ends and taking a blowtorch to the middle too. It was an unsustainable schedule, and one that left me feeling pretty ropey by the year’s end.
  Ultimately, I need to work full-time, then spend time with my family, and then find time to write and / or spend time on book-related projects. The blog comes under the third heading there, which means, essentially, that it eats into writing time. Which means, I’m afraid, that the blog will have to go. Or, at least, that I’ll be ratcheting waaaaaaay back on the amount of time I put into CAP.
  In effect, and with ICFGF thriving, I guess what I’m hoping to do is abandon any pretence that Crime Always Pays exists to support Irish crime writing, and simply use it to let people in the wider on-line community know about any developments relating to my own writing. Which means posting erratically, and occasionally, and whenever it’s possible, time-wise. I’d hate to drop it entirely, given that I’ve met so many great people via Crime Always Pays, and because it is a useful way of staying in touch with the wider on-line crime writing community. Of course, whether or not people will still be interested in dropping by here when CAP is all about me waffling on about me is another matter entirely. We shall see.
  For now, I’d just like to say thanks a million to the Three Regular Readers, and to the more irregular visitors too, for making the last six years such an enjoyable experience. Hopefully I’ll be seeing you all over at ICFGF

Friday, January 6, 2012

“Leave. The Kid. Alone.”

I have a number of issues with Garry Mulholland’s STRANDED AT THE DRIVE-IN, which is subtitled, ‘FROM THE BREAKFAST CLUB TO THE SOCIAL NETWORK: THE 100 BEST TEEN MOVIES. Actually, I have five issues. One is Saturday Night Fever. The second is The Wanderers. The third is Brick. The fourth is Can’t Buy Me Love. The fifth is Some Kind of Wonderful. Classic teen movies all, and not one of them makes it into Mulholland’s Top 100.
  Still, half the joy of compiling and reading lists is the arguments they provoke, about what should go in and what stinks like a dead armadillo. And Mulholland’s list, while entirely subjective, makes for a breezy read that flirts dangerously with anorak-style analysis at times, but is largely terrific fun.
  Anyway, I had a feature on STRANDED AT THE DRIVE-IN published in the Examiner earlier this week, which kicked off a lot like this ...
Stranded at the drive-in / Feelin’ like a fool / What will they say / Monday at school …?

A lovelorn John Travolta pining for Olivia Newton-John may not, at first glance, represent film at its dazzling zenith, but film buff Garry Mulholland begs to differ. ‘Stranded at the Drive-In’, the opening line to one of the best-loved songs from Grease (1978), is the title of the Mulholland’s latest book, which attempts to list the 100 Best Teen Movies.
  ‘Not only do we get a cinema reference,’ says Mulholland in his introduction of the song Sandy, ‘but a neat summing up of a few of the key elements of teen fiction: thwarted romance, peer pressure, school, the quest for night-time pleasure, fear of humiliation.’
  Of course, no one really takes teen movies seriously. They’re all about hormonal angst and ridiculous serial killers, bad hair-dos and the Prom. Aren’t they?
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (18s)
David Fincher has directed some very good crime films during his distinguished career, including Se7en (1995) and Zodiac (2007), but it’s unlikely The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (18s) will feature on a show-reel of his finest moments when the Academy finally gets around to presenting him with a lifetime achievement award. A remake of the Swedish film of the same name from 2009, and remarkably faithful to both it and the Stieg Larsson novel that serves as its source material, the story finds disgraced journalist Mikael Blomqvist (Daniel Craig) commissioned by a wealthy industrialist, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), to investigate the disappearance of the man’s niece some forty years previously. Blomqvist is aided in his search by Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), an unorthodox investigator who specialises in computer hacking. The fatal flaw in the film, however, is that while Salander is by some distance the most original element of the tale, the story doesn’t actually require her presence in order for Blomqvist to solve the mystery. Meanwhile, her originality should not be confused with plausibility: shockingly rebellious, and with good reason, Salander’s memorable physical appearance is the antithesis of the successful investigator’s ability to blend in to the point of invisibility. Moreover, a crucial plot twist, in which she meekly submits to a sexual predator and so sets in train most of the secondary plot, is entirely out of character. That said, Mara is bracingly forthright as the unlovable Salander, and Craig puts in a solid if largely unmemorable performance. Fincher crafts a handsome-looking film which offers a beautifully bleak Sweden, and presents us with a formidable cast (Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgaard, Steven Berkoff and Joely Richardson all have meaty roles), but ultimately the story, which is essentially a creaking old Agatha Christie-style ‘locked-room’ mystery, defeats even this most inventive and idiosyncratic of auteur directors. - Declan Burke

  This review first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: JJ DeCeglie

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 GETAWAY by Jim Thompson (very tough to pick just one, I tell you!).

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
If I say Nick Corey from Thompson’s POP. 1280, does that make me a psycho? If so pretend I said Highsmith’s Tom Ripley.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I try to avoid this situation.

Most satisfying writing moment?
When someone tells you that what you wrote hit them right in the balls.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
I’ll give you two that jawed me - THE GUARDS by Ken Bruen, and DEAD I WELL MAY BE by Adrian McKinty.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I think McKinty’s sleeper FALLING GLASS would adapt very, very well.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Constant rejection and misinterpretation. Flashes of praise and occasional absolute understanding.

The pitch for your next book is …?
A slow-burn psycho, a big bet gone wrong in Vegas, booze, madness and Mexico ... oh, and a beautiful young trophy wife that my boy stupidly falls ass over for (including all the mayhem, punishment and revenge that comes with it).

Who are you reading right now?
THE SHARK-INFESTED CUSTARD by Charles Willeford.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Uh ... suicide?

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Unremitting, thoughtful, fecund. (If you’re thinking ‘Boy, what an asshole’, know that I thought it first).

JJ Deceglie’s DRAWING DEAD is available as an e-book on Amazon.com.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ground Control To Major Brennan: We Have Blast-Off

A belated Happy New Year from the Crime Always Pays elves to all Three Regular Readers, and apologies for the delay in getting our collective ass in gear for 2012. The issue, for the most part, is that the Grand Vizier has packed in the smokes again, and is finding it rather difficult to type, having gnawed his fingernails down to the elbow-stumps. Still, it can’t be Mills & Boon every day, right?
  Moving swiftly onwards, I can think of no better way to kick off 2012 than with a big fat juicy plug for Gerard Brennan, who follows up last year’s novella offering THE POINT with WEE ROCKETS. Quoth the blurb elves:
WEE ROCKETS is a gritty, urban morality tale; a wake-up call for society. It follows a gang of fourteen-year-old hoods as they rampage through West Belfast, fearless and forever upping the ante in their anti-social crimes. They mug pensioners to pay for the cider, cigarettes and sweets they hope will ease them through so many long, aimless days of summer. Their actions send shockwaves through an already damaged post-Troubles society that has yet to build a relationship with a new ‘Catholic-friendly’ police force. Stephen McVeigh, a local Gaelic football ‘star’ and concerned resident has had enough. He wants the kind of justice the Provos dealt in their heyday and he believes he’s the man to fill that void. With rat-like instincts, Joe Phillips has realised that his luck can’t hold out much longer. He wants to relinquish his post as the leader of the Wee Rockets. But as Stephen McVeigh closes in with his ham-fisted investigation, has Joe left it too late to change his ways? Without his loyal gang to back him up, Joe’s just a vulnerable fourteen-year-old kid from a broken home with nobody to turn to.

WEE ROCKETS does for Belfast what Irvine Welsh did for Edinburgh. It’s a frank look at the drink- and drug-addled youth ejected onto the streets of a socially deprived community as they smirk in the face of authority and play Russian Roulette with their adolescent lives.

Praise for WEE ROCKETS:

“The Wire? This is Barbed Wire. A cheeky slice of urban noir, a drink-soaked, drug-addled journey into the violent underbelly of one of Europe’s most notorious ghettos, WEE ROCKETS make The Outsiders look like the Teletubbies.” – Colin Bateman

“Gerard Brennan stands apart from the Irish crime fiction crowd with a novel rooted in the reality of today’s Belfast. The author’s prose speaks with a rare authenticity about the pain of growing up in a fractured society, shot through with a black humour that can only come from the streets. WEE ROCKETS is urban crime fiction for the 21st century, and Brennan is a unique voice among contemporary Irish writers.” – Stuart Neville

“In WEE ROCKETS Gerard Brennan has written a fast paced, exciting story of West Belfast gang culture; brimming with violence, authentic street dialogue and surprising black humour. This is a great debut novel. Brennan takes us into the heart of Belfast’s chav underclass, in a story that lies somewhere in the intersection between The Warriors, Colin Bateman and Guy Ritchie. This is the first in what undoubtedly will be a stellar literary career.” – Adrian McKinty
  So there you have it. WEE ROCKETS is published by Blasted Heath, the e-only publishing company out of Scotland; interestingly, to me at least, the image of WEE ROCKETS presented on the Blasted Heath website is that of a book, rather than a e-book cover. Are the Blasted Heath boys trying on some Jedi mind-trick, designed to convince readers they’re purchasing a dead-tree book rather than a digital version? Only time, that notorious tittle-tattler, will tell …