“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 26, 2013

A Tale Of Two Peters

It was the best of times, it was the most opportune of times, etc. The newest Irish crime writer, Peter Wilben, debuted this week with the release of RED CONTRACT, an e-published tome about which the blurb elves have wibbled thusly:
Joe Grace, a successful Dublin financier with a dark past, is attempting to lead a normal life with his beautiful German girlfriend Hanny. Meanwhile in New York, in a world Joe left behind, the stock price of a pharmaceutical giant is soaring. The reason: a rumoured cure for a deadly disease. When Joe gets a call from one of his most valued investors, asking him to track down a missing scientist who has made the groundbreaking discovery, his attempt at a normal life quickly unravels. Bound by the terms and conditions of a contract with his investor, Joe reluctantly agrees to help find the man. But on a bloody quest that takes him from Ireland to New York, Mexico and Moscow, Joe soon discovers old personal scores are at stake …
  So far, so interesting. But stay! There’s more. Quoth Peter Wilben’s interweb lair:
Peter Wilben is the pen name of acclaimed Irish author Peter Cunningham. Writing as Peter Wilben, Peter’s thrillers include the highly successful Joe Grace series, now exclusively re edited and re-released online.
  The books are set in the world of high finance, and as a former trader, who worked on Wall Street in its heyday, it is Peter’s insider knowledge that makes him the master of the financial thriller.
  In 1982, while on holidays in Antigua, Peter’s briefcase was stolen. He spent the next 14 days locked in his room, writing the first 25,000 words of NOBLE LORD. It’s a thriller about a man who goes on holidays, has his briefcase stolen and stumbles on a plot by terrorists to assassinate the Queen at the Epsom Derby. A few months later, Peter was offered a publishing contract. He has been a full-time writer ever since.
  On witnessing the dramatic changes occurring in the publishing industry over the past number of years, Peter saw an opportunity to find new readers online for his books. The independent re-release of the Joe Grace novels as an ebook-only series represents the empowerment of authors in the digital age.
  An intriguing gambit, to say the least of it, and I wish Peter the very best of luck in his endeavours. For sample chapters from RED CONTRACT, clickety-click here

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The PEN Is Also Mightier Than The Sword

I’m sure that most years are of the interesting variety when you’re both John Banville and Benjamin Black, but 2013 is shaping up to be even more interesting than usual. For one, Banville will – under the Benny Blanco nom de plume – be publishing a Philip Marlowe novel later this year, while also publishing a dedicated Benjamin Black novel, HOLY ORDERS (Henry Holt), in August.
  Meanwhile, Banville will also be awarded the 2013 Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Achievement in Irish Literature. To wit:
Irish PEN is delighted to honour author John Banville with the 2013 Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Achievement in Irish Literature. In keeping with the tradition started in 1935, (when the WB Yeats Dinner took place), the annual Irish PEN Award is presented in the company of other leading writers. Members of Irish PEN, as well as previous winners, nominate and vote for the candidate. Since 1999, the award recipients have included John B Keane, Brian Friel, Edna O’Brien, William Trevor, John McGahern, Neil Jordan, Seamus Heaney, Jennifer Johnston, Maeve Binchy, Thomas Kilroy, Roddy Doyle, Brendan Kennelly and Joseph O’Connor.
  The event takes place at 7pm on Friday, February 22nd at the Royal St George Yacht Club, Dún Laoghaire. For all the details, including how to book tickets, clickety-click here

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Joe McCoubrey

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?
It would have to be ROSES ARE RED by James Patterson. This was one of his early assignments for Alex Cross, and was delivered with such tension that Patterson hooked a generation on his works. The twists and turns of the story, coupled with the down to earth detective having to struggle with the usual fist of domestic problems that face us all, was a blueprint for the way authors should develop their characters.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
I’d go for Sherlock Holmes. Imagine having all that deductive reasoning? I like the idea, no matter how fanciful, of taking a cursory look at a crime scene and being able to pinpoint exactly how it happened and, more importantly, who did it. These days we’re overloaded with CSI teams, which kinda has the poor old crime writer scrambling to keep up with all the latest forensic technologies.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Believe it or not, it was Jane Austen who got me hooked on reading! From the moment I started into PRIDE AND PREJUDICE there was no turning back. These days I settle for the inimitable works of Vince Flynn, David Baldacci, and Lee Child. I’ve got to say though that over the past few years I’ve enjoyed a collection of new Indie authors, such as Andy Scorah, Ian Graham and Mel Comley. My current cycle of reading has taken me into the world of Irish authors – what a great collection of books just waiting to be read! I’ve started the journey with Robert Craven, Laurence O’Bryan, Paul O’Brien, Louise Phillips, and a certain Declan Burke! I passionately believe that Irish authors are getting set to rule the world!

Most satisfying writing moment?
It was the moment I brought my first novel SOMEONE HAS TO PAY over the finishing line. I had been working on the story, off and on, for almost 20 years, so it was a big thrill to close it out.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
I hate being put on the spot when there are so many great Irish novels to choose from. I remember reading Gene Kerrigan’s THE MIDNIGHT CHOIR some years ago and was struck by the sweep of the topics covered. This was a clever montage of crime that Kerrigan managed to bring together in one of those reads that you want to have at your bedside for long, wintry nights.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
There’s a lot of great material out there that would easily transfer to the big screen. One possibility is the recently released RED RIBBONS by Louise Phillips. It’s got all the ingredients – a serial killer targeting schoolchildren, a criminal profiler trying to get one step ahead, and a few twists and turns to keep everyone guessing.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The best thing about writing is letting my characters take me into situations I hadn’t planned for them. Getting them out of there - and realising the story has just gotten better as a result of the detour – is what makes the overall writing journey worthwhile. The worst thing about being a writer is not getting the time to be constantly at it.

The pitch for your next book is …?
ABSENCE OF RULES sees the return of Mike Devon. To some people Devon is a highly trained counter-terrorism operative. To others, he’s little more than a Government- sanctioned assassin. Either way, he always takes the line of least resistance to get the job done, particularly when he’s faced with two al-Qaeda leaders preparing to unleash a new terror campaign against America and its European allies. But Devon also has to deal with a sinister Russian oil billionaire, pulling the strings in a determined bid to return to the days of East-West conflict. He has to fight his way through a plot to blow up the Eiffel Tower, and stop the assassination of some of the world's leading businessmen in a roller-coaster that becomes highly personal. The stakes couldn’t be higher

Who are you reading right now?
THE FORGOTTEN by David Baldacci. It features his latest hero, Army CID operative, John Puller, who is trying to solve the murder of his aunt and stumbles into the sleazy world of people-trafficking. Authors like Baldacci rarely let you down when it comes to a page-turner.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
That would be cruel. I’m totally split between both, but if push came to shove I would have to opt for writing. When I got my first portable typewriter, some forty years ago, I haven’t stopped dancing my fingers across a keyboard ever since. I can’t imagine an existence without the ‘fix’ that creating words on a page does for me.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Fast and Furious!!

Joe McCoubrey’s ABSENCE OF RULES is published by Master Koda Select Publishing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Krem Fiction

I note that William Ryan’s Korolev series, which is set in 1930’s Stalinist Russia, has – according to his bio – ‘been shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year Award, the CWA New Blood Dagger, the Irish Fiction Award and the Ireland AM Irish Crime Novel of the Year Award.’ That’s right – no Booker Prize nomination. Not so much as a long-listing. The slacker.
  Anyway, the third in the Korolev series, THE TWELFTH DEPARTMENT (Mantle), will be published in May, with the blurb elves wibbling thusly:
Moscow, 1937. Captain Korolev, a police investigator, is enjoying a long-overdue visit from his young son Yuri when an eminent scientist is shot dead within sight of the Kremlin and Korolev is ordered to find the killer. It soon emerges that the victim, a man who it appears would stop at nothing to fulfil his ambitions, was engaged in research of great interest to those at the very top ranks of Soviet power. When another scientist is brutally murdered, and evidence of the professors’ dark experiments is hastily removed, Korolev begins to realise that, along with having a difficult case to solve, he’s caught in a dangerous battle between two warring factions of the NKVD. And then his son Yuri goes missing . . . A desperate race against time, set against a city gripped by Stalin’s Great Terror and teeming with spies, street children and Thieves, THE TWELFTH DEPARTMENT confirms William Ryan as one of the most compelling historical crime novelists at work today.
  For a quick Q&A with William Ryan, clickety-click here

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Leo In Winter

Mark O’Sullivan (right) is an award-winning author of books for children and young adults, but for his next offering he’s turning to the world of crime fiction. CROCODILE TEARS (Transworld Ireland) is due in April, with the blurb elves wibbling thusly:
In the freezing winter of 2010, with the Irish recession in full flow, property tycoon Dermot Brennan is found dead at his Dublin home. Leading the murder investigation is fifty-six-year-old Detective Inspector Leo Woods – ‘the Ugly Detective’ - an embittered former UN soldier with a cocaine habit, a penchant for collecting masks and a face disfigured by Bell’s Palsy. DI Woods meets his match in Detective Sergeant Helen Troy, a bright and ambitious but impetuous young policewoman with a troubled family. A host of suspects quickly emerge - Brennan’s estranged son; two of the dead man’s former business associates with grudges against him; a young man whose life was ruined after his house, built by Brennan, was flooded; an arrogant sculptor who may or may not have been having an affair with Anna Brennan (and with their neighbour); and an ex-pat American gardener. Together, Woods and Troy weave their way through this tangled web to get to the shocking truth. Mark O’Sullivan is an exciting new voice in literary crime fiction. Already an acclaimed children’s fiction writer, he has produced in CROCODILE TEARS an excellent murder mystery, which has the depth of character of Kate Atkinson combined with the plotting and ambiguous moral codes of Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse.
  I like the sound of Leo Woods, I have to say. An embittered ex-soldier with a coke habit and disfigured face would be the villain in most conventional crime / mystery novels, so perhaps Mark O’Sullivan has something subversive and a little out of kilter with the police procedural tropes lined up for us. Here’s hoping …