“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, September 1, 2012

SLAUGHTER’S HOUND: And So It Begins

The first review of SLAUGHTER’S HOUND arrives, courtesy of Barry Forshaw at Crime Time, and it’s fair to say that I’m quietly pleased. Quoth Mr Forshaw:
“Take a deep breath before this one. The acclaim that greeted Declan Burke’s adroit ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is almost certainly to be replicated for his latest book, SLAUGHTER’S HOUND, which arrives bearing an encomium from no less than Lee Child (as well as a striking jacket which rather cheekily lifts motifs from the designer Saul Bass – but then everyone does that.) Burke’s protagonist, the world-weary Harry Rigby, is witness to a suicide – a suicide which may be part of an Irish national epidemic. And in Harry Rigby’s Sligo, life can be very cheap, as Harry is to be reminded in the most forceful of terms.
  “Those familiar with Burke’s work will know what to expect here: that wry and sardonic authorial voice, married to a particularly idiosyncratic command of dialogue. In some ways, perhaps, it’s the latter which marks Burke out from what is rapidly turning into an unstoppable juggernaut of new Irish crime fiction.” - Barry Forshaw, Crime Time
  I have a theory that the first review of a book tends to set the tone for what is to come, and if that’s the case then hopefully SLAUGHTER’S HOUND is set fair.
  Meanwhile, I was interviewed about SLAUGHTER’S HOUND on RTE’s Arena radio arts programme during the week. It’s not that long an interview, maybe 15 minutes, but it felt like aaaaaaages. I do love talking about books, any kind of books, as anyone I’ve ever bored to death will testify. Talking about my own books? Not so much. Anyway, if you’re interested in hearing my dulcet tones, and the honey-latte voice of Arena presenter Edel Coffey, you can find said interview here
  Speaking of Edel Coffey, the very same lady will be hosting a chat between Ken Griffin and I at Electric Picnic this afternoon, in the Literary Tent in the Mindfield Area. It’s a nice line-up of writers, actually - John Banville, Keith Ridgway, Claire Kilroy, Eoin Colfer, Roddy Doyle and Ann Enright are some of the word-wranglers who’ll be taking part. Should be good fun, and it’s even promised to be sunny …
  Finally, for a very short opening excerpt from SLAUGHTER’S HOUND, clickety-click here

Thursday, August 30, 2012

BOOKS TO DIE FOR: The Witch Speaks

Off to Belfast today with yours truly, for the Norn Iron launch of BOOKS TO DIE FOR, John Connolly’s THE WRATH OF ANGELS, and mine own SLAUGHTER’S HOUND. It should be a cracking evening. If you’re likely to be in the vicinity this evening, we’d love to see you. The details run thusly:
Thursday, August 30 at 6:30 p.m.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast launch of THE WRATH OF ANGELS, BOOKS TO DIE FOR, and SLAUGHTER’S HOUND by Declan Burke
The Ulster Museum
Botanic Gardens, Belfast
Tickets Available from No Alibis Bookstore—free event!
44 (0) 28 9031 9601
Email: david@noalibis.com
  Meanwhile, over at the Book Witch’s lair, Madame Witch has been casting her critical eye over said tome, BTDF. To wit:
“Declan Burke and John Connolly have worked on a real must-have book for crime lovers and others who are thinking of entering the world of crime. They, and over a hundred of their crime writing peers, have got together to write essays – admirably short ones, at that – on the ‘greatest mystery novels ever written’ and it is wonderful beyond words.
  “The contents pages read like a Who’s Who, and I have been dipping in and out, trying to decide whether to pick essays about people I like, or by people I like, or about books I know and love. Or just go for the odd ones where I’ve never heard of either the novelist or the essay writing fan.”
  Ms Witch, we thank you kindly. I do hope we have the pleasure of your company in Manchester next month …
  Finally, over at Shotsmag, the lovely Ayo Onatade hosts an interview with John and I about the exquisite pleasure (koff) it was putting BOOKS TO DIE FOR together. Was Charles Dickens really the most surprising inclusion? For all the inside skinny, clickety-click here

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Money Follows You

There were many reasons why I enjoyed Conor Fitzgerald’s THE NAMESAKE earlier this year, said tome being the third in a series to feature the Rome-based Commissario Blume. One of the reasons was the light shed on the world of the Calabrian organisation the N’drangheta, a mafia that is far more low-key than similar outfits operating further north in Italy.
  One claim in particular caught my eye, when one of the characters announces that it was cash from the N’drangheta’s reserves that essentially kept Italy from going bankrupt during the banking crisis of 2008.
  Preposterous? Well, it certainly sounds dramatic. But here’s a quote from a very fine piece published in the New York Times last Sunday:
Many of the illicit transactions preceded the 2008 crisis, but continuing turmoil in the banking industry created an opening for organized crime groups, enabling them to enrich themselves and grow in strength. In 2009, Antonio Maria Costa, an Italian economist who then led the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, told the British newspaper The Observer that “in many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital” available to some banks at the height of the crisis. “Interbank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities,” he said. “There were signs that some banks were rescued that way.”
  For the rest of the piece, which is titled, ‘Where the Mob Keeps Its Money’, clickety-click here

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” DC Gogan

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?
ALTERED CARBON by Richard Morgan. Sure, it’s set in the future and you’ll find it in the SF section, but at its heart it’s pure noir, with a simple but ingenious central conceit.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
I would like to have been James Lee Burke’s violent, ex-alcoholic Dave Robicheaux. I don’t know what this says about me.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Wilbur Smith. Although the Guilt / Pleasure see-saw can tip either way depending on the novel.

Most satisfying writing moment?
Apart from typing ‘The End’ onto that first draft, the moment when one of your characters does or says something you had no idea was coming.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
John Connolly’s THE KILLING KIND. Perfect entry point to his work. The scene where Parker meets Pudd for the first time is so dread-soaked it still resonates with me. “They burn well.”... Actually, forget Dave Robicheaux; can I be Charlie Parker instead? And if that’s cheating and I have to recommend an Irish novel set in Ireland, it would be Tana French's BROKEN HARBOUR. Because ... well, because it’s Tana French's BROKEN HARBOUR.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
THE KILLING KIND. Vivid characters, atmospheric location, great action set-pieces. Shame I’d never go see it because of the spiders.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Best: creating something that has never existed before. Worst: feeling like you’ve created something that probably never existed for a reason.

The pitch for your next book is …?
Academic psychologist Darren McDaid is consulted by detectives after his research student Andrew Corrigan – who was researching the crimes that prisoners had committed but never been caught for – is stabbed to death on one of the main streets of Dublin. Was Andrew killed because someone told him too much? And what does it have to do with McDaid himself, who used to work at the same prison before a horrific, unexplained attack forced him to leave?

Who are you reading right now?
Meg Gardiner’s THE NIGHTMARE THIEF and Kim Stanley Robinson’s RED MARS. In non-fiction, my brain is being tied in delicious knots by Antonio Damasio’s THE FEELING OF WHAT HAPPENS.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Read. There’s more to be read than I’ll ever get to write. That’s not to say I’d like it; I’d probably cheat by scribbling in the margins and hope Himself wasn’t looking.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Must. Try. Harder.

DC Gogan’s CRITICAL VALUE is available now.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Laddies Who Launch

A busy week hoves over the horizon, with a number of book-related events piling up at the far end. First we’re off to Belfast on Thursday to launch BOOKS TO DIE FOR in the Ulster Museum, along with John Connolly’s THE WRATH OF ANGELS and mine own SLAUGHTER’S HOUND, all of which will take place under the watchful eye of David Torrans of No Alibis.
  Then it’s back to Dublin on Friday, where John launches THE WRATH OF ANGELS at The Gutter Bookshop in Temple Bar. Should be a cracker.
  On Saturday, I’m off to the Electric Picnic to do an event with Ken Griffin, which I am very much looking forward to. Given that the Picnic is an outdoor music festival, and pretty much takes place in the biggest field I’ve ever seen, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the weather report for sunny conditions holds. Otherwise it’ll be like the bloody Ploughing Championships down there. And welly-boots are not a good look for yours truly.
  Back to BOOKS TO DIE FOR, though. The book’s web lair has for the last week or so been featuring short videos from some of the contributors about their choice for BTDF, including pieces from Julia Spencer-Fleming, Meg Gardiner, Lee Child and Katherine Howell. For more, clickety-click here
  Meanwhile, here’s a sample, this from Linwood Barclay, who talks about why he picked Ross Macdonald’s THE GOODBYE LOOK and his personal relationship with Ross Macdonald. Roll it there, Collette …

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Condition Red

Louise Phillips’ debut RED RIBBONS (Hachette Ireland) will be arriving on a shelf near you very shortly, and will be officially launched on September 5th at the Hughes & Hughes store in Dublin’s Stephen’s Green shopping centre. Yesterday I had an interview with Louise published in the Evening Herald, which kicked off an awful lot like this:
“I didn’t set out to write crime fiction,” says Louise Phillips, “but pretty early on I realised my writing tended to inhabit darker places.”
  Never judge a book by its cover, they say. Neither should you judge one by its title. Anyone expecting RED RIBBONS, the debut novel from Irish writer Louise Phillips, to be a frothy chick lit concoction with the ribbons wrapping a Cupid’s bow around the latest forgettable romance is in for a shock.
  Here, the red ribbons are braided into the hair of dead schoolgirls discovered in makeshift graves in the Dublin Mountains. The novel is not based on any specific true crimes, but the storyline can veer at times uncomfortably close to reality.
  “I think the fear of ‘the bad man’, whom ever he might be, and how we can recognise him in all his many guises, has changed considerably in modern Ireland,” says Louise. “This is one of the central themes in RED RIBBONS. In Ireland, we’re all too aware of the sins of the past, but even in today’s world, where the protection of our children has never been more to the forefront, are we really equipped to recognise this danger?”
  It is in the asking and answering of such questions that novels are born.
  “I think writers and readers are often drawn to crime fiction for the same reason,” says Louise, “a desire to understand those who live by a different set of rules to our own. It is far more than macabre curiosity, or exploration for exploration’s sake. Crime writing at its best doesn’t simply look into the dark. It inhabits both the light and dark within all of us, asking big questions. Like, how would we cope given a particular set of circumstances?”
  For the rest, clickety-click here