“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.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

La Hunt Becomes The Hunter

It’s a busy old time for Arlene Hunt (right, hunting). Firstly, the paperback edition of THE CHOSEN was published this week, which I’m sure was very time-consuming in itself, but on top of all that Arlene had to find time to bask in the wake of a very nice review in New York’s Irish Echo. I’ve no link, I’m afraid, but the gist runs thusly:
“THIS IRISH author writes with the same deftness as John Connolly about a locale outside Ireland and does so very convincingly … Great writing, convincing development and a satisfying denouement. This is an impressive addition to the serial killer genre which has obvious movie potential.” - Seamus Scanlon
  Seamus Scanlon, by the way, is a very fine (and award winning) short story writer, of whom you’ll be hearing quite a lot over the next couple of years.
  Back to la Hunt, however, and you’ll need to get your proverbial skates on if you want to sign up for ‘Crime Writing with Arlene Hunt’, a six-week course that takes place at the Irish Writers’ Centre on Parnell Square in Dublin 1. The course kicks off on April 25th, and runs for six Wednesdays from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, all of which will set you back the princely sum of €165. For all the details, including how to book, clickety-click here

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Stav Sherez

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 POWER OF THE DOG (Don Winslow) or THE COLD SIX THOUSAND (James Ellroy). Two novels that grip, rattle and roll, opening up windows into unwritten history and secret desire. Everything about these books works, from the uncompromising nature of the material to the Cubist accretion of sentences, the micro-processing of history into narrative, and the sheer plunging Shakespearean complexity of the characters.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
All my favourite fictional characters have terrible lives and worse ends, so that’s a tricky one. But [Lee Child’s] Jack Reacher would be cool: the existential drifter and classic Saturday-matinee Western hero who rides into town and dispenses justice and retribution before fading back into the sunset. I think we all nurture dreams of leaving our lives behind, sundering aside the weight of possessions and personal ties and setting off into the dusty unknown. I would also love to be James Crumley’s CW Sughrue because his life seems like a lot of wild-eyed fun and bad craziness.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Derrida and Wilbur Smith.

Most satisfying writing moment?
When you get a sentence just right, and you know it’s right, and there’s no doubt about it.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
It would vary, depending on the day, month, year. At the moment it’s probably WINTERLAND by Alan Glynn.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I’d like to see Stuart Neville’s THE TWELVE on screen

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: Reading through drafts and wondering when exactly did you forget how to be a writer. Coming up against your own limitations every single day. Best: Not having to wear shoes.

The pitch for your next book is …?
Eleven days before Christmas. Eleven dead nuns. A snowstorm over London. A killer on the loose.

Who are you reading right now?
Volume 2 of William Burroughs’ collected letters, which I’ve been waiting 19 (!) years for. And dipping back into William Vollmann’s RISING UP & RISING DOWN. It’s his attempt to construct a moral calculus and perhaps the only truly necessary book of the 21st century.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Read. Definitely. I couldn’t imagine a life without the pleasure of reading other people’s books.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Dark. Dark. Dark.

A DARK REDEMPTION by Stav Sherez is published by Faber and Faber.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Philadelphia, Here We Come!

Yours truly had a piece published in the Irish Times yesterday about how the latest generation of Irish crime writers - including Claire McGowan (right), Eoin Colfer and Laurence O’Bryan - are increasingly turning to foreign settings for their novels, rather than set them here on the Emerald Isle. Is this a simple matter of where said novelists are based? A personal fascination with a particular location? Is it a commercially driven development made by author savvy enough to realise that Ireland just doesn’t cut it as ‘sexy’ enough as a location for crime fiction, or an inevitable reflection of our emigrant experience?
  I’m kind of hoping it’s not the last reason, given that my current tome is set here in Ireland, as is my tome-to-be. Then again, this is probably the first time the words ‘Declan Burke’ and ‘commercially savvy’ have appeared in the same sentence.
  Anyhoo, on with the piece, which opened a lot like this:
THEY’RE QUITE fond of Irish crime novels over at the LA Times. Eoin Colfer is better known for his young adult novels featuring Artemis Fowl, but it’s PLUGGED, his debut adult crime novel, that is currently shortlisted for the LA Times Crime/Mystery Book of the Year.
  In 2011, two of that category’s five shortlisted novels were written by Irish authors, Tana French and Stuart Neville; in 2010, Neville won the award for his debut novel, THE TWELVE.
  In a nutshell, those LA Times nominations reflect the wider popularity and critical acclaim Irish crime writers are receiving in the US. John Connolly and Ken Bruen blazed a trail that was followed by French and Neville, Alan Glynn, Alex Barclay, Benjamin Black, Declan Hughes, Arlene Hunt, and more.
  They in turn paved the way for a new generation of Irish crime writers, one that differs from its forerunners in one crucial way: its reluctance to set its novels in Ireland.
Eoin Colfer’s PLUGGED, for example, is set in New Jersey.
  “Originally,” says Colfer, “PLUGGED was set in Dublin but it just never felt right to me, perhaps because noir novels are traditionally set in the US, or the fish I had created was not far enough out of water. When I moved it to New Jersey the whole thing clicked in my head and that’s about as much as I can explain it. It felt right. Daniel was an Irish guy out of his depth in America. As his adopted countrymen might say, it had the right vibe.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Monday, April 9, 2012

It’s Always Dawnest Before The Dark

The always eagled-eyed Rob Kitchin brings our attention the fact that there’s a new kid on the Belfast block - for lo! DARK DAWN is the debut title from Matt McGuire. Quoth the blurb elves:
Belfast. January 2005. Acting Detective Sergeant John O’Neill stands over the body of a dead teenager. The corpse was discovered on the building site of a luxury development overlooking the River Lagan. Kneecapped then killed, the body bears the hallmarks of a punishment beating. But this is the new Northern Ireland - the Celtic Tiger purrs, the Troubles are over, the paramilitaries are gone. So who is the boy? Why was he killed? O’Neill quickly realises that no one - his colleagues, the politicians, the press - cares who the kid is, making this case one of the toughest yet. And he needs to crack this one, his first job as Principle Investigator, or he risks ending up back in uniform. Disliked by the Chief Inspector and with his current rank yet to be ratified, O’Neill is in a precarious position. With acute insight, Matt McGuire’s cracking debut exposes the hidden underbelly of the new Northern Ireland, a world of drug dealing, financial corruption and vigilante justice.
  Sounds like a good one, especially if the good folks over at Euro Crime are to be believed.
  So who is this Matt McGuire guy? Well, some diligent research - yep, a quick Google search - reveals the following:
Dr Matt McGuire was born in Belfast and gained his MA, MSc and PhD in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh. Before coming to the University of Western Sydney he was a Lecturer at the University of Glasgow. He has published widely on various aspects of Irish and Scottish Literature, contemporary fiction and crime writing. His debut novel, DARK DAWN, was published by Constable Robinson and is coming out in April 2012.
  So there you have it. Yet more academic professor-types writing Irish crime fiction. Which is, surely, the literary equivalent of the second horse of the apocalypse. Or is it just that Irish dons are no more capable of resisting a nice, juicy murder than their Oxford counterparts? Answers on (used) fifty euro notes to the usual address, please …