“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, June 2, 2012

One Is Not Amused

Have you heard the one about the Irish author who wasn’t qualified to talk about his own novels? Quoth the Belfast Telegraph:
He’s a crime writer of renown, and his books have been on Queen’s University’s curriculum.
  Yet in a twist that Kafka would have been proud of, Colin Bateman has been left baffled after the university ruled him out of lecturing in creative writing — because he doesn’t have a degree.
  The Bangor author recently applied for a post as a lecturer in creative writing at the university.
  Bateman, who currently teaches creative writing at the South Eastern Regional College, received a letter on Wednesday telling him he was not getting an interview.
  When the author, recently listed in a Top 50 Crime Writers of all-time poll, queried this, he was advised that staff are bound by job specifications and as he does not have a degree, he could not be shortlisted for interview.
  He has branded the decision to refuse him an interview for the post as “ridiculous” and “crazy”.
  For the rest, clickety-click here
  Personally, my greatest fear is that Bateman - already, sans first name, half-adrift in the culture, and whose latest series features a ‘Man With No Name’ masquerading as the owner of the No Alibis crime fiction store in Belfast - will take the decision so badly that his identity with be reabsorbed into whence it came, thus creating a rift in the space-time continuum into which will be sucked Queens University. That, or he’ll write some kind of post-modern comic novel about, y’know, some author who isn’t qualified to tell people about his own books, and is thus obliged to hoik out ye olde blunderbuss and go on the rampage.
  Either way, it won’t be pretty. If you want to add your voice to the protest against Queen’s University’s decision, or just want to join in the general mischief-making merriment, clickety-click here

Origins: KILLER REELS by Rob Kitchin

Editor’s Note: Now and again, although not nearly half often enough, I step to one side here at CAP and let a proper writer do the talking. The ‘series’ is called Origins, and allows a writer to explain the original idea for a story, character, setting, etc. This week: Rob Kitchin, author of KILLER REELS.

Jimmy Kiley’s stars are only ever one hit wonders

“The initial spark for KILLER REELS was the hook - a killer would show a video of the death of his previous victim to the star of the next. After than it was simply a case of imagining who the movie-maker was, the reason why the stars were selected, and determining how the previous victim died and how the next would meet his or her maker.
  “The whole lot dropped quickly into place and the first story, ‘King Canute’, was drafted in a couple of hours, unleashing the ruthless criminal, Jimmy Kiley, onto Dublin’s north side. The story and characters almost seemed to write themselves and I was both fascinated and deplored by Kiley’s inventive imagination.
  “As a keen amateur movie maker, Kiley sees no reason why he shouldn’t mix his own brand of law with his hobby. He views himself as a director: guiding his stars and crafting scenes. He’s calm, collected, ambitious and street smart. He pays attention to detail. He believes in loyalty to people and place and despite his wealth and power he still lives in a corporation house in the same area in which he grew up and he cohabits with his long term partner. His reputation for calculated violence precedes him and he expects to be respected and obeyed as a matter of course. He invariably is. Those that fail to do so suffer the consequences. And their downfall is recorded for posterity.
  “Kiley has two ambitions. To become the criminal leader for the whole city and to make a full length feature film. He’s well on the way to achieving both. And whilst he tries for the first, using the opportunity to create a series of interlinked short films, he gains valuable real-world training for the second. The result is twelve Kiley films where his hapless victims become one hit wonders. And the price for viewing Kiley’s private collection is to star in the next.
  “KILLER REELS documents Kiley’s movie-making and his rise to the top of Dublin’s underworld. It’s gritty, urban, Irish noir. Violent and menacing, but not gory. Tight, taut stories that pack a punch.” - Rob Kitchin

Friday, June 1, 2012

Some Like It Cold Cold

You’ll have to wait until November, unfortunately, but it’s all kind of good news that Adrian McKinty’s THE COLD COLD GROUND will be published in North America by Seventh Street Books, a Prometheus imprint under the steady hand of editor Dan Mayer. Quoth the blurb elves:
For Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy, the Troubles are only just beginning ...

Northern Ireland. Spring 1981. Hunger strikes. Bombings. Assassinations. Sky high unemployment. Endemic rioting. Everyone who can is getting out. This is a society teetering on the edge of chaos and the brink of civil war. Amid the madness, Detective Sergeant Duffy is dealing with two cases: what may be Northern Ireland’s first ever serial killer and a young woman’s suicide that may yet turn out to be murder. It’s no easy job - especially when it turns out that one of the victims was involved in the IRA, but last seen discussing business with one of their sworn enemies in the UVF. For Duffy, though, there’s no question of which side he’s on - because as a Catholic policeman, nobody trusts him. Fast-paced, evocative and brutal, THE COLD COLD GROUND is a brilliant depiction of Belfast at the height of the Troubles - and a cop treading a thin, thin line.
  As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, I loved THE COLD COLD GROUND; even though Sean Duffy is pencilled in to appear in a trilogy, I have a gut feeling that there’s a lot more miles in him than that.
  Here’s a review of THE COLD COLD GROUND, which references David Peace, Eoin McNamee, James Ellroy and James Lee Burke. While you’re at it, here’s an interview with Adrian McKinty I had published in the Irish Examiner back in March.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ochi Day: Nay, Nay And Thrice Nay

On October 28th, 1940, the Italian ambassador to Greece, Emanuele Grazzi, delivered an ultimatum to the Greek prime minister (and erstwhile dictator) Ioannis Metaxas: Greece allowed the Italian-German Axis forces to occupy strategically important Greek bases, or suffer the consequences.
  1n 1940, Greece was no more an international powerhouse than it is today. Metaxas knew with certainty that were he to refuse Grazzi’s ultimatum, the consequences would be dire. Even if the Greeks managed to repel Mussolini’s invading army, which they did in some style, the Germans were waiting impatiently, jackboots tapping.
  Legend has it that Mextaxas offered a single, laconic ‘No’ (‘Ochi’). What he actually said was, ‘Alors, c’est la guerre.’
  Nowadays October 28th is celebrated in Greece as ‘Ochi Day’ - ‘No Day’.
  The Guardian runs an editorial today on the Irish referendum on the EU Fiscal Treaty, summing up the Yes and No vote as Fear and Anger, respectively. It’s not quite that simple, but it strikes a chord.
  It certainly strikes a chord when the Irish Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, who disgracefully dismissed Ireland’s links with and concerns for Greece as no more than a waning appetite for feta cheese, attempts to bully the electorate into voting Yes.
  Today I think Ireland will vote Yes to the Fiscal Treaty. It will vote Yes because it is afraid, and it is afraid because it is being bullied, and because it has been conditioned by 800 years of colonial oppression to take bullies seriously, and because the Famine still haunts the darker shadows of its subconscious.
  Today, and despite the fact that Sinn Fein are urging a No vote, I’ll be voting No. I’ll be voting No because I refuse to be bullied and to live in fear and to accept that I must live the rest of my life to the rhythm of impatient jackboots tapping and according to the whims of the utterly inept gamblers of the international markets, those laughably self-styled ‘Masters of the Universe’.
  I’ll be voting No because dignity matters.
  I’ll be voting No because Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail - all of whom have miserably failed this country since its Independence, and will continue to do so for as long as we give them a mandate to do it - want me to vote Yes.
  I’ll be voting No because, contrary to what the Fat Fool Noonan might believe, I have far more in common with the vast majority of the Greek people than feta cheese, not least of which is a very healthy suspicion of the ruling classes, this on the basis that a desire to rule should be in itself sufficient reason to bar any man or woman from ever taking power.
  I’ll be voting No in solidarity with the Greeks on the basis that if you tolerate this, then your children will be next.
  Ochi, Ochi, Ochi, Ochi.
  I’ll leave you, if I may, with a soupcon of WB Yeats:
What need you being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till,
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone?
For men were born to pray and save:
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Jeffrey Siger

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?
Though one might not think of it as a ‘traditional’ crime novel, I’d have to say BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy. There’s none better to my way of thinking.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
No question about it. Sherlock Holmes, original version. Golden Victorian prose and none of that DNA detecting stuff to clutter one’s tiny attic of an investigative mind.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
The plays of August Wilson, he’s a master of dialect.

Most satisfying writing moment?
When my new Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis novel, TARGET: TINOS, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Although I’ve received similar reviews for earlier works, TARGET: TINOS was a particularly long haul to complete; indeed I had to write two books to come up with just one. I’d written the first one in 2010 and it was scheduled to come out in January 2012, when out of the blue its central storyline and later my primary bad guy came to life and played out across the world as independent, front-page headline news events. What I’d put forth as an original story line now seemed hopelessly derivative and my publisher and I agreed to kill it. Writing the novel that replaced it was not a pleasant experience … for all the while I had an eye on the headlines, praying events I imagined would not again be overrun by reality. As things turned out they were! But by then I was smiling ear-to-ear for the first reviews were in, calling TARGET: TINOS, “another of Jeffrey Siger’s thoughtful police procedurals set in picturesque but not untroubled Greek locales”—The New York Times, “superb…a winner”—Publishers Weekly, “complex portrait of contemporary Greece to bolster another solid whodunit”—Kirkus Reviews, “fast paced…interesting and highly entertaining”— Library Journal, “throbs with the pulse of Greek culture…an entertaining series”—Booklist.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
Excluding my host’s novels, which must be included at the very top of any such list, and since I’m being pressed to answer, I’ll say IN THE WOODS by Tana French.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: you can very easily forget about your obligations to the rest of your life. Best: you can very easily forget about your obligations to the rest of your life.

The pitch for your next book is …?
“Honest, it’s almost done.” Oh, you don’t mean to my editor. Then I’d say: “Life as we know it is changing in the West. Forces of occupation no longer come with armaments, but with pens, promises, and lots of cash.”

Who are you reading right now?
Believe it or not, Samuel Beckett. Just finishing up WAITING FOR GODOT for the zillionth time.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Write. Although I think it would be in everyone’s best interest that I be allowed to read my work for editing purposes.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Authoritative, compelling, authentic.

Jeffrey Siger’s TARGET: TINOS is published by the Poisoned Pen Press.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Charlie’s Angels

I don’t get excited about covers as a rule, but the artwork for John Connolly’s latest Charlie Parker novel, THE WRATH OF ANGELS, is rather impressive. Shades of the cherubim taking up station east of Eden, methinks, although if memory serves there was a flaming sword involved in that particular imbroglio as opposed to a pair of burning wings. Quoth the blurb elves:
In the depths of the Maine woods, the wreckage of an aeroplane is discovered. There are no bodies, and no such plane has ever been reported missing, but men both good and evil have been seeking it for a long, long time. What the wreckage conceals is more important than money: it is power. Hidden in the plane is a list of names, a record of those who have struck a deal with the Devil. Now a battle is about to commence between those who want the list to remain secret and those who believe that it represents a crucial weapon in the struggle against the forces of darkness.

  The race to secure the prize draws in private detective Charlie Parker, a man who knows more than most about the nature of the terrible evil that seeks to impose itself on the world, and who fears that his own name may be on the list. It lures others too: a beautiful, scarred woman with a taste for killing; a silent child who remembers his own death; and the serial killer known as the Collector, who sees in the list new lambs for his slaughter.

  But as the rival forces descend upon this northern state, the woods prepare to meet them, for the forest depths hide other secrets.

  Someone has survived the crash.
  SOMETHING has survived the crash.
  And it is waiting . . .
  So there you have it, and there really isn’t much point in me saying much more. I’m ridiculously comprised in relation to John Connolly’s work, partly because I’ve been a fan for years, but mainly because (a) he launched my own tome last year and (b) he and I have co-edited a title, BOOKS TO DIE FOR, which will appear in August. All of which means that anything positive and/or complimentary I say here about John Connolly can be considered deeply suspect, and perhaps rightly so.
  Happily, John Connolly needs no such big-ups from yours truly, and would continue to sell books by the freighter-load were this blog to burn down, fall over and sink into a swamp.
  What I can say without fear of contradiction is that John Connolly’s Charlie Parker stories combine all the essential elements of a great novel - character, story, style and theme - and deliver them in a unique blend. I won’t be shocked if he doesn’t win the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, because there’s a very strong field on the longlist this year; by the same token, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if he did win, on the basis that he’s as fine a crime novelist as has emerged from these islands in the last two decades.
  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is yours truly’s two cents.

Monday, May 28, 2012

On Winning The Goldsboro ‘Last Laugh’ Award, And Failing Better

I genuinely did not expect ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL to win the Goldsboro ‘Last Laugh’ Award at the Bristol Crimefest, not least because the shortlist included two of my all-time favourite writers - Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiassen - along with a slew of very good contemporary authors, among them a previous winner in the shape of the very gracious Len Tyler.
  In fact, I’d been in touch recently, by email, with Elmore Leonard’s PR guy and right-hand man, and had told him that if Elmore was to win, I’d be more than happy to pick up the award for him, given that I’m travelling to the States in the near future and would love an excuse to visit Elmore Leonard.
  Then David Headley of Goldsboro Books read out the shortlist of nominees, and the winner, and I was halfway to the podium and still in a state of shock when I realised that the only winner’s speech I had prepared was one on behalf of Elmore Leonard. Hence the blithering idiot (the non-Jeffery Deaver guy above, right) who bumbled his lines in front of an audience of wordsmiths, their publishers and agents.
  I do remember saying something about how my wife, before I left, told me not to bother coming home unless I won (which sounded vaguely like the Spartan mother’s blessing, ‘Come home behind your shield, or on it.’), so that winning was something of a pity, because I was really starting to warm to Bristol …
  I’ll write a longer post during the week about the Crimefest weekend in general, but for now I have to hit and run. Suffice to say that I was very pleased indeed to be sitting beside my good friend Peter Rozovsky when the winner’s name was read out; had he not been there to shake my hand, and confirm that it wasn’t some deranged acid flash-back hallucination, I may well have remained sitting in my seat all night, getting more and more paranoid that everyone was staring at me. And thanks too to Brian McGilloway, who took the photo above, and was kind enough to broadcast it to the world on the night.
  I’m still not the best of it, mind. I was very tempted to check out of the hotel early on Sunday morning, in case they’d made a mistake.
  Anyway, I’m back home now, and the prize is taking up pride of place on the office windowsill, and I’m slowly starting to descend from the improbable high of it all. It feels good, it really does.
  One final word, which occurred to me late on Saturday night, and which might be of use to any writers out there who are finding it difficult to find a publisher: ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL went through fourteen publishers, all of whom said no, before finding its place with Liberties Press. To paraphrase Sammy B: fail, fail again, fail better …