“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 8, 2012

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Thomas Mogford

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?
DIRTY TRICKS by Michael Dibdin. A stand-alone novel, rather than one of the ‘Zen’ series, it pulls off the near-impossible trick of making a thoroughly reprehensible main character utterly likeable. As someone who was brought up in Oxford, and has taught more than his fair share of foreign language classes, I felt a worrying sense of solidarity when the venal owner of language school receives a rather shocking comeuppance ...

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Keith Talent from Martin Amis’s LONDON FIELDS. Indefatigability and darts skills.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t often feel guilty about reading books. Free magazines and certain online newspapers, maybe…

Most satisfying writing moment?
When my wife reads something I’ve written, and doesn’t have a hint of a look that says ‘This could be better …’.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
DIVORCING JACK by Colin Bateman. My wife’s family are from Belfast, and this book convinced me that at any point while visiting them I would be kidnapped and trussed-up in a tower block. Still hasn’t happened, unfortunately …

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Irish-written, rather than Irish-set, but THE DOGS OF ROME by Conor Fitzgerald. Dog fights, mafia double dealings, all with the shimmering seedy backdrop of Rome… I’d buy a multiplex ticket for that.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The best thing is experiencing a scene as you write it in a way that is almost as intense as living it. The worst is the crippling sense of uncertainty as to whether that scene is any good.

The pitch for your next book is …?
Gibraltarian lawyer Spike Sanguinetti travels to Malta after the deaths of his uncle and aunt. What appears to be a blood-soaked murder-suicide turns out a great deal more dark and sinister…

Who are you reading right now?
An English translation of the crime novel BRENNER AND GOD by Wolf Haas. Gives the lie to the fact that German-speakers can’t be funny and cool.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
I think write, so as to try and pen poems to persuade Him to increase our daily rations of manna.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
The Times called SHADOW OF THE ROCK, ‘Evocative, engrossing and entertaining’, so if I can be forgiven the hideous self-promotion, I’ll go for that.

Thomas Mogford’s SHADOW OF THE ROCK is published by Bloomsbury

Friday, September 7, 2012

Down These Mean Streets An Angel Must Go

Broadcaster and occasional author Sean Moncrieff (right) returns to the fray with another intriguing offering, THE ANGEL OF THE STREETLAMPS (New Island), which is published on October 11th. Moncrieff’s previous novels, such as DUBLIN (2002) and THE HISTORY OF THINGS (2008), have tended be as concerned with their time and place as much as character and plot, so it’ll be interesting to see where this latest odyssey takes him. Quoth the blurb elves:
When Manda Ferguson falls out of an apartment window to her death, the story is on all the front pages. But then her death starts to have an effect on the living. Baz: the man accused of killing her has to decide whether or not to turn himself in. Maurice: the taxi driver who inadvertently helped Baz escape wrestles with whether he should mete out his own form of justice. Rachel: the failing election candidate who has to choose between giving up or speaking her mind. Michael: the priest who administered the last rites to Manda and who is finally forced to confront his true (dis)beliefs. Carol: a tabloid reporter on the verge of losing her job who begins to discover some curious gaps in her memory…
  But the effect travels even further than these five intersecting stories when claims are made that Manda’s ‘spirit’ is appearing beneath lampposts. In an economically devastated Ireland, where people have lost faith in politics, in business or religion, each character strives to answer the question: when there’s nothing left to believe in, what can we believe?
  Sounds like the good stuff, alright. Given the way Ireland has been screwed to the sticking-place over the last few years and betrayed by the formerly great and good, which has resulted in an erosion of faith, hope and trust in the kind of natural justice that underpins the crime novel, THE ANGEL OF THE STREETLAMPS should find itself pushing at an open door. I’ll keep you posted …

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Red Ribbons, Bunting, Balloons ...

Two interesting debuts are launched this week, either side of the Atlantic. The first is Louise Phillips’ RED RIBBONS, which is to the best of my knowledge the first Irish crime novel to feature a criminal psychologist in pursuit of a serial killer. I might be wrong, of course - if so, don’t be shy about letting me know. Quoth the blurb elves:
A SERIAL KILLER

When the body of a missing schoolgirl is found buried in the Dublin Mountains, her hands clasped together in prayer, two red ribbons in her hair, the hunt for her killer reaches epic proportion with the discovery of a second girl’s body 24 hours later.

THE CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGIST

Desperate to find the murderer, police call in criminal psychologist Kate Pearson, to get inside the mind of the serial killer before he strikes again. But the more Kate discovers about the killings, the more it all begins to feel terrifyingly familiar as her own past threatens to cloud her investigations.

AN ACCUSED WOMAN

Ellie Brady has been institutionalised for 15 years, for the killing of her twelve-year-old daughter, Amy. After all this time, does Ellie hold the key to finding the killer of the Dublin schoolgirls?
  RED RIBBONS launches at 6.30pm this evening, Wednesday 5th of September, at Hughes & Hughes in the St Stephens’ Green Shopping Centre, Dublin. If you’re in the vicinity, I’m sure Louise would be delighted to see you.
  Over in New York, meanwhile, Seamus Scanlon launches AS CLOSE AS YOU’LL EVER BE at 7pm at the Mysterious Bookshop tomorrow evening, September 6th, a launch that will feature, according to the press release, ‘wine, food, crime, reading and Tayto’. And lashings of Red Lemonade to wash all that Tayto down, no doubt. But what say the blurb elves?
Blood and memory reign in a collection of stories concerning the social and political aspects of an Irish killer from the 1970s to the present. Rooted in Ireland’s history of internal violence, an inescapable brutality that drags like a shadow for natives and exiles alike, the ‘war of Ireland’ ensues in Seamus Scanlon’s short story collection, AS CLOSE AS YOU’LL EVER BE. From Dublin to New York, Scanlon’s stories cover the vicious exploits of boy soldiers and IRA initiations, a son returning home to help his mother, a man mourning the boyhood loss of a cousin, or a childhood memory of first flight and escape. Operating under different circumstances of violence and crime, the characters are propelled in a ruthless conflagration between the binds of heritage and the burden of remembrance.
  So there you have it. For all the details, clickety-click here

Monday, September 3, 2012

Mountains To Sea: Book Early, Book Often

Two of the more interesting Irish crime fiction debuts this year were A JUNE OF ORDINARY MURDERS by Conor Brady and GHOST TOWN by Michael Clifford. They were two very different books, one being a historical crime novel, the other being so contemporary it might well have been ripped from tomorrow’s headlines, but they had in common a background in journalism - or their authors did, at least.
  On Friday evening, September 7th, I’ll be hosting a conversation between Michael Clifford and Conor Brady at the Mountains to Sea Festival in Dun Laoghaire, the event taking place at the Pavilion Theatre at 6.30pm. I’ll be particularly interested in finding out how each of them brought their experience in journalism to bear on their particular stories, or if they had to leave behind a fact-based approach in pursuit of their fiction. If you’re going to be in the vicinity, we’d love to see you there
  It’s going to be a busy weekend for yours truly in Dun Laoghaire, actually. On Saturday I’ll be hosting a crime writing workshop, while on Sunday evening I’ll be reading with Daniel Woodrell. That should be a suitably chastening experience …

On Sock-Puppets: Stuart Neville Speaks

As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, the mood tends to be mostly upbeat and positive over here at CAP Towers. That’s fair enough, I think, given that most crime / mystery writers tend to be mostly upbeat and positive about one another.
  Recently, though, we’ve been seeing a nasty element emerge from the so-called ‘sock-puppet’ scandals. ‘Sock-puppetry’, for those of you unaware, takes place when someone invents an online persona and uses that persona to write five-star reviews of their own work for Amazon, for example.
  In itself, and while unethical and possibly illegal, that practice seems to me to be more pitiable than anything else. And if that was as bad as ‘sock-puppetry’ got, then I could easily live with it.
  Unfortunately, power corrupts, etc. Ever since Stephen Leather announced at Harrogate that he used ‘sock-puppet’ accounts to create a word-of-mouth buzz around his books, it has become - via the good works of Jeremy Duns and Steve Mosby, for the most part - more and more apparent that ‘sock-puppetry’ can also involve a writer penning negative and malicious reviews of their peers.
  This behaviour is utterly disgraceful, and it needs to be stamped out immediately.
  Yesterday, Stuart Neville (above) blogged about his own experience of being targeted by a ‘sock-puppet’. To wit:
The issue of author ethics has been occupying many minds recently, not least of all mine. After ‘Leathergate’, the revelations about John Locke’s buying of reviews, and the most recent allegations against RJ Ellory, I’ve been agonising over my own position in this. As I’ve detailed before, I have been attacked by another author using ‘sock puppet’ accounts on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. I’ve had a good idea all along who was behind it, but until now I’ve preferred to keep that information to myself. But given all that’s happened in just a few weeks, I feel keeping quiet is no longer an option. So here goes:
  I believe the author who has targeted me, along with Declan Hughes, Laura Wilson, and others, is Belfast crime writer Sam Millar. It’s possible I’m mistaken, but I feel the evidence is overwhelming.
  For the rest, clickety-click here
  On a personal note, I first heard this story about two years ago, and blogged about it then, albeit without naming names, this on the basis that the story was Stuart’s and it was his to tell. Since then, Sam Millar has not featured on these pages.
  Ironically, I got a call from my publisher on Friday, to let me know that Sam Millar had requested a copy of SLAUGHTER’S HOUND, which he intended to review for The New York Journal of Books.
  I have asked my publisher to politely decline Sam Millar’s request, but of course Sam Millar is entitled to review the book if he chooses. Whether the NYJB will now carry Sam Millar’s reviews is another matter entirely.