“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, January 12, 2013

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” John Liam Shea

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?
I would most have liked to have written Seamus Scanlon’s AS CLOSE AS YOU’LL EVER BE. A brilliant collection of short stories that surprise the snot out of you time and time again. Brutal and entertaining.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
I would most liked to have been Lady Chatterley’s lover. Lucky bastard.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I read Sports Illustrated from front to back. Even the “Faces in the Crowd.” I’m a sports junkie at heart.

Most satisfying writing moment?
Without question, holding my published novel for the first time. Akin to having a child. A child with an ISBN number.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS by Ken Bruen.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Ken Bruen is very cinematic. Surprising then that more of his novels have not been made into movies. Only a matter of time, I suppose.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: the notoriety and adulation of tens. The best: everyone buys you pens for Christmas.

The pitch for your next book is …?
Possibly going back to a novel that was written a few years ago but was never published. A novel about the birth of my son. Redoing it and seeing how it flies.

Who are you reading right now?
Harper Lee. Her one and only. With my eighth grade Literature class.As brilliant and poignant today as it was when it was released.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Write. Can’t make any money reading.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Funny, smooth, stylized.

CUT AND RUN IN THE BRONX by John Liam Shea is published by Seven Towers.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Taoiseach, Nazi, Soldier, Spy

As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, Stuart Neville’s new book, RATLINES (Harvill Secker), involves the historical figures of former Irish taoiseach Charlie Haughey and former Nazi commando Otto Skorzeny, both of whom try to manipulate the fictional Albert Ryan, an ex-British solider and currently (in 1963, when the book is set) a G2 operative, G2 being the Irish military’s secret service. Hence the inspired headline ‘Taoiseach, Nazi, Soldier, Spy’ that ran across my interview with Stuart when it appeared in the Irish Times on Wednesday. It opened up a lot like this:
“One of the first things I became aware of was the divisiveness of his legacy,” says author Stuart Neville of former taoiseach Charles J Haughey. “When you consider that you can watch videos on YouTube of people dancing on his grave, that gives you a measure of how strongly some people feel about him.”
  Charles Haughey appears as a character in Neville’s latest novel, Ratlines, which is set in 1963. As Ireland eagerly awaits the arrival of John F Kennedy, a number of former Nazis and Nazi sympathisers are discovered murdered. Albert Ryan of G2, the Irish military’s equivalent of MI5, is commissioned by Minister for Justice Charles Haughey to investigate the murders, but Haughey is himself on first-name terms with the former Waffen SS commando Otto Skorzeny, a man famous for rescuing Benito Mussolini from captivity in 1943.
  “I was vaguely aware of Haughey when he was in power,” says Neville, who was born in Armagh and grew up in the 1980s, “because I’d have had an above-average interest in politics. But I’d have been very aware of him by the time the Moriarty Tribunal came around.”
  Neville is fascinated by all facets of Haughey’s career and legacy, “over and above the ‘cute hoor’ caricature that he became known for”, he says. “He’s a gift of a character. You couldn’t make him up. He was a very progressive politician in many ways, and terribly conservative in others. A complicated man. Like anybody in real life, and any good character in a book, he’s not black-and-white, there’s lots of light and shade there.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Gosling Has Landed

It’s been something of a quiet week on Crime Always Pays, largely because I’ve bought a new computer and I’m currently engaged in a technological version of mutually assured destruction with Windows 8, to the victor the spoils, etc.
  Other than the minor mental breakdown, however, it’s been a pretty decent week for yours truly. SLAUGHTER’S HOUND was reviewed last weeked in the Sunday Independent, with the gist running thusly:
“[Harry Rigby] journeys through this twisting, turning yarn with a semi-concealed propensity for ultra-violence, like a more lippy, chain-smoking version of Ryan Gosling’s character in Drive. He shoots to kill, beats to a pulp and even gets imaginative with a lit cigar and an eyeball … Aside from the mischief and black humour, the dialogue is just as smoky … this is perfectly pitched, rhythmic crime speech that lounges about the page … The denouement may be mucky and rather fatalistic, but it could only be so. Angels are hard to come by in Burke’s noir wonderland.” – Hilary White, Sunday Independent
  With which, as you can imagine, I was very quietly pleased. For the rest, clickety-click here
  Indeed, the last couple of weeks have been very good to my humble tomes, with SLAUGHTER’S HOUND and ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL turning up in more than a few end-of-year Best Of … lists. I don’t have a link to the Sunday Times one, sadly, but the rest look like this:
http://wwwshotsmagcouk.blogspot.ie/2013/01/my-favourite-books-of-2012.html
http://www.elizabethawhite.com/category/top10-2012/#.UOvbpeTtTTo
http://januarymagazine.blogspot.ie/2012/12/best-books-of-2012-crime-fiction-part-i.html
http://danaking.blogspot.ie/
  So there you have it. All going well, I’ll have wrassled Windows 8 into a half-nelson submission in the next day or so, when normal-ish service will be resumed. Don’t say you weren’t warned …

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Sirens Are Singing Again

I mentioned back at the start of December that Adrian McKinty’s I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET would be published in early January; and lo! The day hath arrived. Adrian has a number of things to say about that over at his interweb lair, where he also publishes an extensive quote about SIRENS from Daniel Woodrell. I particularly like Woodrell’s description of Northern Ireland as “ … a uniquely beautiful and nasty part of the world I’d be scared to visit if everybody didn’t sound like they might be cousins of my dad on my mom’s side.”
  Anyway, the Irish Independent reviewed SIRENS on Saturday, kicking off thusly:
“Adrian McKinty has done it again. In the second episode of a promised trilogy on the exploits of Sean Duffy, a Catholic policeman in the RUC at the height of the Northern Troubles, he maintains the tension, the sense of period and the quirks of character that made THE COLD COLD GROUND such a compelling read.”
  So there you have it. McKinty’s fans won’t need much persuading to pick up I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET, but if you’re coming to him fresh, brace yourself - you’re in for a proper treat.
  Meanwhile, I’ll be interviewing Adrian about SIRENS when he touches down on the Oul’ Sod on Wednesday. If there’s anything you think I should ask him, be sure to let me know …

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Boy And His Bullet

Anthony Quinn, author of DISAPPEARED (Mysterious Press), has a superb essay over at the Mysterious Press blog on his experience of growing up in Northern Ireland at the height of ‘the Troubles’. An excerpt:
“My tenth year was an overwhelming one for me, brought up as a devout Catholic, receiving in my hands something as frightening as a bullet marked for my father, and then something as holy as the consecrated Body of Christ. You would have thought the latter would have negated the former. The good cancelling the bad. The brutal gift of the bullet reversed by the redeeming gift of the Eucharist. However, it didn’t work out like that. One inflamed the other, like throwing raw alcohol on a wound. To this day, I can still feel the imprint of the bullet in my hand.
“The experience left me feeling conflicted in ways that are hard to explain. I became a deeply spiritual teenager with a guilty fascination for IRA violence. I listened obsessively to the daily morning, noon and evening news bulletins, tuning in to the litany of bombings and shootings, which were always delivered by the newsreader in the same monotone voice with which he announced the weather. I was frightened and at the same time thrilled by what I heard, and I wasn’t the only one. Listening to the hourly radio news became a national pastime during the Troubles. Many of my generation were addicted to those little charges of excitement that flow from bad news, swinging from dread to overwhelming relief and satisfaction, and then back to apprehension again, waiting pensively for the day that the news bulletin heralded a personal tragedy. We were the children of the 1970s, and when darkness fell, we brooded on bullets, guns and bombs. The violence terrified us, but, to an extent, it also entertained and diverted us. Many of us became hooked on it.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Turn Of The Screwed

I do love the cover of Eoin Colfer’s forthcoming tome SCREWED (Headline), which concerns itself with the continuing stooooooooooory of Dan McEvoy, the barnet-challenged hero of Colfer’s first adult crime novel, PLUGGED. Quoth the blurb elves:
Dan McEvoy doesn’t set out to get into violent confrontations with New Jersey’s gangster overlords but he’s long since found that once you’re on their radar, there’s only one way to slip off it. So he’s learned his own way to fight back, aiming to outwit rather than kill unless he really has no choice. But when Dan’s glam step-gran Edith shows up on the hunt for his dishevelled aunt Evelyn, it quickly becomes clear that family can provide the deadliest threat of all. In a city of gun-happy criminals, bent cops and a tough-talking woman detective whose inspires terror and lust in equal measure, Dan may just have reached the point where sharp wit won’t cut the mustard. But can he play the heavies at their own game?
  SCREWED isn’t due until May, unfortunately, but if you like your crime fiction with a screwball comedy twist, you could do a lot worse than note this one in your diary, not least because PLUGGED was shortlisted for the LA Times book awards last year, and you’d have to presume that yon whippersnapper Colfer has learned his lessons and got a bit better this time out. Wouldn’t you?