“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, July 21, 2012

The Year Of Ms French

I mentioned last week that Tana French’s BROKEN HARBOUR had picked up a couple of very nice reviews in the Irish Times and The Observer, with Bernice Harrison in the Irish Times, in particular, offering some astute observations.
  The Sunday Times also chipped in with its two cents last weekend, with the gist running thusly:
“It is the surprising subtlety of plot, language and tone that makes this one of the must-read page-turners of the summer.” - Sunday Times
  The enthusiasm for BROKEN HARBOUR didn’t noticeably flag during the week, when our American cousins stepped up to the plate. To wit:
“It’s not the fashion in literary fiction these days to address such things as the psychological devastation that a fallout of the middle class can wreak on those who have never known anything else, and Ms. French does it with aplomb — and a headless sparrow and dozens of infrared baby monitors.” - Washington Times

“Edgar-winner French’s eloquently slow-burning fourth Dublin murder squad novel shows her at the top of her game.” - Publishers Weekly (Pick of the Week)

“This may sound like a routine police procedural. But like Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL, this summer’s other dagger-sharp display of mind games, BROKEN HARBOUR is something more. It’s true that Ms. French takes readers to all the familiar way stations of a murder investigation: the forensics, the autopsies, the serial interrogations and so on. But she has urgent points to make about the social and economic underpinnings of the Spain family murders. And she has irresistibly sly ways of toying with readers’ expectations.” - New York Times

“She’s drawn not just to the who but also to the why — those bigger mysteries about the human weaknesses that drive somebody to such inhuman brutality. What really gives BROKEN HARBOUR its nerve-rattling force is her exploration of events leading up to the murders, rendered just as vividly as the detectives’ scramble to solve them.” - Entertainment Weekly

“Perfectly paced, with nuanced characters set against a backdrop of heart-rending conflict and dialogue that reads as though you’re a fly on the wall, BROKEN HARBOUR shows once again that Tana French is not only one of the most assured crime writers of our times, but one of the best emerging writers in any genre.” - January Magazine
  So there you have it. It can only be a matter of time before someone jumps the shark in suggesting that BROKEN HARBOUR ‘transcends the genre’, but in the meantime, and in my humble opinion, the hype is fully justified. Enjoy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Poxy Bleedin’ Beauty Is Born

I interviewed Eoin Colfer a couple of weeks ago, during the course of which he mentioned a bagatelle called YEATS IS DEAD!, a comic crime novel put together by Joseph O’Connor in 2001 on behalf of Amnesty International which featured 15 of Ireland’s literary lights. To wit: Roddy Doyle, Conor McPherson, Gene Kerrigan, Gina Moxley, Marian Keyes, Anthony Cronin, Owen O’Neill, Hugo Hamilton, Joseph O’Connor, Tom Humphries, Pauline McLynn, Charlie O’Neill, Donal O’Kelly, Gerard Stembridge and Frank McCourt.
  Please don’t ask me why Colin Bateman wasn’t involved. I know nothing, other than that the blurb elves were wittering thusly:
YEATS IS DEAD! is an elaborate mystery centred around the search for something more valuable and precious than anything else in Ireland–an unpublished manuscript by James Joyce. A madcap chase ensues, spiced with the shenanigans of a spectacular array of characters: a sadistic sergeant with the unlikely name of Andy Andrews; a urinal paddy salesman; and the unforgettable Mrs. Bloom, a woman “who had tried everything but drew the line at honesty.” Gratuitously violent and completely hilarious, YEATS IS DEAD! is an out-of-control tale of lust and literature that packs big laughs and an even bigger body count.
  YEATS IS DEAD! was e-published in 2010, with Amnesty International still benefiting, so if you fancy yourself some Irish comic crime fiction and helping a good cause in the process, you could do a lot worse than clickety-click here

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Robert Pobi

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?
Can’t do just one. In chronological order: I, THE JURY by Mickey Spillane; THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE by John Godey; and the big bad (obvious) voodoo daddy of them all - RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
First choice? Keyser Söze. Second choice? Noah - any guy who can keep dinosaurs and kitty cats happy on a boat for forty days is all right by me.

Who do you read for guilty pleasure?
Robert Ludlum, Clive Cussler, and Robert E. Howard – and please keep this between us.

Most satisfying writing moment?
When, years after rejecting my application based on composition marks, a certain unnamed university asked me to come in for a book signing.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
Being the child of expats may disqualify him on technical grounds, but I’d put Dennis Lehane’s GONE, BABY, GONE in the ring with anything out there. Period.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I’d love to see someone tackle BLUES HIGHWAY BLUES by Eyre Price – he’s Irish American but I won’t split hairs on this one. THE GUARDS by Ken Bruen is runner-up.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing: Trying to explain a process I don’t really understand. The best thing: Three in the morning when there’s nothing in the world but me, the keyboard, a cup of coffee, and the work won’t stop coming out of my head.

The pitch for your next book is …?
… up to my agent; I’m terrible at pitches.

Who are you reading right now?
BIGFOOT: I NOT DEAD by Graham Roumieu, and the instruction manual for my new GPS.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
I’d ask for some ID. Then I’d tell him to mind his own business.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
In. Stores. Now.

BLOODMAN by Robert Pobi is published by Thomas and Mercer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Rush Of Blood

I’m not going to say too much about the recent review in the Irish Independent of BLOOD LOSS (HarperCollins) by Alex Barclay (right), except to wonder, rather plaintively, why I never seem to get reviews that begin like this:
“Alex Barclay has to be the best-looking thriller writer in Ireland . . . and possibly anywhere else for that matter. She also happens to be one of the best. She will be able to star in her own movies when they start turning her bestselling books into films.” - Irish Independent
  For the rest, clickety-click here
  By the way, and for the record, and in the interests of transparency and accountability, etc., I met with Alex Barclay last week to interview her, and she very much is, as they kids say, all that. Truth be told, she’s the kind of attractive that turns male and female heads when she walks into a room. It’s also true that she’s much more interested in being a good writer than she is in ‘all that’.
  Happily, BLOOD LOSS is a terrific thriller that blends the personal and the political in a very interesting way, and takes a well-deserved cut at Big Pharma in the process. It is, as the kids say, ‘all that’.
  Finally, if you have the time, Alex Barclay was interviewed on TV3’s Ireland AM last week. Clickety-click here for the visuals

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Doing His Eoin Thing

I had the great pleasure last week of sitting down with Eoin Colfer (right), to interview him on the occasion of the publication of the final chapter in the Artemis Fowl story, THE LAST GUARDIAN. He’s a lovely guy: funny and generous and self-deprecating, and entirely free of any unnecessary ego.
  That interview was published in the Irish Times on Saturday, and a very nice spread it was too. It opened as follows:
Forthright but quietly spoken, understated but unambiguous, Eoin Colfer, the self-deprecating creator of the Artemis Fowl phenomenon, is a bundle of contradictions, writes DECLAN BURKE

IT COMES AS no surprise to learn that William Goldman is one of Eoin Colfer’s favourite writers. “I think Marathon Man is one of the best thrillers ever written,” he says. “And Goldman also wrote The Princess Bride, which is one of the best fantasy books ever written. It’s amazing that the same guy wrote both, but he also wrote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
  Colfer is no slouch himself when it comes to dabbling in different genres. Whether it’s selling 20 million copies of the Artemis Fowl series of books, being shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes with his debut crime-fiction novel for adults, or collaborating on musical theatre before writing the sixth instalment in the “increasingly improbable” Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, Colfer has an endless fascination with new forms.
  If there is one constant in his work, it’s humour. “I find it very hard not to write humour,” he says. “I feel uncomfortable when no one is talking at a dinner table. I always feel like I’m the one who has to jump in and fill the gap. It was the same when I was writing plays. I was always worried when the audience was silent. Because I wasn’t getting the affirmation, maybe, that it was good. So I would invariably jam in as many jokes as I could. And it’s the same with the books. I’m just afraid that if people don’t laugh all the time they’re not enjoying themselves.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Monday, July 16, 2012

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Nuala Ní Chonchúir

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?
REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier. I love its tension and atmosphere and that so much more is going on than we are being told. Manderley is such a creepy place but also beautiful; I love when a setting is as much a part of the narrative as the people.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Jane Eyre. She is so sure of herself despite her crappy childhood. I love her strength.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I read so much for work (reviews) as well as for pleasure that I don’t have time to waste on silly books. I read THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY when it came out and enjoyed it. Does that count?!

Most satisfying writing moment?
When the writing is all going along well and the world is the fictional world I’m in (as opposed to my real world of laundry woman/Tesco shopper/dinner maker).

The best Irish crime novel is …?
I loved THE BLUE TANGO by Eoin McNamee, based on the murder of Patricia Curran, a judge's daughter stabbed to death in 1952. A very compelling read.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Tana French’s IN THE WOODS – we need a nicely dark movie about Dublin crime, with a love story as side plot.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: lack of income. Best: travel – this year alone writing has brought me to Croatia, Arkansas, London, Nebraska, Waterford, Dingle ...

The pitch for your next book is …?
21-year-old Irish woman in love with a 51-year-old Scottish man gets into difficulties in the Scottish Highlands. There’s sex, lies and paperweights.

Who are you reading right now?
Sarah Hall’s short fiction collection THE BEAUTIFUL INDIFFERENCE. That girl can write.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
That’s a horrible question!! Read. I could write my own stuff in my head but it would be death not to be able to read other people’s work.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Sensual, black, lyrical.

Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s MOTHER AMERICA is published by New Island.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

To The Slaughter Manor Born

I had an interview with Karin Slaughter (right) published in the Irish Times last Friday. It began a lot like this:
KARIN SLAUGHTER would like it to be known that Karin Slaughter is not a work of fiction.
  “Yes, that really is my real last name,” says the Georgia-born author with a laugh. “There’s a village in the Cotswolds called Lower Slaughter. I went there on my vacation last year just for the photo op. There’s a place called Slaughter Manor, a beautiful old manor. I asked for it back and they said no.”
  CRIMINAL is Slaughter’s 11th novel. An intertextual mingling of characters from a disparate series of bestselling books, it features the Atlanta police detective Will Trent as he investigates the kidnap and murder of young women, the twist being that the killer’s modus operandi is remarkably similar to that of Will’s own father, a notorious murderer who has recently been released from prison.
  Much of the story takes place in 1975, however, as Slaughter explores the time and place that made Will’s boss, Amanda Wagner, the woman she is today.
  “I’ve been writing about Amanda for years,” says Slaughter, in her soft Southern drawl. “She’s kind of a ball-breaker, and I started to wonder about how she got that way. Every woman I know, and most men I know, have an Amanda Wagner in their lives. A woman who got to the top – and, instead of helping everyone else, she kicked the ladder away and told them they had to crawl across glass to follow her. So I wanted to explore why she got that way, and the best way to do that was to start talking about how things were when she started on the police force.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here:
  Meanwhile, Karin Slaughter is one of the contributors to BOOKS TO DIE FOR, writing a very fine piece on THE DEAD LETTER by Metta Fuller Victor (right). Quoth Karin:
“Metta Fuller Victor started it all for America, she was the first author to write a novel-length detective story. Poe gets a lot of credit for the first detective short story, but she really was the one who created the whole genre. And we don’t really talk about her. As a woman in a field that is very male-identified in many ways, I thought it was important to talk about the fact that it was a woman who gave all of us our start.”
  For more on BOOKS TO DIE FOR, clickety-click here